The following practices improve the ability to thrive in a diverse environment:
Treating Others with Dignity and Respect
Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect because they are a member of the human race. Listen and put yourself in their shoes. Hear them out. Remember, respecting others’ values and viewpoints doesn’t mean you must accept or adopt their way of thinking. You may simply need to respectfully agree to disagree.
The Pygmalion effect is a psychological phenomenon whose premise is “you get what you expect.” Make it a regular practice to tell yourself that you will get along with and understand others who are different—it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Flexibility and Ambiguity
Expect ambiguity and learn to deal with it. What you think you see may not be reality to others if they have different viewpoints and perspectives.
Make a conscientious effort to use language and actions that include others who are different.
If someone has said something to offend you, try the following techniques to
resolve the issue:
- Be clear about your goals for challenging the individual.
- Try to assume goodwill—the other person did not realize what he or she said was offensive.
- Talk to the person privately.
- Be honest and direct when explaining how the comments made you feel.
- Use “I” phrases when speaking. Example: I was uncomfortable when you…
- Give examples of the comments and behaviors that offended you.
If you have been told you’ve offended someone, do the following:
- Listen carefully and reserve judgment.
- Ask questions to clarify the other person’s concerns.
- Apologize if you had no intention of offending that individual.
- Do not use the phrase or word that was offensive in the future out of respect for the individual even if you do not believe what you said was offensive.
As with any new skills, practice makes perfect. Together we can help America fulfill its promise of liberty and justice for all.