I found this TED Talk via Dr. Annette Clancy’s blog where she writes ‘most of the time we like to surround ourselves with people ‘like us’ thereby minimising difference in an attempt to avoid conflict. It takes a degree of self confidence and assurance to be able to sit in the middle of this kind of disagreement and to think constructively about it.’ For me, confidence underpins everything we do. It gives us the ability to work well, work collaboratively and to speak out, to challenge, to lead to greater things. The workplace is perhaps the most emotionally charged environment of all. Let the conversations begin.
A homogenous society doesn’t work for me
An article in today’s Irish Times about a couple from Kerala who have settled in Ireland touches on the difference between Integration and Assimilation and the importance of not losing one’s identity and culture. Somehow this resonates with me, as even though I am not Irish, I am not ‘noticeably different’. Irrespective of how long I have been in Ireland (and it is a very long time now), what I find is I don’t quite feel truly Irish and am often regarded as a ‘blow-in’ and yet I am no longer really a ‘Londoner.’ Yet, ask me where I am from and the answer of course is Dublin, for this is my home and I am an Irish citizen. I also am proud of my heritage which is an inherent part of who I am.
Stories are how we learn and quite possibly the most interesting way to get to know people. Everyone has a different story and there’s nothing I love more than to learn about different cultures and traditions from people whose upbringing and background is totally different to mine.
But from experience I know it is easy to under-estimate the challenge of moving countries, having to integrate into a new community and settle into a new job, which is why this story has stayed with me.
There is tremendous pressure on people when they first arrive to settle into a new country fast and to understand our culture almost telepathically it seems and yet, generally speaking (and I know one shouldn’t generalise however..), quite how anyone can be expected to read our minds baffles me and I’m constantly reminded of how quickly we judge people by our own ‘filtering’ system. We can be remarkably tolerant and yet intolerant almost in the same breath. Sometimes kind and often unintentionally unkind. And yet, it’s clear to me how remarkably similar we all are. So what’s my point? Quite simply..
as human beings, deep down we all want to be liked, accepted and respected.
For most of us, we just want to feel appreciated for who we are. Yes indeed, we live in a strange world and it does take all sorts.
A breakfast event organised by Much More Than Words – 18th January 2017.