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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, dancing and good movies.  

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Monday, July 3, 2017

The visceral difference between "understanding" what diversity is and experiencing on your skin how does diversity actually "feel"

How would you feel if everybody but you would be invited to a party, in front of you?
More than once?
By many different people?
Without them being worried at all about the gesture and the possible implications, both for you and for them?

What would you think about the emotional intelligence of those people, or their social awareness, or their soft skills, or their empathy?
Probably, not so much.

Would you have the impression that they understand how does it feel to be in your position?
Not really.

How does it feel to be forced to notice that you are not one of the cool kids?
How does it feel to be treated in front of everybody else like you are different?
How does it feel to be remembered that you don't belong?
How does it feel to be showed that you are not part of the group?
How does it feel to experience that you just don't fit in?

[There's a party and you are invited!
No, wait... you are not]

No matter for whatever reason, you have been excluded. 
And your exclusion has been stated and confirmed, in front of everybody else.
Like if it were absolutely normal. 

Depending on your emotional attachment to those people and your level of self-confidence, you could find the scenario either embarrassing, or tricky or plainly awkward. Or just... annoying.
For most people, it is still a stressful situation. Even if they would maybe not be that interested to go to the party anyway.

The feeling of being apart, of being seen as different, of not being accepted for who one is, is disheartening and for most people absolutely poisonous for their self-worth and self-acceptance.

As a consultant for intercultural communication and diversity management, I got asked almost every day what diversity is all about and how is it possible, besides of political correctness and some well-intended manifesto published online by big and not so diverse corporations, to truly understand how diversity works.

Diversity is not something one can understand.
Diversity is something that one has to feel first.
If you don't feel it, you can't understand it.

If you have no clue how does it feel to be the one not invited to the party in front of everybody else like if this would be no biggie, you can't really understand diversity.
Without having been for some reason and in some circumstances, it doesn't matter if every day or for a short period of time or just in one aspect of your life, "the other", the one that is different, the one that doesn't fit it, the one that is left aside, you can't really understand how it is to be a minority.

You can be empathetic, you can decide to be supportive, you can decide to fight for more diversity anyway, but please don't come out with statements like "I know how it feels".
Well, you probably don't. And it is OK, as long as you don't pretend that you can.

Tags: Diversity, Emotional intelligence, Self-awareness, Being excluded

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