We’ve started talking about a great movement called the Dignity and Respect Campaign (A tip for Michiana businesses: Be encouraged) and shared their 30 tips on creating an inclusive culture. My suggestion was that we follow their example here in Michiana. Today’s tip is to get someone else’s point of view. After sharing your perspective, give others a chance to share theirs.
Tip #20 was to share your point of view. We talked about the importance of recognizing those areas where you have knowledge and being willing to share it. We also touched on today’s tip, giving others the chance to share their perspectives. One of the keys here is that while we share our knowledge based on our expertise, often times what we think is expertise is really our understanding from our limited perspective. When talking about Tip #19 we shared that Chimamanda Adichie, author of Half of a yellow sun our “single story”. When we take care to listen to how others respond to our shared knowledge, and are open to truly listen to their perspectives we open the door to truly synergize and create better solutions. Those of us who use Kaizen and Lean principles in our continuous improvement efforts recognize how this simple practice calls attention to those little adjustments that lead to big benefits.
This little tip can help with how we interact personally as well. Last week a client experienced what had the potential to become a disruptive and divisive situation over a commentary shared by one of the mangers. My client shared the situation. One manager had seen a Forbes.com blog entitled, “If I were a poor black kid.” The author shared how he felt issues of disparity for blacks and other minorities should be handled. The manager felt the author was right on the money and passionately shared why he felt so. My client shared that he overheard the ensuing conversation.
“I think a year ago I would have found myself breaking up a fist fight,” he said. “Today’s politics are so acrimonious, I constantly warn against getting into these kinds of discussions.” Instead of the angry argument he expected, he heard, “I think I can see how you see it that way, but look at it from my perspective.” That’s quite an improvement from over a year ago when we first started working together. We agreed it took a concentrated effort from both managers. One to listen to and respect an opinion he disagreed with, then to share his point of view. The other to listen to and respect the perspective of a colleague and be willing to accept he might be drawing conclusions based solely on his “single story”. I would hope I could have handled the conversation as well. Because the two managers obviously have worked at building a real relationship they were able to have a very difficult conversation. It’s really just Covey’s 5th Habit revisited. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
As we celebrate the holidays what if we all focus on Tip # 21 and after sharing our point of view, we honestly listen to and value those of others? It’s a good way to continue to show others the dignity and respect they deserve.