By Howard Ross

Lately, it feels like the world is coming apart at the seams.  Tragic situations both in the U.S. and around the world generate anger, stress, grief, and tension, contributing to an overall climate of fear. Every day, people in our organizations come to work immersed in the atmosphere of fear that we are living in.  How is that fear impacting us?  How do we deal with the tension that it creates both internally and interpersonally?

Click here to download a FREE copy of the “Inclusive Responses in Times of Fear” resource guide.

In order to answer these questions, it is important for us to understand how we see the world.  Throughout the course of our lifetimes, each of us has developed our own lens, our own background for how to process the events that are happening around us.  We each live by our own internal book of rules that teaches us how to be in the world. These rules create a schema, a framework through which we process information.  But those rules are different for each of us, and often for groups of us, and these incidents can be impacting us both personally and collectively.  The challenge is in understanding that impact, and being able to do something about it.

Our workplaces can become environments in which the collective stress that we feel gets played out, to the cost of elevated stress levels in employees, increased sick leave, higher levels of conflict, lower levels of productivity, distrust, poor management decisions, poor customer service, missed business opportunities and, ultimately, poorer organizational performance.

Often, organizations are afraid to bring up these subjects for fear of the conflict that they can engender.  And yet, that silence can be a statement as well that can leave concerned employees with the impression that organizational leaders are undisturbed by, or out of touch with what’s going on.  What can we do in our organizations to make sure that our commitment to inclusion isn’t derailed by this fear environment?

The key is to create dialogue about the topics at hand.  Dialogue is a distinct form of conversation.  Discussions or debates generally are designed to try to convince each other of a point of view.  Dialogues are designed to bring people together who may represent different points of view, communicate their various perspectives, interpretations and viewpoints for the purpose of mutual understanding and connection.

To help facilitate this dialogue, we have developed “Inclusive Responses in Times of Fear: A Resource Guide for Organizations and Communities.” The information in this guide empowers organizations and individuals to respond effectively to current events and engage in meaningful dialogue. This resource guide is meant to be shared widely.

We will explore this subject in further depth in our upcoming webinar, “Bridging the Gap:  Managing the Diversity Dynamics in our Politics” on October 27th. The webinar will address how to deal with the effects of today’s polarized politics in our personal and work lives.

Bridging the Gap:  Managing the Diversity Dynamics in our Politics Webinar
October 27, 2016
2:30pm-4:00pm EST
Registration Link: http://bit.ly/diversitydynamics

It is easy to see how times like this bring out the worst in people.  We can read the paper every day to notice that.  And when faced with the constant barrage of pain, suffering and fear, it is easy to get resigned and hopeless, and to contract into our own world for safety.  But what we often miss, is that sometimes periods like this can bring to the front of our conscious things that we have been avoiding looking at, or just not seeing, and in doing so, give us a greater chance than ever to learn new ways to create a true sense of diversity and inclusion.

That opportunity is upon us now.  Now is not a time to give up.  Now is a time to stand up!