So, how do we get there? Remember that organizations are made up of individuals. Therefore, we each must take the individual responsibility to be intentional about how we ACT.
ACT is an acronym you may have me heard use before when I’ve spoken at virtual conferences and it stands for:
Approach others with an open heart
Connect to understand
Tap into diversity by being culturally curious.
Let’s start from the top.
When I talk about approaching others with an open heart, this is really a self-focused activity. Before we engage with someone different from us that we may consider a potential threat, for whatever reason, it requires us to suspend those assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs we may have about that person before we ever open our mouths. That can be a challenge because, as we’ve already discussed, if you have a brain you have bias. So, in order to approach others with an open heart, we have to be open and willing to move some things out of our own way.
Next, when we connect to understand someone else, it’s not for the purposes of being understood. It’s an other-focused activity. And connecting to understand is certainly not for the purposes of responding. Be intentional about connecting to understand someone else’s life experiences, perspective, and way of being. That’s all. And when you have successfully connected to understand someone else, it will compel them to want to understand you.
Finally, tap into diversity by being culturally curious. You may assume I mean limiting cultural curiosity to a 1:1 encounter. Sometimes yes, sometime no. Being culturally curious can extend to the organizational subcultures that you interact with at work. For example, it’s just as important to understand the organizational subcultures of executives, engineers, and executive assistants as a whole, as it is to tap into diversity by developing real relationships on an individual basis.
Being intentional about developing real relationships through human affirming behaviors will absolutely take the scariness out of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging work.
We can all explore what has made Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging conversations scary for us, and how, perhaps, we have already overcome some of those fears in ways that resulted in new and deep relationships that were completely unexpected. We can extend that to how we might work to overcome organizational assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs that result in exclusion of some and therefore, loss of their gifts and talents to our organization.
My goal this month was to take the scariness out of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging work by reframing diversity conversations from difficult to different so that the only thing that scares you on Halloween is realizing the number of calories you’re taking in as you “inspect” the kids’ candy!