Everyone is different. Even within your own culture, you are the only person with your exact outlook on life.
Think of someone whose differences are hard for you to accept. What makes that person different? Think about the things that irritate you about that person.
Now shift your thought. Imagine you are in that person’s body, soul, and spirit. You now have her eyes, mind, and feelings. Look at yourself from the center of that other person. What do you see? Jot down three things you think that other person would find irritating about you.
Here’s what you did. You stepped out of the center of your world into somebody else’s world. The fact is, many people are uncomfortable dealing with different people. They feel uncomfortable even discussing or admitting the differences among people.
How we are raised to view and practice life shows up in how we make, do, and celebrate things. It tells us what to believe and value, and how to act in various situations.
Picture six slices of a whole apple pie. Imagine writing down on each slice of pie some of the things that make you different from other people at work. Start with the basics, such as gender, race, where you and your ancestors came from, and religion.
Now, finish this sentence: “I am a real woman because…” Did you search for the correct answer by listening to the voice of your cultural upbringing? Yep, you did.
Learning how our mind prejudges others is the first step in managing differences. We can turn our opinions, feelings, and preferences into “facts” simply by the way we talk about them. We say things like “women talk more than men” or “men are more emotional than women.”
We can choose to be separated by cultural differences, or we can come together and appreciate the richness of those differences. We have what psychologists call a confirmation bias, in which we try to fit new information into old categories to combine what we learn with what we already know.
We need to remind ourselves how little we know about others and then try to find out more. We can STOP ourselves in situations by controlling our mind, words, and actions that may harm other people because they are different from us.
Stop and ask, “Will my actions, words, and thoughts help me and others to . . .”
• Be generous with my time, skills, and knowledge.
• Communicate issues with co-workers and follow through.
• Have goals and learn new things.
• Be a team player.
Tolerate (With Love)
• In relationships, apologize, don’t hold grudges, and don’t gossip.
• Treat others how you want to be treated.
• Recognize others’ perception may be different from yours.
• Know when to walk away.
• Look for opportunities to be creative and innovative.
• Solve problems.
• Recognize common goals and many ways to accomplish the same task.
• Recognize my own prejudices.
• Help others.
• Be patient with co-workers and build positive relationships.
• Have a positive attitude at work.
• Be honest with yourself and others.
• Seek counsel, if necessary.
People different from us have something distinctive to contribute to your job, your home, and your community.