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If You Have a Strong Reaction, Ask Why...

Repost from February 7, 2022


If you asked my kids what was one of the most frequent things I said to them growing up they would probably say "don't ask of others what you aren't willing to do yourself." I got so good at it I could say it non-verbally just by raising my eyebrows. So it stands to reason that I don't expect our clients to do the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion without doing it myself.


One of my favorite inclusive behaviors is "if you have a strong reaction to someone / something, ask why."


This can be a life changing practice. It is a behavior that forces us to look inwards rather than outwards. Humans, such as we are, generally find it more comfortable looking at others as the reason for our circumstances or dissatisfaction. Yet, almost always, our reactions are driven by something going on in us.


This doesn't mean that another person or set of circumstances doesn't need to change. But, without developing the self-awareness and regulation of emotions that comes with emotional intelligence we may do more harm, either to ourselves or others.


Let's get real with this. When I witness misogyny there is a good chance that I am going to have a strong reaction. Not always, but often. I have spent the time exploring why I strongly react to misogynistic behavior (root cause: high personal association) and I have developed strategies that allow me to manage these feelings effectively.


Whether you are a DEI facilitator, a construction worker, a ride share driver, or a stay-at-home parent you are human. And you will have a strong reaction to something or someone. Take the time to pause. Examine your own biases and assumptions. Figure out what you need healed.


In other words, we all need to do our part in building inclusion and equity, and we start with ourselves.


-M




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