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Once & For All: Stopping Sexual Harassment at Work

Posts Tagged ‘Diversity’

Conversation with a Purpose

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

rick-harry_smGuest Post by Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

I confess – I pilfered the title of this article from a man who was renowned as a wise and insightful pathfinder in the field of diversity, Dr. Roosevelt Thomas. A sample of that wisdom is seen in his statement, “Dialogue is conversation with a purpose.” In essence, he is saying that, in order to have real dialogue, we need to know what we want to accomplish during the conversation – we need to set a goal.

Let’s face it, goal setting is important in any aspect of life. If, for example, we dream of a trip to Paris, but neglect to set a goal of saving the amount of money required, the chances of us ever dining at the top of the Eiffel Tower are pretty slim. That’s because we will spend small amounts on other things along the way and get off track.

The same principle applies to conversation. If we don’t know what we want to accomplish, we won’t make the word and attitude choices that will get us to that goal. It is especially likely that we will get off track if we have a strong emotion associated with the interaction. Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about along with the kinds of productive goals you might set for each incident.

Example 1: You have been offended by what someone has said or done.
Possible Goals:
A. To embarrass the person and make him or her feel guilty
B. To educate the person about your point of view

As tempting as option “A” might be (let’s be honest, “guilt-tripping” is sometimes tinged with a perverse personal satisfaction), the most productive answer is “B.” Guilt is, after all, rarely a good motivator of change. Your act of trying to make the other person feel guilty will accomplish little more than making them defensive and, in turn, become utterly unable to listen to what you have to say.

Example 2: You have made a clumsy or ignorant remark that you think might have offended someone around you.
Possible Goals:
A. To show respect for your colleagues by calling attention to what you did and apologizing.
B. To minimize the importance and impact of what you said by ignoring it.

The goal here is “A.” The very fact that you are willing to take responsibility for your error shows, not only that you want to communicate respect, but that you are prepared to model truly inclusive behavior.

To return to Dr. Thomas – “Dialogue is conversation with a purpose.” I think he would agree that, if we don’t know where we are going – whether it be in conversation or in life — we just might end up someplace we’d rather not be.

This article is excerpted from the video program, Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments Into Productive Conversations, which features Sondra and a variety of vignettes depicting these concepts.

Sondra Thiederman can be contacted for webinars or in-person presentations. For additional information, go to http://thiederman.com

© copyright 2013 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.

 

 

 

Say “Ouch!” When it Hurts

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Diversity Communication TrainingWhen someone says something hurtful, whether to us or to someone else, it’s easy to retreat into ourselves.  After all, much of the popular self-help wisdom out there advises us that it’s a sign of maturity to let hurtful statements roll off our backs.

When we see another person subjected to stereotypical comments or prejudice, we might think it’s up to them to respond.  How can we know what hurts or offends anyone else – and who are we to step in to defend someone?

Yet prejudicial, stereotypical statements are painful, whether they’re directed at us or at another individual or a group we don’t belong to.  We all react in some way. (more…)

It’s Okay to Not Know What to Do

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

You’ve just heard someone say something insensitive. Perhaps it was about an ethnic group, or members of a particular religion, or maybe men versus women.

As far as you can tell, no one else seems to be bothered by what was said, but you’re feeling uncomfortable. Does it really matter?  And if so, is there anything you can do about it?

Difficult moments like these are hard to deal with. We tend not to know what to do.  We don’t want to start a fight; these are people we work with every day.  And we don’t want to be seen as too sensitive, uptight, or politically correct. So what can you do? (more…)

Diversity: Your Ticket Out of the Comfort Zone

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

We tend to focus on diversity as an issue of workplace relationships.

It’s much more than that.

When we limit our focus to whether or not people are “playing nicely” together, the idea of diversity can take on a lot of destructive baggage.  We can even begin thinking that it would be easier if we had a less diverse workforce.  After all, if everyone were more alike, we wouldn’t have to deal with these issues – right?

Maybe, and maybe not. (more…)

But I Don’t Really Believe That!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Have you ever been startled to discover yourself thinking thoughts you don’t agree with?

Perhaps you’ve found yourself with foot-in-mouth disease, listening to yourself say something intolerant about – for instance – an ethnic or religious group.  Even as you hear the words coming from your lips, you’re thinking, “I don’t really believe that!”

You’re not going crazy, and you’re not some sort of secret bigot. (more…)

We’re All Strangers When We Meet

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The first time we meet someone, they’re a stranger.

No matter how that meeting takes place – an introduction from a friend or co-worker, at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, or by chance at a party – that person is a stranger to us.

(We’re also strangers to them, which is something we tend to forget.)

Human beings are wired to fit things into categories, and in general that’s a good thing.  Just think how difficult it would be if we couldn’t lump similar items together into groups – “houses” or “cars” – but instead had to keep a separate space in our brains and vocabularies to remember and describe each item individually.

However, value judgments tend to get lumped into those categories along with the items. (more…)

Do Sweat the Small Stuff

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Respect isn’t one single big thing.

It’s not a task on our to-do list that we can check off at the end of the day.

And it’s certainly not the same as political correctness (which, ironically, can often lead us to say and do things that are almost as painful as the politically incorrect, stereotyping statements we’re trying to avoid).

Respect is the glue that holds us together in groups.  It’s all the small things that add up, day by day, week by week, year by year, to build relationships … or break them down. (more…)

“We Love You…Now CHANGE” – Free Video Clip

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Isn’t it amazing how we can find an individual with just the skills our organization needs, then attempt to change that person so they think and act more like us? Here’s a free animated video clip that shows how unwelcoming organizations can be when it comes to diversity.

Recommended Training Resource: Anyone Can Be An Ally  Featuring subject matter expert Brian McNaught and commentary from numerous individuals, this program puts a face on issues that confront LGBT workers. Viewers learn about unwelcoming vs. welcoming behaviors and are shown how to build a workplace where everyone feels comfortable and fully able to contribute.

Diversity Scavenger Hunt: Free Activity

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Instructions to the Trainer: Put the following questions on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. Make enough copies for everyone. Tell the group they have 10 minutes to complete this exercise.

Group Instructions: Attempt to fill in your sheet by finding a person who can say “yes” or can respond appropriately to each question. Write their first name in the space provided. You may use each person’s name only once. (more…)


 

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