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Taking the Scariness out of DIB Work (1 of 4) | Choosing Curiosity Over Scariness

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

During the month of October, some might consider this to be the beginning of the holiday season when we intentionally decorate for Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and, traditionally speaking, Christmas. I say this, recognizing that there are many people who celebrate other holidays, such as Diwali, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice and Kwanzaa.

But back to Halloween. One of my neighbors went SO – ALL - OUT with his Halloween decorations that all of the other adults on the block have decided to trick or treat with the kids just to get what we assume will be the best variety candy E-V-E-R!

Over the years, society has made Halloween much less scary than when I was a kid and the only options for costumes were ghosts, witches, the werewolf, Dracula, and Frankenstein with a green plastic face mask. In recent years, Halloween costumes have largely been representative of Marvel heroes and she-roes, ushering in a new normal that makes Halloween more fun and less frightening. And that new normal got me to pondering this question: How can we take the scariness out of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging work?

When I’m coaching executives or working with leaders and their teams, I like to remind people that what makes us different from each other makes us valuable to the team. I recognize that difference can often be first seen as unknown, scary, perhaps threatening. And that’s okay, because that kind of gut reaction actually is hard-wired into our brains, which we will explore next. But even hard-wired reactions can be separated from our choices about our behaviors and responses to people.

It is important to distinguish between “reaction” (automatic most times) and “response” (which we can choose). But, as I said, differences are what make teams valuable! How we leverage difference into value can be done in three simple steps that I’ll get to later. But first, I want to explore the brain and how it operates when it feels scared and threatened.

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