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I got into a conversation on Facebook the other day, about race.
It went about as well as you’d expect. Most of the people were speaking candidly and truthfully about the issue, but there were others who were oblivious, uninformed, or unaware of perspectives and experiences other than their own.
Race is a difficult subject, in the United States certainly and other places as well. Many people don’t talk about race much, and if you don’t practice something, it’s hard to do.
But sometimes you have to talk about race. If your organization is discussing why it identifies and onboards excellent diverse talent, but keeps losing them – you need to talk about race. If there is ever any conflict in which race is an issue, you need to talk about race. If your organization serves a diverse population, but you yourselves aren’t diverse, you need to talk about race.
Here’s one simple technique to make conversations about race easier.
When someone talks to you about his or her experience in the organization, or perspective on life in general, believe them. At least, during the conversation, tell yourself that everything they’re saying is 100% true.
That’s all there is to it.
The reason this works is because it’s inherently difficult to grasp how someone else’s experience in life can be very different from your own, so it’s easy to unconsciously discount what the other person says; this technique will help you make sure you don’t do that.
So, when talking about race, no matter whether it’s a conversation you want to have, or a conversation you need to have, make the conversation easier. When someone tells you his or her experience in the organization, or perspective on life, believe them.
Photo credit: Tony Hall, CC BY-ND 2.0.