How do you talk to people in a professional realm about racism? This isn’t the kind of thing we are going to have solid answers on – in fact, that’s part of the problem. But we are willing to have the conversation, and we hope you join us. ...
How do you talk to people in a professional realm about racism? This isn’t the kind of thing we are going to have solid answers on – in fact, that’s part of the problem. But we are willing to have the conversation, and we hope you join us.
Why is that important for business?
These conversations are hard, complicated and messy, but they also can’t be ignored. We need to have these conversations, and we need to listen, because until people feel heard, you can’t have a discussion. Admitting that you don’t know how to talk about it, but you feel it is important to discuss can be a great starting point. Like with grief, there are no magical words that will say that will make this better, so don’t let “what if I don’t say the perfect thing” hold you back – there is no perfect thing to say. A lot of it is just showing up. Just acknowledging.
Is it better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all? The point is – don’t make it about you, or your perspective, and acknowledge that you don’t know. As we talked about all the way back in Episode 3, When Leadership=Looking Dumb? (https://soheresmystory.com/episodes/ep03-when-leadership-looking-dumb/), this is not about having answers, but convening the space for the questions and conversations that can change a thing.
And no – you can’t just follow your instincts, as your natural instincts are borne out of your own (non-universal and maybe privileged) experiences and perceptions, and are therefore not the best way to navigate conversations with someone who has a different lived experience. So make sure you are prepared to listen. You don’t have to stake out a prescription; you just have to acknowledge the issue.
And when you find yourself hesitating to say anything for fear of having your fingers slapped, remember – it isn’t about you. Don’t let yourself be more worried more about yourself and the perception of me than you are about saying the thing that needs to be said.
This is a discussion, and we would like to have it with you. Let us know what you think.
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