Originally posted December 8, 2019.
We Can’t Talk About That At Work! How to Talk About Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics comes highly recommended. Mary-Frances Winters, the author and CEO of The Winters Group, has for the past 33 years consulted with all different types of organizations in their quest for inclusion.
This book came out in 2017 and couldn’t come at a better time. Currently, the United States is involved in such a toxic political and racial environment among other polarizing topics. I’m constantly asked, “How do we remove ourselves from this toxicity?” The single answer is that we must start and continue having difficult and courageous conversations. Without discussing or communicating respectfully, the toxic environment will only grow. I cannot express the importance of having these tough discussions.
How important are having tough conversations? Ask AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson. Watch Randall Stephenson as he addresses the racial tension in American Society.
Mr. Stephenson made a public statement at an employee meeting about Black Lives Matter. “Our communities are being destroyed by racial tension and we’re too polite to talk about it.” He was referring to the shootings and protests in Charlotte, NC; Ferguson, MO; Baton Rouge, LA; and Dallas, TX. In addition, he shared a story of his struggles understanding the US racial divide. Stephenson learned about experiences that his longtime friend, who happens to be African American had to go through in life. He had no idea the daily struggles his friend had to experience as a black man in America. In Stephenson’s speech, he made himself vulnerable and provided an articulated compelling reason for having the courage to discuss and have a dialogue about our differences.
Melody Hobson stated, “Invite people into your life who don’t look like you, don’t think like you, don’t act like you, don’t come from where you come from, and you might find that they will challenge your assumptions and make you grow as a person.” Ms. Hobson further stated that we need to explore why having a greater understanding of other cultures is essential to engaging bold and inclusive discussions.
Mary-Frances Winters points out that President Barack Obama once said we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can oppose someone’s perspective and not demonize that person. It is important to note that one must be cautious about being too eager to be inclusive for the sake of inclusion. There is at times a thin line between being inclusive of diverse vs. harmful positions.
Conflicting points of view make it even more important to have bold and courageous conversations. Before progress can be made, polarization issues must be addressed. As Winters indicates, we must acknowledge the elephant in the room and admit that polarization exists. Learning to have bold and courageous conversations is a journey, not a destination.
As indicated, I highly recommend We Can’t Talk About That At Work! How to Talk About Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics.
Inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging has been a topic very dear to my heart; which is the reason that I recently founded AllThingzAP, LLC. We want to assist organizations with their inclusion and diversity efforts. It is essential for you to always be your authentic self. Please go to www.allthingzap.com for additional information. With our continuing efforts creating and embracing an inclusive and diverse environment, we will overcome the polarizing topics that we currently face today in America.