SUNTIVA LLC / JUNE 3, 2021 / BLOG
Suntiva DEI experts, together with The Inclusion Channel, offer you five pragmatic tips to help you understand and effectively navigate in a multi-identity workplace.
- Be Understanding: Recognize that the experiences of others are unique. Not everyone’s experience of history is the same as your own. Some colleagues may have been the beneficiaries of social change designed to support those who’ve experienced the negative impact of past social rules, expectations, and values (societal legacies). Others may be resentful of social movements designed to correct the inequities of our past. Seek to understand the experiences of others and how this perspective shapes their interpretation or experiences of the present.
- Be Empathetic: Terms like oppression, assimilation, segregation, civil rights, multiculturalism, and other terms describing societal legacies have different meanings in different national, geographic, and generational contexts. Try to learn how the person to whom you are speaking defines the term being used. And share the impact of these terms on you. Your willingness to be curious and vulnerable can build a dialogue that creates shared experience and reveals clarifying insights.
- Be Present: Draw from your multi-identity experience to connect with others. If a societal legacy has negatively affected one or more dimensions of your identity, be aware of how your experience may influence your emotional reaction. Staying present in this experience can help you connect with others who may be experiencing a negative impact from one or more societal legacies.
- Be Respectful: Respect the individual experience of others. If a colleague from an identity group does not share their identity group’s normative experience, for example, they don’t perceive themselves as having suffered “oppression,” respect their individual experience.
- Be Open: Recognize that everyone has a different interpretation of their experience and honor this difference. It is not helpful to tell people that what they experienced was not all that difficult or to question the way that people feel about their experiences. Stay open to meet people where they are on their personal journey while navigating their experiences.
Navigating a multi-identity world begins with your state of being. Take a personal inventory daily and check if you are being understanding, empathetic, present, respectful, and open. As the day gets busy, or pressures increase, we sometimes forget to check-in with ourselves. These tips give us some place to start.
But don’t stop there. Also, check in with others to see how your words and actions are being interpreted and how you are making them feel. Ask what you can start, stop, or continue doing to learn more about their perspectives and what they need from you as a leader, manager or colleague.
Written by Katherine Coles