Often, discussions about diversity quickly become discussions about structural or systemic problems or patterns over time – and thus become a sociology debate, rather than a personal assessment.
In reality, despite the complexities of diversity in the workplace, what most of us really control occurs at the level of the conversation. We show respect for diversity by showing respect for other people – and we most often do that through thoughtful and respectful active listening and dialogue.
Consider the following communications assessment questions, rating yourself as “I do this well” or “I’d like to improve in this area”:
- Do I avoid interrupting people?
- Do I avoid being distracted?
- Do I listen for feelings and attitudes, as well as facts?
- Do I listen for what is not said?
- Do I observe the speaker’s nonverbals?
- Do I question the assumptions that I am bringing to the conversation?
- Do I ask myself what the other person knows that I do not?
- Do I avoid jumping to conclusions before the speaker is finished?
- Do I avoid quick judgements about people’s feelings and intentions?
- Do I show the speaker I’m listening with appropriate words and gestures?
- Do I paraphrase the speaker’s statements to confirm understanding?
- Do I keep my attention on the speaker even when he or she is hard to follow?
- Do I keep quiet and listen more than I talk?
- Do I listen, rather than thinking of my response before the other person stops?
- Am I able to be honest with people without fearing how they will react?
- Do I tell people what they need to hear, despite the risk of conflict?
- Do I communicate openly even when I feel someone may take advantage of that openness?
Once you complete the assessment, select three areas you would like to act on to improve, and specific steps you plan to take to do so. Respect for diversity through self-development happens one conversation at a time.