Sometimes, we make assumptions about people based on the way they look. Our assumptions may impact whether we feel safe or comfortable sitting next to somebody, even though we have no idea whether these assumptions are true. Next time you find yourself looking for a seat, consider sitting next to someone who looks different from you. If you feel comfortable and the situation is appropriate, strike up a conversation. You might realize that you have more in common than you think.
Have you ever justified using specific language (that might be offensive to some) because a friend told you it doesn’t bother them?
Even if a friend told you it doesn’t bother them, it’s best to avoid language that can be perceived as having biased undertones. There’s a chance the language could be offensive to another person and make them feel unwelcome and unsafe when you’re around. Additionally, even when it’s not our intention, biased language can also reinforce stereotypes and perpetuate disparities in our society, like making it harder for someone to find an apartment, secure a loan, or receive a fair trial.
Picture your three best friends. Do they look like you?
We often surround ourselves with people who look like us, because we assume they share our values. However, we may find that we share common interests, experiences, and values with others who look a little different than us. Next time you meet someone with a different background, get to know them on an individual level. You can use our Questions to Connect to start a conversation. You might find you have more in common than you think.
Have you ever joked around and told someone to "stop acting like a girl"?
Have you ever specified someone's race when it was not necessarily relevant (for instance, referring to someone as "a black doctor" or "Latina lawyer" or "white cashier")?
Even if it’s not our intention, using racial, ethnic or other identity label descriptions unnecessarily can be a form of hidden bias. When we use labels that aren’t necessarily relevant, we risk making those labels the most important part of someone’s identity, instead of just a part of who they are. If it’s not an important part of the story, we should avoid using identity labels.
Have you ever assumed a person’s stance on social issues based on their religion?
Have you ever ruled out certain neighborhoods as places you might live or send your kids to school based on the town’s demographics?
When choosing a place to live or send our kids to school, we often evaluate whether the people in a community look like us. This is because we assume that people who look like us will share our values. However, almost all families want the same thing – to feel relaxed, safe and loved at home. There is also great power in living in a diverse community. By engaging with families who look a bit different than your own, you’ll break down stereotypes, learn new things and have the ability to form lasting relationships.
Start a Conversation
Conversation has the power to reveal what we have in common — to break down bias and help us connect with people based on who we really are at heart instead of what others assume based on our appearance. Use these questions to get to know others at work, home, or wherever you might be.Questions to Connect