Cultural Creativity at Work

Share your ideas about responsible business practices, conscious consuming, social responsibility, the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) and sustainability. 

Friday, September 29, 2006

Speak Your Mind without Burning the Bridge

Ever found yourself in a situation at work where someone expresses something you'd ordinarily challenge?

Maybe someone tells an inappropriate joke, says something something sarcastic or makes a discriminatory statement about someone of a different culture, race, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation.

Sensing an imbalance of power, do you bite your tongue, or do you say something? What do you say?

Everyone desires a peaceful working environment -- even those who sometimes say insensitive things. Expressing values and sharing ideas in the workplace are inherently political, but bringing in new views are critical to making a better world for everyone. Cultural Creatives are particularly sensitive since they are attracted to and appreciate those people who are different from themselves. Communication and relationships are highly valued.

The good news is that there are communication tools you can use to challenge old ideas that perpetuate injustice and unhealthy behaviors.

"I'm sorry; I wasn't listening very well. Will you repeat that for me, please?"

This statement, useful for "offhand" comments that seem just plain rude, creates a space for the person to become conscious of what they said and how they said it. Also, since we bring our own stories to every conversation, it reminds us to listen with the ear of the heart as well as mind and emotion. We may well have heard something that was different than what the person intended to communicate.

"That is an interesting idea. Tell me more about that."

Separating the person from the idea allows ego to step aside and for true learning to take place. Requesting more information also makes others feel that you are interested in them and that you are genuinely listening.

"Would you be open to hearing another idea?"

Asking permission before sharing your alternative view neutralizes the environment and prepares the other person for something new. The possibility they'll agree to listen is better than 50-50%.

Use the LIC method.

When you have a moment alone with a person, express what you like about their expression, what interests you about their statement -- and then what concerns you.

For example...

L: "Funny joke!"
I: "Where did you get it?"
C: "By the way, I'm concerned how it might have made others feel. May I share something I understand about _____?"

Do you have any ways to gently offer
a new idea when the tension is high?

Share your wisdom!

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