"Things Never to Say": Respecting Diversity

Last year Don Imus made big headlines for his racist comments about the Rutgers University women's b-ball team. Last month, Fox News took criticism for referring to Michelle Obama as "Obama's Baby Mama" and for calling the famous "fist bump" between the husband and wife as a "terrorist fist jab." And it's not uncommon for teen boys to call each other "fag" or say something along the lines of "That's so gay."

Plenty of people have found themselves in the unwelcome spotlight for exhibiting severe foot-in-mouth disease (or just plain racism); some have lost jobs. There are too many people who still think that discrimination and bigotry are their in-born right; others are just oblivious, insensitive, or just plain rude.

Recently, I discovered a section on DiversityInc magazine's site called Things Not to Say.

The brief articles outline "things never to say" -- primarily in an office setting -- to one's coworkers. List topics include LGBT, American Indian, Asian American, African American, and Latino coworkers, as well as people with disabilities (whether visible or not). There's even a list called "9 Things Never to Say to White Colleagues."

The lists provide a great source for discussion of issues such as diversity, language, perception, perspective, stereotypes, myths, and communication. And, they're a great reminder to all of us to pay attention to the power of words and to be sure that we're practicing compassionate communication.

~ Marsha
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