Changing Your Cultural Perspectives
A number of years ago I went back to college to work on my master’s degree. I remember looking around the room in my first class and noticed a diverse group of people. There were students in their early twenties, thirties, forties and fifties. There were African American, Hispanic, Native American, Indian, Oriental and Anglo Saxon people. There were able bodied individuals, and those with physical limitations. After we introduced ourselves, it became clear that there were some people who were heterosexual and some people who were homosexual. I also learned that some people were administrators from their organization who earned close to a six figure income, and others who were just starting out in their career and were earning approximately thirty thousand dollars per year.
I Would Learn Something Unexpected
I soon figured out I was going to gain much more valuable knowledge about diversity than the suspect class material. Having been raised in a lower middle class white neighborhood, I had very little exposure to different ethnic groups. Over the past twenty eight years of my professional career of training and consulting, I had been exposed to mainly individuals who were middle class Anglo Saxon.
Cultural Diversity Opened My Eyes
With this kind of a background, it was easy to develop preconceived notions of diverse groups of people with whom I did not have much contact. I was for all intents and purposes blind to how things really were. During the two and half years it took me to complete my master’s degree, I had the opportunity to engage in conversations, work with, and get to know, a wide range of diverse individuals. I found myself seeing things from a different perspective and having new internal conversations with myself. All of this resulted in slowly changing my cultural bias and preconceived notions of others who were different than me.
Here is my point. Give yourself a chance to get to know others who are different than you. Enroll in classes at a community college, serve on volunteer committees, and put yourself in situations that will allow you to expand your awareness level of the diverse groups that are part of your community. Maybe the best thing of all is that when you “take the road less travelled”, you will give yourself the opportunity to better get to know yourself.
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Tom Borg is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, speaker, coach and author. He helps companies and organization become more profitable by increasing their value and lowering their costs through the professional development of their managers and employees.