Dimension of Diversity
Race and/or gender are not the definition of diversity. Diversity is all of us and how we are so different. To better understand diversity it can be broken down into four different dimensions and classifications. These points will help you begin to pick apart the complex topic of diversity. Dimensions
1. Dimension may be hidden/ visible
a. Race, gender and possible age or wealth index may be a visible dimension that / would classify people into one group. b. Intelligent, non-religious, and vegetarian are term that would identify a person to one group that would be hidden, until of course the person shared the information. b.i. Example- Sarah is a Caucasian, female in 40’s that is athletically built, truthful and caring. The first 4 descriptive words are physical traits that people can see. The last two characteristics are something that are not seen, but after time spent with Sarah it would be known.
2. Dimensions of diversity are found within groups as well as individuals a. Each person is different, so even when there is a group of like people there are going to be difference within the group. a.i. Example- In a small diversity class of students there are 20 or so students that are all working towards passing the class taught by Madison. All thought the group of people all are working towards the same goal; they are all very different in their approach to passing the class. They are all students, but they are graduating at different times, they have different working styles, communication styles and are different ages. 3. Dimensions of diversity are in a constant state of flux
a. Individuals are constantly changing as well as the environment around them a.i. Example- When Danielle B. is at school she sees herself and acts as a student, but when she is at home or with family she sees herself and acts like a mother. 4. Dimensions of diversity are not always clear cut or easily defined a. Diversity is not the same to everyone
a.i. Some people believe that diversity is simple race and/ or gender.
Diversity is multidimensional and has various classifications from different scholars. Breaking down diversity helps us to become more aware of differences among individuals.
Classifications of diversity
1. Personal Characteristic (hidden/visible)
a. Appearance, health, educational background, family/marital status, faith, religion and recreation 2. Location Characteristics
a. Housing, neighborhood, city, state, country
3. Work Characteristics
a. Income, seniority, department, company, work status, field of work, paid/ unpaid employee, location 4. Population Characteristics
a. Ability, age, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic orgin
How you perceive the listed characteristics also can classify a person because it makes them different from the next person. Diversity is an extremely complex and broad topic that many people just ignore. Gaining an understanding, and indulging in others that are different than you will build awareness in your knowledge box.
Now that there is a better way of wrapping our minds around diversity; skills can be addressed. Diversity skills are really just people skills. They are techniques that we use to better understand and work with people who are different than us. The key phrase to understand is “different than us”.
Communication is one of the most important skills that encompass the way people process and share information. It requires: 1. Active Listening
a. Really understanding and hearing what the person is saying and finding
interest in their topic. 2. Various ways/ styles to communicate effectively with people a. Aggressive, passive aggressive, and passive
b. Communicate differently among groups
c. Body language
d. Add some humor or light to the context
d.3.a.a. “results suggest that relational factors, such as one’s humor, may be important to the enactment of organizational citizenship behaviors among subordinates” 3. Tools of communications
a. Emails, phones, text, visual aids, letters, blogs, social media network sites, virtual network sites
People are all different. Take the time to listen to them and understand what they are trying to convey and then respond in a way that they will understand. Body language, electronic tools, and spoken language are all modes of communication that can be used to communicate more effectively. An amazing leader knows that communication is a skill that is built upon and continually developing.
Conflict is defined as “one party perceives it’s interest are being opposed or set back by another party” (Kreitner and Kinicki). Conflict can be classified as functional or dysfunctional. 1. Functional
a. More of a positive conflict that applies to “constructive or cooperative” conflict. (Kreitner and Kinicki) 2. Dysfunctional
a. “Threaten the organizational interest” (Kreitner and Kinicki)
“Dealing effectively with conflict requires fundamental skills in interpersonal relationships.”(Diversity Counciouceness, 169)
According to an executive assistant that has had years of experience in social management dealing with conflict. She and her colleague believe there are nine skills that help manage conflict (Hagman and Stroope). 1. problem
a. being able to work through a problem
2. asking for help
a. If you don’t know how to do something, ask for help so that a bigger problem is prevented. 3. engaging people to talk and work together
a. Get everyone input and work together
4. communicating with sources of opposition in order to reach a compromise a. Talk to the person that does not agree, and compromise.
5. practicing avoidance techniques
a. Spotting signals of frustration and letting the person calm down before you try to diffuse the situation 6. letting chance decide the outcome in moments of disagreement a. Let time solve the issue
7. accepting responsibility
a. Take responsibility of your actions in the issue
8. apologizing when appropriate
a. Remember to say you’re sorry when appropriate
9. using humor to alleviate awkward situations.
a. Never hurts to add light to a dark situation
Although many people will try to avoid conflict, it still does occur because people are different. Conflict is not always necessarily negative either. It can be functional or dysfunctional. Conflict will be a constant challenge in the workplace and there are steps to take to resolve the issue. A strong leader will not let conflict destroy the ultimate goal, but will find ways to turn the conflict into a positive outcome.
“Empathy is the capacity to recognize or understand another’s state of mind or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes”, or to in some way experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself” There are so many fascinating explanations of empathy on the internet. What it really comes down to is putting “yourself in another their shoes” and viewing the world in the way that they would.
Six habits according to, Dr. Roman Krznaric, that some empathetic people have are: 1. Curiosity about different people
a. “Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own.” 2. Challenging prejudices and seeing the commonalities
a. We all of prejudices but if we could see beyond the them, there would be some common interest or characteristics that we shared with the other person. 3. Try another person’s life
a. Experiment in different lifestyles, social groups, ethnic groups, activities, etcetera. 4. Listen hard and open up
a. Falls under diversity skill of communication
5. Inspire mass action and social change
a. Begin with our youngest population and educate and influence them to be empathetic 6. Develop an ambitious imagination
a. Don’t just empathize with those that you believe are suffering. Empathize with all whose thoughts are different.
These habits will help one to attain strong diversity skills and interpersonal skills for life. A stand-out leader will want to develop their sense of empathy to better understand desires of their team members.
Self-evaluation is being able to look back at how you handled a situation and assess and improve yourself. Steps to self-evaluation are:
1. Think about the situation you were just in or the task that you just completed 2. Ask yourself questions
a. How did I handle it?
b. How were my emotions?
c. Was I comfortable?
d. What could I do better?
e. How did I handle the conflict?
3. Assess yourself and compare the improvement or lack of improvement 4. Know
your short-comings and strengths and build on them
5. Learn from mistake and always improve yourself
Self-evaluation is self awareness of one’s self. A mindful leader will know their strengths and weakness and be eager to improve.
“Leadership refers to the ability to influence group members and enable them to work together and achieve their goals” (Diversity Consciousness, 170) There are some traits that make a great leader. The most important are in no specific order: Honesty
Intuition, gut feeling
Ability to Inspire
Ability to delegate the job to the right person
Ability to make a group a team
Leadership can involve many other traits or qualities but what it really comes down to is inspiring individuals. There are many different styles or approaches of leaderships that can be use to motivate people. A great leader will have strong people skills and exude confidence.
Hagemann, Bonnie, Stroope, Saundra. “CONFLICT MANAGMENT.” T+D 66, no. 7 (July 2012): 58. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed July 20, 2013). Kreitner, Rober and Kinicki Angelo. Organizational Behavior 10th Edition. McGraw Hill, 2012. Textbook. Krznaric, Roman. “Six Habits of Highly Empathic People.” 27 November 2012. Greater Good the Science of a Meaningful Life. 20 July 2013. Martin, Diane M. and Craig O Rich and Barbra Mae Gayle. “Humor Works:
Communication Styles and Humor Functions in Manager/Subordinate Relationships.” Southern Commnicationm Journal 69 (n.d.): 206-222. Reference.com. 20 July 2013.