Thriving in Diversity -- Stop, Look, Listen

The first STOP in difficult listening is to quit the current altercation, but don't quit engaging. Get a drink of water. Take a deep breath. Stop breathing for a moment. Count to ten. Smile to yourself. Keep pleasant eye contact if possible. Stop and stay. 

The first LOOK in difficult listening uses the question, How are we different? A variety of professional assessment instruments and consultants can help discover diversity. Close observation of behaviors, feelings, and results can also describe diversities.

The first LISTEN in difficult listening requires talking together clearly about how we are different, saying "I" and not "you." I listen to you honestly say what you like and then I honestly say what I like. And we laugh together over how we are different.

After listening together and laughing together about how we are different, then we can re-assign tasks, space, and resources according to our various likes. Extrovert gets front office in traffic; introvert gets back office, etc. Agree to adjust boundaries.

If the fun methods for thriving in diversity don't solve the listening difficulty, then something more than mere diversity is at play. While still saying "I," check for and give apologies and corrections. If still troubled, then study the next kind of difficult listening.

If the ethnic, religious, and economic diversities were simple differences, thriving among them would easy. Usually there’s an added factor like ethnic privilege or resentments, like religious correctness or vindictiveness, like economic greed or grumbling.

If the work to thrive in diversity is in a church setting, there are added resources for handling the extras often accompanying diversity. These resources include forgiveness, choices to offer acceptance, and choices to live in contentment. 

Copyright 2014 Wilma Zalabak