discomfort with diversity

diverse handsHow great is my committment to diversity? Do I give lip-service to the concept or do I live out my convictions with my attitudes and my actions?

I have been considering these challenging questions a lot in the past weeks, after reading two posts that tied diversity to discomfort. The basic premise explained that diversity will cause discomfort for me.

When I work, worship, or play with people who are different from me, they will present words, ideas and ways of doing things that are different from my personal preferences.

That might be more discussion or less than I like. More noise or less. Different music. Different flavors. Different values. More technology or less. More detail or less. Quiet work space or open collaboration. Different colors. Different styles. More emotion or less. More time together or more time alone. Spend more or spend less.

Because not everyone is like me,
if I am comfortable all the time, then others are not.

I work with diverse teams and with a great variety of people from all over the world. Each of my friends and each member of my family is different. If I truly want to invite, encourage, and empower the unique people around me, I must feel uncomfortable some of the time… and not just tolerate the discomfort, but really embrace it as a means to greater diversity.

  – gender – race – age – nationality – personality – religion – family background –
– economic class – political party – experience level – strengths and weaknesses –

All of these differences can cause discomfort and even conflict… but they are the source of rich diversity at home and at work.

diversity

Photo credit: estherase / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Instead of having a goal to make everyone happy; we could each willingly accept unhappiness some of the time, knowing that means someone different feels satisfied.

Rather than seek my own way, I am slowly learning to become more comfortable with my discomfort and celebrate – and even intentionally seek out – diversity that challenges me.

How do you react to situations that make you uncomfortable? What do you do to embrace diversity?

11 thoughts on “discomfort with diversity

  1. Terry, this blew me away! Thanks for this whole new perspective. I love what this will mean for me (if I start applying this perspective) to be even more available and at a deeper level for the people I serve.

  2. I, too, loved the statement that pointed out that when I’m uncomfortable others are not! If I’m REALLY seeking to put the other person first, this shouldn’t be hard to do. I will remember that the next time I’m uncomfortable with diversity! Thanks, Terry!

    • I have found that this principle comes back to me in all kinds of situations… and it makes it easier for me to be less critical and more grateful for those things that are not my personal preference. Thanks for reading, friend!

  3. Embracing the discomfort. Recognizing that we really are different. How can we know that to be true in our hearts and yet have such a difficult time dealing with its reality? Your words are wise, my friend. And timely. Thanks for the spotlight on something we need to be dealing with intentionally.

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