The world (well some of the world) has evolved and moved to a point where there are clear conversations about equity, equality, representation, diversity and self determination. These are admirable and necessary states. The reality is however, despite the desire, our world remains inequitable. Life isn’t equal.
While we will see imbalances being addressed, for example less ageing, balding, white men in a room and more women, that only addresses the imbalance, it doesn’t ensure equality.
What can you do, as an individual to ensure you can participate equally in your environment?
- If you are in a minority, be prepared to call out tokenism. You will recognise the situation, where you are the only Indigenous person, woman or person with a disability present and the group turns to you to represent the wider group of Indigenous people, females or the entire disability sector. Thank those present for acknowledging your group, while pointing out that you only represent one person from that group and that more would be achieved if the group present today had a conversation about their collective beliefs and understanding.
- Believe in yourself. You are entitled to have, and should have an opinion. Be prepared to speak up. Share your thoughts, along with the evidence to support them.
- Don’t take the rude people personally. It is so easy to be offended, to retreat and to say nothing more. There is no satisfaction in doing so, only momentary safety. Accept that others have different perspectives. When someone disgrees with you, acknowledge their perspective and thank them for their contribution to the discussion – then let it go.
- Become a continuous learner, in that way you will be recognised for your contribution to collective wisdom.
- Become an effective listener. Ask insightful questions. Be recognised as a relationship builder.
- Be prepared to challenge those that interrupt, overtalk or become hostile. Do so by asking them a question that seeks to clarify their perspective. Listen to their response, thank them again and then leave it for their 3kg of brain matter to gently remind them of their stupidity.
Lastly, be happy and keep smiling. Doing so makes your face relax, you appear less threatening and its damned difficult for someone to argue face to face with someone that is smiling.
You may not have many choices about who you attend meetings with. Where you do have a choice, try to avoid those with a history of assertive or bullying behaviour.
These are things that you have control over. The rest – don’t sweat it.
John Coxon has more than two decades experience mentoring and coaching managers at all levels. If you are loingok for support and guidance to #BeYouBeYourBest email John to express your interest. Our initial telephone conversation costs nothing and it may be all you need. If we work together I guarantee you will achieve your desired outcomes or I will refund my fee. No risk to you.