Listen to each other’s experiences and explore the ways some groups feel intentionally and unintentionally “othered” or marginalized. It is harder for you to fully understand their experiences while having limited to no interactions with them. You have to go out of you way to be exposed to their reality and learn from their experiences.
In order to maximize your learning about others, you need to listen without judgment or defensiveness. This does not make you weak. It allows you to view others’ experiences at face value and to learn from them without your objections. Most people put up walls because they are afraid that considering the views of others takes away their power. They feel they might be taken advantage of or lose their influence by being inclusive. It is important to confront those feelings and what influences them -- for you personally.
We all have our own ways to make sense of our realities and actions. We hold tightly to certain ideas, beliefs and objects because they help identify who we are. We create walls that prevent us from listening to others in order to protect our identity and the way we operate. We do this because we’re afraid that without our walls we might lose our sense of who we are.
Listening with curiosity expands our knowledge of others. It allows us to learn more and expand our perspectives. We have to instill the practice of listening into our interactions with others. We have to admit we do not know what we do not know. Taking ownership of this perspective removes the pressure of being right in the absence of what we don’t know. It also removes the feeling that, in order to make sense of things, we have to match the real experiences of others with our limited understanding of them.
How to Listen with Curiosity.
Tune out your inner voice while you are listening to others.
Visualize what the person is saying from their perspective.
Remind yourself it is not about you when you find yourself wanting to defend your perspective based on something said that does not align with your view.
Inclusivity: the quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally (Cambridge English Dictionary Definition).
Learn to Identify where You Stand Today with Diversity and Inclusivity
What is your perspective—and what influences your views—on inclusivity and diversity?
Where does it show up in your life physically?
Where does it only show up in your mind but not physically?
Where do you struggle with inclusivity and diversity?
The process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want, or to control what happens to you (Cambridge English Dictionary Definition). Empowering others who might be marginalized and not be fully represented within your community. It is important to keep in the back of your head that not everyone in your environment feels as empowered as you, or feels a sense of belonging like you do. It might be something simple, and seemingly insignificant, as the food served in your cafeteria or the types of cloths most people in your environment wear.
There are people in your community who do not feel empowered because of the social, race and economic constructs of your community. In order to change this, you have to be intentional in building relationships with them and understand their experiences in order to confront the environment constructs that are preventing them from being empowered. As you build relationships with others, explore what empowerment means to them. Advocate for a place that encourages such and environment.
Are you aware of people in your community who are marginalized and whose preferences are not represented?
Do you have friends/students/colleagues who might fall in this bucket?
What do you do to empower them?
What are you doing to not empower them?
Where do you see your school/organization missing the mark in empowering minority and marginalized populations?
What are some opportunities where you can empower them?
It is important to know your individual actions can transform an environment for others who might not see themselves represented in it. Create personal check-ins to evaluate how you are coming across to others. These check-ins will help you pay more attention to becoming a welcoming and inclusive person. Always keep this question in mind, when was the last time I got to know someone in my environment whom I didn’t previously communicate with?