It’s so appropriate that I’m writing this article for you on a trip to Singapore. It is such a culturally diverse country, with influences from all over Asia – Malaysia, China, India, Singapore itself as well as the UK, Australia and the US as well as all the other people who live and work here from all over the world….and yet it works!
You see it’s all about appreciating that we are all different even those of us from the same cultural background. Understanding that no one person has had the same experiences, so how can we possibly know what anyone else sees, hears and feels?
This last point was driven home to me ten years ago when my father lay dying and his 3 girls – of which I was one – and his wife sat at his bedside going through our own separate emotions. As he drew his last breath we all reacted differently, which was a shock to me as we shared the same dad, so doesn’t that mean the same emotions?
Yes the main big ones of sadness and loss but even these we experience to different degrees due to our very own personal experiences. What I hadn’t appreciated was that we all had very different experiences, even if they had been shared; we are all very different human beings.
We can never fully or truly understanding what anyone feels or is going through, as we have not lived their life experiences. We can however empathise with them based on our own experiences, as long as we respectfully accept that we don’t actually know what they see, hear or feel.
When we talk about Diversity we usually refer to; variety, mixture, range or assortment. In a people context it’s about differences in;
- Skin, hair, eye colour
- Body, faces and limb size
- Language, cultural and religious varieties
- Skills, learning and belief mixtures
- Age, gender and sexual orientation
This is not an exhaustive list just a number of things that conjure up in our minds when we think about the word diversity in human terms.
Miscommunication has been studied and shown to be the main issue in most workplace and social interactions, which is due to the point made above; where no two individuals ever experience events in exactly the same way.
When was the last time someone said to you – or you said to someone else – “I know how you feel, I had that happen to me …….” It should be all about the other person not about us. They usually just want to talk…..let them. Listening is the key to any great communication.
With that in mind: how do we then Celebrate Diversity?
Celebration is all about being joyous and festive. Diversity is about differences and variety.
The answer is very easy – Enjoy and have fun learning about everyone we meet and have interactions with, rather than it being a competition about who knows best or the most.
When we listen and learn we are able to empathise much more effectively and others receive great benefit. We in turn receive new perspectives and learning as well as a deep joyous feeling….what more could you ask for?
That’s what’s so great about Celebrating Diversity!