As the end of summer approaches, it seems that the summer of 2016 may be remembered as a time when we reached a tipping point. I don’t profess to know why and I would not presume to write you to say that I have an answer. What I do know is that I have reached a personal tipping point and feel an obligation to speak out.
I grew up in the deep south, during the time of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement. I have been guilty of believing that things in the south have changed and improved for my friends and fellow citizens of color. And for those with a less than traditional gender identity or sexual preference. I fell prey to the belief that legalizing marriage for same sex couples and living in a community that actively fought for keeping our public schools from re-segregating meant that, while things aren’t perfect, we were on the right track.
I know that I am not alone in feeling deep sadness, anger, and frustration (the list goes on) over the discourse and violence that has escalated this summer. Helplessness was another strong feeling and one that prompted me to reach out to our newest Alliance Partner, Bonita McClure. Bonita is a gifted trainer and facilitator on the complex topic of diversity training and cross culture communication.
She kindly wrote the following article for us to share with you. I hope it helps you feel a little more prepared to have meaningful and productive conversations. Through these intentional conversations, let's create a tipping point of our own!
Tips for Engaging in Conversations Regarding Discrimination
Successfully building human relations in the U.S. and beyond rests on understanding our unique cultural fabrics and how each person may be profoundly impacted by privilege, attitudes and behaviors associated with discrimination. With the advent of media, we have witnessed the horrible tragedies ranging from the shooting of church members solely based on race in Charleston one year ago, to the shootings in Orlando, to the most recent with officers in Dallas. Fortunately, the shooting of a child behavioral worker in Miami did not end in death.
Unfortunately, these events have put a spotlight on the dire need for cultural sensitivity and awareness – and depending with whom you speak, will vary from a belief that there is improved cultural sensitivity and awareness to ever worsening acceptance of individuals of color and those who identify as LGBTQ.
I have been asked on numerous occasions (and a drastic increase most recently) how one should go about having a conversation with others about race and discrimination, and my first response has been one of gratitude to the person seeking my feedback. This conversation is a difficult one, but necessary if true healing is to happen. Nothing bridges the divide of race, culture and discrimination like informed dialogue that is grounded in a shared understanding or desire to better understand. My recommendations are a compilation of my own, in addition to thought leaders in the area of cultural competence.
Look at your motives
Take a realistic look at why you want to engage in the conversation. To prove discrimination does not exist anymore? Because you have guilt? Curiosity? To become an ally? If it is the latter, then you are in a better position to have a meaningful conversation.
Put aside your preconceived thoughts
The media does a great job in making people look bad. This is typically done by demoralizing and demeaning the images of certain groups, which in turn may create a negative imprint in your mind. I always encourage people to look and read a variety of legitimate media sources, including books,to learn the truth about systemic racism, marginalization and discrimination.
Approach the conversation with respect
To develop a true respect for differences, it is vital to understand the history of oppression in the U.S. There are multiple narratives and perspectives regarding individual experiences in the country. Discrimination and inequity are sensitive topics of discussion that may polarize a discussion very quickly. Approaching from a place of respect may help minimize discord before it arises and open the door to authentic conversation.
Listen, be honest and open
You are encouraged to reach out in the best way you know how to individuals with whom you feel most comfortable having the conversation. Please feel free to empathize without having a complete understanding of exactly how the person feels. Simply saying you are bothered by what has been happening and that you do not agree with individuals acting out based on hate or fear may be enough to start the conversation. Be genuine in your approach, and the person may be more receptive with engaging in dialogue – they may even thank you for having the courage to start the conversation.
Fast Track Fridays at Elinvar!
Our acclaimed small group coaching program, to help leaders take their presentation skills to the next level, is now booking for the Fall of 2016. Enrollment is limited to six participants who will be meeting on four consecutive Fridays from 8:30 am to 10:30 am at Elinvar in a relaxed, private and elegant setting.
If you want to ease speaking fears, improve your "vocal image" connect powerfully with audiences and gain newfound confidence in your speaking skills, this program is for you.
Here is what Fast Track participants have said about this course:
"This was the most fun and least intimidating presentations skills training ever!"
"Linda Shields' energy and passion for what the human voice can do is contagious."
"The comfort and confidence I gained has taken me to a whole new level on the platform, and in every aspect of my life."
Nationally renowned keynote speaker, executive speech/voice coach, author and radio personality, Linda Shields will provide those secret tips and techniques, guaranteed to place you on a fast track to speaking success!
All course materials are provided, including Linda's book, "The Voice That Means Business: How to Speak with Authority, Confidence and Credibility...Anytime, Anywhere."
Register now for one of our Fall 2016 Sessions, seats go quickly!
Session one: September 16th, 23rd, 30th and October 7th.
Session two: October 21st, 28th, November 4th and 11th.
Tuition: $695 per person.
Please reply to this email if you're interested in joining one of the 2016 Fall sessions or would like additional information, including other dates that might accommodate your schedule.
Learn more about Linda at: http://www.elinvar.com/linda-shields/
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