Improving Communication Within a Diverse Working Group
By Ricky Sherover-Marcuse
- Begin with the
assumption that all human beings are natural communicators,
and that we all desire warm, close relationships with each
- Assume that biological/cultural/ethnic/sexual/religious/age
differences between human beings are never the real cause
of difficulties in communication.
- Assume that the
real cause of such difficulties is the division and separation
resulting from institutionalized imbalances in social and
economic power, i.e. social oppression. The conditioning which
perpetuates the divisions between us separates us into target
and non-target groups.
- People who are
the target group of a particular form of mistreatment are
socialized to become victims; people who are the non-target
group of a particular form of mistreatment are socialized
to become perpetrators- either in a direct, active form or
in an indirect, passive form. Neither of these roles serves
our best interests as human beings.
- Assume that no
one wanted these roles; no one wanted these divisions. Everyone
resisted the social conditioning to take on these roles as
best they could. But the hurts from this conditioning cling
to us and make it difficult to see and hear each other clearly.
We make unaware assumptions about what other people are thinking
and feeling. We forget to check in with each other and to
- Assume that issues
of oppression always have some connection to difficulties
in communication. Assume that racism, sexism, job status,
etc. always figure in somewhere.
- Assume that target
group people are always the experts on their own experience
and that they have perspectives and information which non-target
people need to hear.
- Assume that when
everything is taken into account, every human being has always
communicated as clearly as they could, and in general has
always done the best that they could in every single situation.
9. Assume that in spite of the ways we have been divided,
it is possible to reach through those divisions, to listen
to each other well and to change habitual ways of acting which
have kept us separated.
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