This year I have made important strides to step outside of my comfort zone. For me this includes learning all I can about unconscious bias, privilege, power differences, and diversity in the workplace.
Studying psychology and the biopsychosocial model as a psychotherapist-in-training helps to broaden my understanding, but it is not enough. By the end of this month, I will be a certified Diversity Coach. While my clientele is over 90 percent diverse and I identify as a person living with a physical disability, there is more I can do. It involves sharing this post with you.
Take the Diversity Walk
Recently, I completed a diversity walk. I’ve included the video link so you can participate in this 4-minute walk as well. It is an important reminder of what privilege means and what can separate us in ways we have never thought to explore.
For me, it includes the ability to feel safe and to say what needs to be said. An aspect of privilege is not worrying about feeling safe or being able to speak your mind.
How Safe Do You Feel?
- Do you feel safe to walk in your neighbourhood or kiss your partner in public?
- Do you feel safe to tell your boss about your need for greater work-life integration?
- Do you feel safe to tell your family about your decision to quit your job or about your sexual orientation?
- Do you feel safe at home or at work, with your partner, your family, or your friends?
These are but a sampling of scenarios that reflect how many do not feel safe. It leads to a term that includes, but is not limited to, creating environments where trust thrives. It is about a term called psychological safety. In the new year, team Authentika will be writing more about psychological safety and building workshops to support leaders in this key area.
What is Psychological Safety?
It means feeling able to speak up and share your ideas, beliefs, or concerns and ask questions without being afraid of ridicule, embarrassment, or hurt. As per Amy Edmondson, it is a person’s perception about the consequences of any interpersonal “risks” in their environment.
In the Workplace
Please watch this 11-minute TEDx Talk where Amy shares ways to build a psychologically safe workplace. She boils it down to three key steps: 1) frame the work as a learning problem and not an execution problem, 2) acknowledge your own fallibility and 3) model curiosity – ask more questions that invite discussion.
If you are a leader, consider that there are power differences and an invisible dynamic you might not be aware of. This dynamic might mean that someone on your team feels afraid to share or ask a question and is fearful of what might happen if they challenge the status quo.
Ask for Help
Ask for help to understand what you don’t know or where you believe you have made assumptions in the past. Consciously seek more diversity in your life, on your team, and in your friendships.
Apply The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. He invites us to practice these -- simple but not easy -- concepts:
- Be Impeccable With Your Word.
- Don't Take Anything Personally.
- Don't Make Assumptions.
- Always Do Your Best.
To learn more about The Four Agreements, please watch this 7-minute video.
We are better when we listen and learn with humility
For some people, understanding diversity, using respectful terms, asking appropriate questions feels like a journey filled with mistakes in speech and behaviour. Just start with a kind curiosity and a willingness to actively listen and make learning a commitment.
As per the futurist, Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Buzzfeed (2015). What is Privilege? https://youtu.be/hD5f8GuNuGQ
Edmondson, A. C., & Lei, Z. (2014). Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1, 23–43.https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-031413-091305
Ruiz, D. M. (1997) The Four Agreements. Amber-Allen Publishing.
TEDx Talks (2014). Building a psychologically safe workplace. Amy Edmondson. TEDxHGSE. https://youtu.be/LhoLuui9gX8
Productivity Game (2021). The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. https://youtu.be/gY7bM6iL3-U