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How cursing helped open my eyes to accepting differences

How cursing helped open my eyes to accepting differences

In the 1970s, when I was transitioning from a career as a chemical engineer to a diversity coach, I worked mostly with men. I noticed that a lot of them frequently cursed.

Being raised by a mother who believed ‘cursing is bad’, I had adopted that belief and it really rubbed me the wrong way. 😠 I’d get irritated and think, You don’t say words like that, it’s bad to curse. I would even actively scold the men and say “No, no, no! You shouldn’t curse!”

Then one day, when I was talking to my coach at the time about it, I got caught by surprise. She said , “Who are you to judge if they curse all the time? That’s not what you’re here to do’’.😲 And then she said something that stopped me in my tracks. She said, ”When you tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do, you have entered into a conversation that has nothing to do with honoring diversity. 🤯And damn, (cursing intended) 😅 she was right!

It reminded me of the bible verse from Matt 7:1-3, which says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Her comment was very timely.

There I was, the “diversity” coach and I had fallen into an unconscious trap of judging others because they were different from me. Not only that, but more importantly, I had let my unhealthy relationship with a difference distract me from what I was really there to do: deliver seminars to create a unified workforce. I had gotten so used to thinking of diversity as a problem happening out there, that I overlooked how it was affecting my own attitudes and behaviors and contributing to a divisive work culture. 🤪 That awareness forever changed the way I approached diversity work.🤲

D for Differences instead of Diversity

It’s been my experience that the words Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) often keep people, like me, stuck thinking about differences in a very limited way and missing our personal connection to the problem. Organizations innocently try to “fix diversity issues” without realizing that the way they are focusing on it, i.e. disregarding the influence, personal accountability and impact each individual has on its resolution, keeps the cycle in effect. 🔁

Depending on how it’s approached, diversity can be a distraction or a source of power. That is why in my last blog, I introduced a new roadmap for assisting organizations with their DEI efforts:

D.N.A (Differences, Neutrality, Authenticity); A sustainable and freeing way to build thriving cultures of diverse, self-empowered people who honor their differences and commitments.

The D in D.N.A. stands for DIFFERENCES (I invite you to read my last blog before continuing 💕).

DIFFERENCES represent the totality of what makes each of us a unique human being. They include obvious differences like appearance or how we drink our tea or coffee as well as a million subtle ones like our unique gifts, talents, preferences, mannerisms, instincts and beliefs.

Making the mistake of elevating a few, external differences above all the other differences is like staring at the tip of the iceberg and ignoring the magnitude of what lies beneath the surface. Expanding our concept of how different we actually are, is as important as investigating and maturing the way we relate to those differences.🔍

Fact vs. internal bias

You see, the fact that I got irritated when the men cursed was the indicator that I had an internal bias about cursing (an unhealthy relationship with a difference).💡 In truth, some people use “curse” words and some people don’t. It’s just a fact. Of course, I can choose to engage or disengage with that behavior, honoring my own difference, but if I’m doing so with bad vibes and letting it permeate the culture by making it a value judgment, I have work to do.🚧

For the record, I’ve found that 99.9% of the time when a person gets upset, it’s because they have an internal bias about a difference they experienced. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having internal biases, by the way, it’s human. The problems only arise when a lack of awareness allows those biases to wreak havoc on our relationships and commitments. 😉

This is why examining one’s relationship with differences is the first step for addressing “diversity issues.” It will lead to enjoying healthy work environments, uplifting team dynamics and achieving results because of a self- empowered workforce. ✅ I would love for you to experiment with this topic of embracing subtle differences in the coming days and share what you discover.

Let’s experiment

What might you find by investigating your relationship with differences in a deeper way? How would it feel to be truly accepted as the unique human you are in the world? How might you change the way you work if your differences empower you rather than cause you to try to fit in, change others or prove yourself?

Below are some examples of common situations just to get you thinking.

  • Your co-worker likes to work in silence, you love to work with the radio on.
  • Your boss shows appreciation by giving you tasks that have more responsibility, while you like to use words of appreciation.
  • Your team leader has a talent of looking at the bigger picture, you on the other hand like to attend to the details.
  • Your mom likes to wing her recipes, where you’d rather follow the recipe to the T.
  • Your partner’s decision making seems to take forever, where it’s easy for you to decide in the moment.

Like I said, there are more differences than we could ever count, but I believe you get the gist 😉.

The marriage between DNA and D.N.A.

By the way, I just love how the D in D.N.A. goes hand in hand with the science of DNA, meaning that in order to thrive (to develop and function properly), we must honor the unique blueprint that makes each of us different. Even identical twins, though they may look the same on the outside, often have very different perspectives, experiences, interests, and worldviews despite the fact that they had the same upbringing and mostly identical DNA.

Remember: Beyond what we are born with, our exposure to millions of different external influences (like religion, cultures, education, for example) ensures that no two humans will ever be exactly alike. Some of those differences are bound to activate an internal bias but don’t worry! You’ll know one has been activated when you feel upset because negative emotion is the indicator to investigate your relationship with the difference you experienced. By writing down the differences you observe, without any stories or judgments, as well as your belief about it, you may begin to see differences as neutral facts, not good or bad. Happy hunting!

In the next blog we will look at the N in D.N.A. which stands for neutrality and see how it supports the process of transforming our healthcare industry and our relationships to one another. Hope to see you then.

The feeling of ‘inclusivity’ had very little to do with DEI

Do you want to be recognized as a great team leader, because of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, or your gender?


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