Why The Workplace Shouldn’t Be A Thought Safe Zone
There is a (semi-)unwritten rule in many workplaces that you will hear people mention.
“Don’t talk politics, and don’t talk religion.”
It’s ironic that in an age that we strive for diversity and inclusion, we choose to exclude others with different opinions and views than us. It’s not indicative of any one group of people, but a rather prevalent attitude that threatens to damage work cultures if we’re not aware of the trend.
People say that politics and religion are private matters, and that those opinions should be kept to one’s self. What is really being said is that we want to include diversity of people, up to a point. If we truly want to create dynamic workplaces then we must include the whole person, views and all.
If we choose to make our work thought safe zones we will undermine to things we have striven for for decades: free speech and diversity. The two go quite hand-in-hand. The heart of the matter is to create a culture whereby people feel encouraged to talk about those things they hold dear to themselves, and not have them feel threatened because someone has a strong opinion for or against something.
While this topic can go on at length on a variety of branches of rationale both logical and illogical, the point I’m making here is let’s not be hypocritical in building great organizations by letting our prejudices interfere with someone who may otherwise have a great deal to offer.
Some of the best working and long-term relationships I have are with people who were polar opposites of my beliefs, but we dedicated ourselves to the common cause of the organization we worked for. While we disagreed at most things aside from work, we at least could understand the other person’s viewpoint and could make better work decisions from this valuable knowledge.
It may not be easy at times. Mostly, it will be a setting aside of self and being truly capable to empathize with the other person in order to truly see what they see. Not necessarily to the point of agreement – although that may occur – but to Steve Covey’s first point of “Seek First To Understand”.
Safe zones shouldn’t have to be bubbles. They can be the working world we choose to live in. We may even find ourselves grow stronger because of it.