Personalizing Diversity 5

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Step 3: Acknowledge Your Prejudices


We live in a judgmental world. We live in a hierarchical world. We live in a world of dichotomies—“haves and have nots,” of “better than or worse than,” and “being likeable or dislikeable.”

Most of these distinctions we make about others are based on illogical and irrational criteria - where you live, where you were born, the color of your skin, your gender, your wealth status or your level of educational attainment. The list of other such arbitrary criteria goes on and on.

We are all prejudiced because of the way we experience the world. Our ability to make sense of things often is based on pre-judgments, our preconceived notions. Generally when we don’t know, we first think negatively. Such an approach can be dangerous.

Conflict, disputes, and dissension are fundamentally linked to our inability to incorporate differences in how we make sense of the world. Our individual sense of right and wrong is inextricably linked to our tolerance for difference. It’s important not to interpret different as wrong based on our belief systems.

Prejudice is personal. The feelings and emotions are sometimes so deep inside our soul that we are not conscious of them. Prejudice is not behavior, but it can lead to discriminatory behavior and even violence. It’s just one cultural barrier to inclusiveness.

Admitting your biases and moving toward change is the third step in personalizing diversity, advises Mary-Frances Winters, author and president of the Winters Group.

That is why carefully examining advertising messages is so important, because insensitive language, bias and stereotypes can creep into our advertising messaging without our realizing it, and lead to offensive advertising.

The Management Library recommends taking a short survey to help you understand your ability to work with others. Visit www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/behavor.html for the survey. On a scale of 1=very weak to 9=very strong, rank yourself on these behaviors.

______ Feelings: I am not afraid to deal directly with emotion whether it is my own or others. I allow myself to feel and give expression to what I feel.

______ Initiative: In my relationships I act rather than react by going out and contacting others without waiting to be contacted.

______ Respect: I express that I am for others even if I do not necessarily approve of what they do.

______ Genuineness: I do not hide behind roles or facades. I let others know where I stand.

______ Concreteness: I am not vague when I speak to others. I do not beat around the bush in that I deal with concrete experience and behavior.

______ Immediacy: I deal openly and directly with others. I know where I stand with others and they know where they stand with me.

______ Empathy: I see the world through the eyes of others by listening to cues, both verbal and nonverbal, and I respond to these cues.

______ Confrontation: I challenge others with responsibility and with care. I do not use confrontation to punish.

______ Self-disclosure: I let others know the person inside, but I am not exhibitionistic. I am open without being a secret-revealer or secret-searcher.

______ Self-exploration: I examine my lifestyle and behaviors and want others to help me to do so. I am open to change.



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