In one of my favorite new books, The Power of 2 by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, develop core elements of a great business partnership. What they discover easily applies to small groups. In chapter five they explain the importance of Acceptance. Most people choose to be with people who are a lot like them. There is a problem with that, though. The authors put it this way, "[the problem with like-minded communities] it makes you less likely to create strong ties with those who would bring something you lack to the partnership. Many of the potential collaborators you need most are those who will be, because of their difference from you, most difficult to learn to accept. You don't need an identical twin as much as you need an opposite..." This harkens back to Genesis 1 and 2 if I'm not mistaken.
We benefit deeply when we are with people who challenge our thinking, have a different frame of reference, and different strengths. The key, according to the authors is celebrate each other's strengths, not weaknesses. We're all human. No one is perfect. So don't focus on the imperfections, instead, focus on the strengths.
So how does this play out in a group? I think we have to embrace humor and grace when we are in a group with people who are different. Instead of convincing people to act and think like us, seek to understand them. Ask questions and follow up questions. The best discussions happen when people know they will be accepted even when sharing their true thoughts and opinions. As group leaders, we can encourage honesty and then thank our group when they share it.
Acceptance, it's a core truth in business partnerships and small groups.