3 Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of Diversity Trainings

Karith Foster

While we are nearing the end of this month I felt moved to share with you information that I'd only received a short while ago myself. (I do hope you're sitting down when you read this.) 

April is National Stress Awareness Month. (I KNOW!) This shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a month dedicated to this issue when 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.
When I first became privy to this savvy tidbit of information the top three things that came to mind were:
  1. Annnnnd of course it is!
  2. Really? We just get one month?!
  3. Actually then, according to my calculations we've all collectively been in April since February 2020.

All joking aside, because just like the struggle- the stress is real too. My goal is to help individuals and organizations have as stress-free an environment as possible by nurturing healthy relationships and acquiring conscious communication skills.
It only seems fitting to offer tips for reducing stress within your work or academic circles when tackling what can quickly escalate into a stressful topic: Diversity.

When dealing with challenging topics like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, especially if one is a leader in charge of the programming, strategy and/or dissemination of information it literally feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Then to add insult to injury those on the receiving end of these DEI efforts aren't ever really sure what they're going to get. An insightful session that brings people together out of mutual respect, love and value (*cough cough Inversity™) or a rote divisive and polarizing experience that makes everyone feel awkward and dismissed?

To avoid the pitfalls that lead to stress-spiral that makes everyone wish they were somewhere else keep these three things in mind:

  1. Perspective. It's all a matter of perspective. And perspective can change more than Lady Gaga's wardrobe at one of her concerts. Acknowledging that each person will be coming from their own perspective because that is all they know at the time until they are introduced to another perspective is critical for creating a space of understanding and growth. This should not be a stress-factor but rather an opportunity to gather intel and gain insight through healthy and curious dialogue.

  2. Grace. I like to think of grace as kindness on steroids. It's the secret sauce for going the extra mile when stress is at the threshold to ruin everybody’s vibe. Before that toxicity and negativity can take hold, grace comes in and saves the day. Grace allows for uncomfortable conversations and moments to pass without permanence. Grace is a gift when extended to others is a gift that improves relationships and creates a space for acceptance.

  3. Forgiveness. We may think this is a two-way street, but it's actually a multi-lane highway. There are times to forgive others for their misgivings and missteps and we must also learn to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness is likely the most challenging of these three ideas, because it is human nature to want people to pay penance when they have offended. But this is when we must remember that forgiveness sometimes isn’t for the other person but for you to move on with your life. Talk about eliminating stress in one fell swoop!

For more stats about stress in the workplace visit: Zippia- The Career Expert