Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Appearances may be Deceiving

At work we have been talking a good bit about diversity as part of a diversity initiative. Part of that program includes an exercise where you choose which person you would rather be. This exercise forces people to choose among choices which will generate certain assumptions. Afterwards the group then examines those assumptions and talks about how they may or may not be accurate.

I inadvertently tested my assumptions the other day. It was pretty cool. I was walking out of my office when I saw two people approaching on the street. One was an Indian woman wearing scrubs and carrying a plastic bag which I assumed was her lunch. She was walking in the general direction of the hospital. The other person was an African American man, walking the other way and just wearing street clothes. The approched each other silently but when they were just about to cross paths they suddenly give each other a high-five, speak briefly with honest happiness to see each other and then they just keep moving.

I was kinda stunned. I totally assumed these people did not know each other and like I probably would, they would just pass each other silently like most others. Maybe I should start walking around town giving high-fives....

I thought that was cool.


Ally said...

My boss and I were just talking about assumptions we make about people. I especially like meeting a client--but after we've spoken numerous times and I've worked on their file for months and formed a mental impression of what I think she looks like.

And my clients, etc. are often surprised when they meet me; they always assume I am older.

p.s. Most diversity training seems like a bunch of crap. More of a CYA.

icadle said...

Yeah, its amazing what you can put together on someone in your head and its challenging when those assupmtions are tested. As for the training, I do think they really intend to focus on this and be proactive. It forced me to think more about my assumptions.