Last week Wednesday I was at the Diversity@Work conference put on by Skills for Change about faith in the workplace. It was a thought-provoking day. The next few posts will share some of the things that stood out for me.
What struck me most about the panel discussion was the theme of getting to know people. I have long believed that political correctness (while perhaps well-intentioned) did us a great disservice because people became afraid to offend and so stopped talking and asking questions. Two particular things stood out:
We were encouraged:
1. To know how to read, listen, and attune to others so we can celebrate diversity
2. Through the spirit of listening and understanding, to develop a childlike curiosity about others, to have an interest to learn and dialogue and get to know people.
This last “call to action” was accompanied by an acknowledgment that we will likely make mistakes along the way, but that this is not the end of the world if we are, in fact, coming from a place of childlike curiosity.
Hooray! Asking questions and speaking with our colleagues (respectfully, obviously) is the only way we will get to know them. Getting to know someone helps to break down barriers as well as challenging our bias and stereotypes so we can actually see them rather than seeing who we think they are.
copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion.