Empathy and Relationship Skills are requirements for Effective Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practice Part 2 of 3
In the previous article, we recognized that as social and communal beings the way in which we anticipate and match other’s emotions influences how we develop a state of agreeableness with others, which can either promote or hinder human community and connection The key to promoting a state of agreeableness is developing self-awareness skills. This entails recognizing our self-centered nature which manifests itself in varying degrees of intolerance for diversity. Part of developing self awareness skills is the ability to recognize our innate capacity to perceive differences as threatening, as well as understanding why we have such perceptions (Larrier, 2016, Morgan, 2015). However, as the world becomes more diverse due to the free movement of people across geographical borders, and the formation of a global village due to the rise and adoption of digital technologies, there is an urgent need to accept diversity, ensure equity, and promote inclusion.
This can be achieved by being intentionally conscious of how our thoughts, interactions, mindsets, and emotions (TIME) overtly and covertly circumvent our capacity to forge and maintain healthy relationships with others who we perceive as being different from ourselves. This intentionality is foundational for social emotional education to occur and by extension social emotional wellness as an outgrowth. Therefore, this article will focus on the Manage and Express plots of the RUMERTIME Process®,which will move you closer to developing social emotional competence by detailing how you can promote conscious living and intra- and interpersonal balance through self and relationship management and as well as the development of social awareness skills.
Within the context of social emotional wellness, Manage is associated with the development of self management and relationship management skills to address one’s TIME. This is grounded in the understanding that thoughts are at the foundation of interactions and emotions, while dominant and recurring thoughts result in the formation of mindsets (Larrier , 2016). Finally, your thoughts inform the expression of your emotions, therefore, what you are thinking is linked to the emotion you are feeling. For instance, being from a majority group can reinforce the thinking that one is superior to others which influences how one behaves around others such as “talking over” the perceived ‘inferior’ persons. When this continues unchecked or unchallenged, it results in the ‘inferior’ person having no right to correct or question another’s judgment, and when this happens, it results in feelings of anger and/or defensiveness on the part of the majority group person. In such a scenario, this hinders the formation of community and connection with people from other groups that one may perceive as ‘inferior’ in comparison.
However, from the acquired self-awareness of the Recognize and Understand plots , it is possible to call oneself out on unhealthy thinking patterns and inculcate some degree of open-mindedness by engaging oneself and others. That is, monitoring how one thinks about others and situations in relation to oneself, how one treats others and reacts to situations, how one’s attitudes about themselves and others contribute to their approach to situations, and finally, how one feels about themselves and others in different situations. Self management and relationship management skills encompasses using one’s awareness of their TIME to consciously determine what to say or do to positively direct one’s behavior. Collectively, the aim of both self- and relationship- management is to create and fortify bonds so that everyone feels heard, understood, and valued, which is central to the acceptance of diversity, ensuring equity, and promoting inclusion.
Since societal development starts at the individual level and then permeates to the communal level, the capacity to ensure and promote community and connection should also be understood on the same plane. Therefore, by managing one’s TIME, one acquires self-discipline, self-motivation, and impulse control; whilst advancing goal setting and stress management as related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). From the example outlined earlier, self-awareness contributes to recognizing and understanding that they are in a privileged position. Under the Manage plot, such an individual can effectively manage their TIME to ensure they do not approach situations from a position of privilege. In this way, such an individual will be successful in forging and maintaining healthy relationships with others, communicating effectively, and managing their emotions and behaviors to solve problems related to the acceptance and promotion of DEI. Therefore, in addition to the determination of the underlying factors that cause biases that ingrain systemic, institutional, and structural oppression and racism as noted by Saska (n.d.), it is possible to challenge these factors through one’s effective management of their TIME.
Arguably, the Manage plot is heavily focused on self-management but prepares and primes the user for a smooth transition into the relationship management and social awareness plot. The Express plot uses a highlighter approach as it shows an alignment with an essential and common building block, empathy, without which relationship management and social awareness are nearly impossible to achieve. Social awareness is described as being other-focused which includes a state of mindfulness for other people’s perspectives, culture, concerns, needs, and feelings during an interaction. As such, it involves the demonstration of empathy, compassion, care, and acceptance towards both individual and societal problems in tangible ways. Therefore, as was with the relationship between the Recognize and Understand plots, Express is related to Manage in a similar fashion. What is that similarity? As people effectively Manage their TIME they become better equipped to Express their TIME (Larrier, 2017). What is more, through the development of social awareness, one acquires the competence to evaluate their TIME from another person’s perspective which engenders empathy, and empathy is foundational to the implementation and practice of DEI.
Specifically, this plot invites one to consciously and critically evaluate their thoughts, interactions, mindsets and emotions. As such, they can embody the assertion by Gurchiek (2017) that differences are value-neutral. As people move along the continuum of self-management to social awareness, their focus and engagement evolves which helps to ensure a sense of value neutrality and community building. When this is considered within the context of DEI, it is possible to avoid the pitfall outlined by Bailey (2014) that diversity and inclusion initiatives fail because they do not address the individual-level variables to create an enabling culture. Consequently, by embedding DEI at the individual level, one is empowered to say and project the thoughts, interactions, mindsets and emotions that bridge the undeniable differences which promote connection and community.
Social emotional wellness is in part a journey that begins with self-awareness. Continuing on this journey, an individual needs to dig deeper into their TIME to ensure and promote DEI at the communal level. This is attained through pursuing self management and relationship management skills through the effective and efficient managing and expressing of one’s TIME. Therefore, one becomes empowered to promote DEI by not only being aware of their own biases but also becoming disruptors to the status quo. The key antecedents of community and connection for present-day diverse families, communities, societies and institutions are grounded in the application of social emotional wellness to DEI practices.
ReferencesBailey, S. (2014, May 21). Inclusion Begins With Understanding The Self. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastianbailey/2014/05/21/inclusion-begins-with-understanding-the-self/?sh=6c2ef248442f
GC Scored, Inc. (Director). (2021). EXPRESS: Expressing Your TIME and Your Social-Emotional Wellness [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8gKZK-XCVQ&ab_channel=GCSCORED%2CInc.
GC Scored, Inc. (Director). (2021). MANAGE: Managing Your TIME and Social-Emotional Wellness #2 [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyHfyWQQXKM&ab_channel=GCSCORED%2CInc.
Gurchiek, K. (2017, January 31). Embracing Diversity Starts with Self-Awareness, D&I Expert Says. Retrieved from SHRM: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/embracing-diversity-starts-with-self-awareness,-di-expert-says.aspx
Morgan, N. (2015, September 1). We Humans Are Social Beings – And Why That Matters For Speakers and Leaders. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2015/09/01/we-humans-are-social-beings-and-why-that-matters-for-speakers-and-leaders/?sh=19cd39356abd
Saska, S. (n.d.). How to define diversity, equity, and inclusion at work. Retrieved from Culture Amp: https://www.cultureamp.com/blog/how-to-define-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-at-work/#top-banner
By: Yvonne Murray-Larrier, PhD, LPC, NCC, NCSC, EAS-C
Founding President of GCSCORED, Inc.