Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: What if I Say the Wrong Thing?

Tulsa HR Services

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In order to move diversity and inclusion in the workplace forward we must be willing to experience some level of discomfort, get a little uncomfortable; as we like to say, one must get comfortable with being uncomfortable during this journey.

As we intentionally take the time to engage with those different than us, we may be faced with the sudden question of “what if say the wrong thing?” Equally, how should I act if someone says the wrong thing.

Well, since none of us are perfect, I would say sincerely apologize if you offend someone and keep it moving. Throughout each of our journeys there will be road blocks, twist and turns and other things that can halter any attempt at progress.

Many times, our mouth can be the biggest culprit as we often don’t think before we speak. However, we should never let the fear of not knowing what to say keep us from saying anything at all.

Below are three tips offered by Diversity & Inclusion Expert Verna Myers from her compelling book, What If I say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits For Culturally Effective People.

  1. If you don’t want to say the wrong thing, pause before you speak. It seems so obvious! Yet it’s crucial.
  2. Engage, rather than disengage. You might be tempted to withdraw from a relationship after putting your foot in your mouth. But try to see it as an opportunity to deepen the relationship, rather than a reason to abandon it.
  3. Learn to apologize. Sometimes when we move out of our intimate circle, our instinct is to defend ourselves (“that’s not what I meant!”) rather than to apologize. But intent is not the same as impact. An apology should look and feel like an apology. Give it the attention it deserves, and remember that apologizing is not a sign of weakness. People know that no one is perfect; what they don’t like is when we pretend to be.

It is important for individuals to engage in various diversity and inclusion training opportunities whenever they are available to them.

Luxa offers you the opportunity to say the wrong thing each quarter during our Courageous Conversations Luncheons in a safe and welcoming environment. Click the link below to find upcoming training events hosted by Luxa.


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