Diversity Tips

A simple change in mindset or attitude can make all the difference. Approach generational differences with interest, not fear or negativity. Take interest in the interests of others. You can learn fascinating things about other people if you choose to do so.


Top 10 Tips for Speakers

  • Use simple language. The typical person in the United States reads at a fourth-sixth grade level.
  • Supplement adjectives you use with descriptions of physical (or personality) characteristics which describe what you mean. Using phrases like “All American boy” or “good worker” leave too much to the interpretation of the listener.
  • Use cross-cultural examples. If you tell four stories, be sure at least two of them reflect a culture or group different from your own.
  • Screen your examples for words or situations which are unintentional offenders based on class or education.
  • Use visual and tactile aids. Relying on words alone to tell your story is dangerous.
  • Review your references to religion and/or faith. It is often acceptable to describe how your faith or religious beliefs impacted you, however, you risk losing your audience when you recommend or imply that the specific practice or faith which has worked for you is the answer for everyone in your audience. In addition, it is never appropriate to make negative statements about any religion or faith practice to which you don’t subscribe.
  • Watch for words with multiple meanings.
  • Request feedback on both content and delivery. Specifically solicit comments on your ability to communicate across cultural boundaries.
  • Study generational differences. Balance your examples and stories against your research.
  • Learn about the group’s demographics and the group’s interpersonal dynamics. Do your homework in advance. Adjust your style to create comfort, without releasing your position of authority as seminar leader or keynote speaker.  

Top 10 Tips for Managers 

  • Examine your own biases.
  • Involve employees in decisions.
  • Explain the organization’s commitment to diversity in positive terms.
  • Be willing to learn.
  • Communicate your goals related for diversity.
  • Ask for help.
  • Be flexible.
  • Reward employees who take risks.
  • Focus on equity, not impartiality.
  • Find a mentor.

Behavioral Strategies

  • Be flexible as to the means of your communication (face-to-face, email, etc.).
  • Avoid generational jargon. Speak in plain terms and avoid expressions that are not widely understood.
  • Be attentive. Look for signs that you may be misunderstanding each other, whether it is a confused look, an unclear response, or an unintended reaction.
  • Practice active listening. Turn up your listening dial across generational differences. Listen for clear expressions of different values or outlooks than you have. Seek to understand the individual better by listening carefully to what they say (or don't say).
  • Show Respect. Most generations have felt they don't get the respect they deserve. Using the strategies above, you can show coworkers that you do respect them, their background, and their outlook on life--and build powerful relationships as a result.