by Jeffrey M Gresio:
Going as far back as the seventies, businesses and government got it in their heads that they needed to do something about the difficulties arising in the work place and our society because of culture clashes and the tension between sexes.
Their researchers had found that these difficulties stemmed from lack of understanding and preconceived ideas that each group had about the other. They determined that a false understanding or their lack of knowledge of their co-workers or customers was the root cause of most trouble in the work place or people’s inability to relate to their customers and vise-a-versa.
They hypothesized that if each group understood more about the other groups heritage, background, culture, cuisine, customs, religions, preferences, dislikes, etc, then the other groups would be more likely to be receptive and accepting. They theorized that this knowledge and new understanding was the missing ingredient among people in the work force to cause them to gel and meld together in an atmosphere of brotherly love, peace and harmony. They thought if they could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony we could all buy each other a Coke, and enjoy each other’s company. And America would be culturally richer for it.
In their infinite wisdom, government agencies and corporations instituted educating their employees and the public at large, in understanding the different groups of people who make up the American culture and call it #Diversity Training. The Diversity experience was designed to foster pride in our all being different; teaching us to embrace those things that set us apart culturally.
The mandated training became more and more an expected component of the work place landscape. It has been force fed to everyone; from the fry cook at McDonalds, to the head of marketing at IBM, to the field agent at the I.R.S..
Over the years it has been tweeked to accommodate whatever new tension is believed to be hindering performance and production in the workplace. And has attempted to address whatever the new injustice of the month might be. Little things added like, sensitivity training, sexual harassment in the work place, poor personal communication skills.
Here is the problem. Just like all those who believe in the utopia of pure communism, it always fails because it ignores and does not address the elements of human nature and human chemistry.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So to has been the endeavor to find the magic elixir to cure all ills of personal interactions in the work and market place. Despite what the cooperate trainers, government statistics and the media tell you, it isn’t working, and hasn’t worked. The fact is, systemic studies have shown just the opposite. Diversity Training has backfired and actually resulted in a lack of diversity, bolstered resentments and desensitized us to discrimination and racism complaints thus resulting in them being taken less seriously.
Here is where it all went wrong in this writer’s humble opinion. Though there is some truth in the adage, “We fear what we don’t understand.” By nature, we also don’t like what is different. And speaking for myself, I don’t like anything at anytime being crammed down my throat and being told it’s good for me. The thing that draws most people together is not understanding the things that make us different but, seeing the things that make us the same. What do I mean by that? When we see other people as we see ourselves is when we start to feel caring and compassion. When we start to understand that the person, behind those eyes, under that hair, inside that skin, despite their gender, feels pain the same way I do, hurts the same way I do, bleeds the same way I do. When I understand that they have the same fears as me, the same needs as me, and the same wants and concerns for their families and loved ones as me, then I begin to care for them, have compassion for them and want to know them. Now I am willing to learn about them and see the beauty in what makes them different from me. And now, because there is a bond, I want and am willing to learn about them, their culture, their heritage and all the things that make them, them.
So, in the end, you can’t force people to like each other. Hell, most of us are doing good just tolerating each other, never mind like. We all have different chemistries and likes and dislikes. And we’re never all going to get along. There will always be problems in the work place and market place. And at the end of the day, they all need to be addressed individually. Not like #Starbucks, over reacting and going to ridiculous extremes. But rather addressing each one, looking at the people involved understanding we’re all different, but at our core, we are all the same.