The concept of training is delivering information to change performance. Performance is linked to how we reach desired goals, or simply put – how we do things. So, I conclude that issues of race, tolerance and diversity are entirely too complex for a training environment.
I know. The diversity trainers of the world are wailing in contempt.
Let me start at the beginning. Racism is a learned behavior. It is deeply ingrained into one’s identity, psyche and belief system. Only an idiot (sorry no other word would fit here) would believe such a character flaw can be changed in a day (or even a week) of training. Sure, you can teach your team some “no no” behaviors, but at the core the flawed beliefs will remain. If the beliefs remain, the actions will always re-surface in conscious and unconscious behaviors.
I won’t do it!
As a consultant, I stay clear of offering diversity training. I’ve attended many and been trained to deliver some. Still, I conclude they do not work.
What does work? Let me tell you, an effective diversity process occurs on a very personal, micro-level. In my opinion, a training environment inhibits this process more than it facilitates it.
People need to be alone over a period of time for such in-depth personal, self-exploration to truly transpire. They need the tools and the resources to contemplate, examine and asses. THEN [again] they must be left alone to process and self-examine. This does not happen in a training setting. A weekend retreat with lots of alone time could be a first step (note: first step), but still the alone time is critical to re-program.
My own journey…
I recently began this very process for my own personal improvement. Once I had acquired the tools, here is how I began to challenge, modify and test my own issues of tolerance.
They told me wrong information. I acknowledge that I have been “fed’ messages about people from my first “teachers” (my family) and the media. I have my “stuff” and so do you. I believe specific things about (some) people based on information I received during my formative years and life experiences.
I self-examine Teri. Consistently I must “bump up against” conclusions I draw about people I do not actually know. I must question my motivations and perceptions. For example, if a man makes me uncomfortable, I must ask myself if my discomfort is rooted in something “real” or an assumption my first “teachers” taught me. That is where I start. Then I proceed to to examining my “stuff” further.
Yup, I have stuff. To be truly authentic, I must accept my “stuff” (emotional, experiential baggage) and begin re-programming my thinking. Re-programming takes time. In the meantime, I resolve, commit, determine to not let my “stuff” affect how I interact with people. It cannot interfere with real life.
Summary of my points:
Recognize I have “stuff” + I question/challenge myself +Re-program and re-route my thinking + controlling my “stuff” so it does not interfere with relationships and interactions = A better Teri.
It’s really ok…
Hey, the bottom line is we all make snap judgments. Those judgments are like instantaneous “movies” that play in our brains the minute we meet a new person. Don’t beat yourself up about this. No one is truthfully colorblind. But, we cannot let it interfere with work, friendships, gestures of kindness or collaboration. Stop the movie and play another one.
No. Diversity training will not make your environment more tolerant. The only thing that will is self-examination, self-improvement and an opportunity for meaningful non-threatening interactions and the latter is something TCB Consulting can help you create.
Am I right? Wrong? Indifferent?