The 8 Competencies of Diversity

January 6, 2009


As a performance consultant, I have had the pleasure of facilitating hundreds of training classes on a variety of diversity and multicultural communication topics.  I have also had the opportunity to participate as a student in numerous diversity education programs.  While these programs are quite interesting and informative, they typically share a common weakness.  The facilitators of these sessions usually have difficulty making the connection between diversity and organizational performance.  This is unfortunate because diversity is a very important consideration when it comes to enhancing performance in today’s organizations.  Just as there are specific skill sets when it comes to performing well as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant, teacher and truck driver, there are a specific set of competences that allow us to perform well in culturally diverse settings.  Without these skills and abilities, our chance of success greatly diminishes.  Specifically, the core diversity competencies include the following:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Diversity Knowledge
  3. Multicultural Communication
  4. Conflict Management
  5. Empowering Environments
  6. Professional Development
  7. Coaching and Mentoring (for managers)
  8. Recruitment and Selection (for managers)

In the coming weeks, I will describe each of these competencies in detail and I will provide you with specific tips, tools and resources you can use to enhance your performance in each competency area. 

NEXT POST – January 13, 2008

The 8 Competencies of Diversity: Self-Awareness

How to Communicate When Your Values are Different: Part 2

December 24, 2008


In my last post, I described three steps we can take to improve our interaction with people who have values different from our own: (1) focus on ‘business issues’ rather than ‘personal issues’; (2) clarify the value differences and (3) be empathetic and genuinely try to understand the other person.  Here are 2 additional steps that will improve your interactions:

1.  Be accepting of the other person.  Acceptance refers to a willingness to support and validate the other person, to have positive regard, and to remain non-judgmental, even in circumstances where you do not agree.  This is much easier said than done because we all have a tendency to judge others. And we often do so based on how much that person’s values are similar to our own. This is the essence of ethnocentrism.  The problem is, if you approach value differences in this way, you will be unsuccessful in addressing the issues you have with the other person.  It is imperative that you are willing to accept another individual’s right to be different. You don’t have to agree with the person’s way of thinking or doing things. Remember, acceptance does not mean agreement.  It means you accept the individual’s right to his or her own beliefs.

2.  Find some common ground between yourself and the other person.  A final step you can take to improve communication across value differences is to actively seek common ground between yourself and your speaking partner. We have a tendency to focus on our differences when more often than not, we have a great deal in common.  Identify those similarities and use this common ground to enhance and develop your professional relationship.  By connecting with the other person on this level, you will greatly increase your chances of effectively dealing with any value differences you may have.

NEXT POST – January 6, 2009

Have a Wonderful and Safe Holiday Season!!!

How to Communicate When Your Values are Different: Part 1

December 22, 2008


We’ve all had the experience of interacting with someone who has different values or beliefs. These differences can create communication problems, but there are several steps we can take to improve our relationships with people who have values different from our own.  Here are the first three:

1.  Focus on ‘business issues’ rather than ‘personal issues’. In my travels as a consultant, one of the most common causes of workplace conflict pertains to value differences. People have deeply held beliefs about a variety of topics and sometimes, are happy to share those beliefs. Of course, conflict can occur with those who have different belief systems. These conflicts can often be prevented if people focus on work issues and not issues of a more personal nature.  This is easier said than done because we bring who we are to our jobs. However, you can minimize conflict by limiting discussion of personal issues and by focusing your conversations on the business at hand.

2.  Clarify the value differences.  If the value differences you have with a colleague are having an impact on communication, clarify these differences and how they are affecting your interactions. In other words, be clear about how and why the value differences are creating problems. Come to a mutually satisfying agreement on how you will manage these differences by describing what each of you will do to improve the situation.

3.  Be empathetic and genuinely try to understand the other person.  When value differences arise, it is important that you make a sincere effort to understand where the other person is coming from.  Empathy can be described as stepping into another person’s shoes and experiencing the world from his or her perspective.  You don’t have to agree with the other person’s beliefs, but you should try to understand them (and help the person understand your beliefs as well).

NEXT POST – December 24, 2008

How to Communicate When Your Values are Different: Part 2


August 3, 2008


America is one of the most culturally diverse societies on earth.  Whether it is based on race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or physical ability, you are more likely than ever to find yourself in a culturally diverse organizational setting.  For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, African-Americans, Asian-Pacific Islanders and Hispanics currently make up one-third of the U.S. population.  By 2050, this number will exceed 50%.  In 2000, 12% of Americans were 65 or older.  By 2030, this number will exceed 20%.   There are over 380 different languages spoken in the U.S., and the fastest growing population groups in America consist of Asian-Pacific Americans and Hispanics over the age of 50.  Because of this increasing diversity, it is imperative that we develop skills that allow us to communicate, resolve conflict and solve problems in culturally diverse settings. 


Through this blog, I will provide you with specific tips, information, resources and tools that will allow you to function more effectively in culturally diverse settings.  I will be covering a wide variety of communication, conflict resolution and diversity topics including:

·    The Benefits of Diversity

·    The Effect of Communication on Performance

·    Reducing Bias

·    Creating a Climate for Diversity

·    Improving Team Communication

·    The Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication

·    Getting Your Message Across in Culturally Diverse Settings

·    Becoming a More Effective Listener

·    The Barriers to Successful Conflict Resolution

·    And Much More!


NEXT POST: August 7, 2008