Many people struggle relating to and or connecting with others who do not look like them or share similar experiences and backgrounds. In the 21st century, the ability to communicate and work with people from different racial and ethnic groups will be as essential as computer skills.
The United States is already one of the most diverse societies in the world. America is more diverse now than at any other point our history. Our children will inherit an even more diverse society. We need to help them and others learn to live and work closely with people whose race, religion, or culture may be different from their own.
5 ways to begin the process of connecting with others outside your peer group in the office:
1. Easy– Smile! Make it easy to approach you and be willing and open to learning a bit about them and also share who you are etc… One of your biggest obstacles will be getting people to open up and feel comfortable around you so do not discount it. Tip: Start small and get friendly with just one person outside your peer group and allow that relationship to develop.
2. Educating– Spend some time learning about other cultures both recent and in history. Become an encyclopedia of knowledge about your background but also show a strong and sincere interest in other cultures too. Tip: Teaching others something new greatly enhances your likeability and is a whole lot of fun.
3. Exploring– Are you comfortable inquiring as to why they prefer this over that or how they decided to do this vs. that. Get comfortable asking questions about who they are, what drives them, what they do in their free time etc… Tip: Building relationships develops over time and it must be built on a foundation of mutual respect.
4. Engaging- Are you likeable? Are you genuinely interested in them? What makes you different? Tip: They will not allow you in until they trust you and they will not trust you until they know you genuinely care about them.
5. Exceptional- Spend less time talking and more time listening. Your mission is to be different, talk different, ask different questions and be present in the moment with them. Tip: Authenticity is a must-have!
I have experienced first-hand what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. I have embarked on a journey to give back and share some lessons learned along the way.
A great life is measured by ones progress not perfection!