Bridging Differences Through Dialog Project

Culture & Crisis

Changing the Workplace (and the World) One Conversation at a Time!

We seem more divided today than ever before. Most people are afraid to approach divisive topics for fear of damaging a relationship or embarrassing themselves. We only consider what could go wrong with a conversation versus what could go right. So we don’t try, allowing assumptions, biases and stereotypes to fester. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I lived in South Africa from 1996 to 1998 – two years after the end of apartheid. I experienced a country transition from a deeply divided apartheid state to a unified democracy. Much of this was made possible through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, founded in the belief that truth was the only means by which South Africa could come to a shared understanding of their past in order to forge a new identity in the future. Across the country, victims of crimes and perpetrators of crimes under apartheid came forward to share their stories in the spirit of seeking understanding and healing. Stories were aired on TV every Sunday, which sparked a spirit of listening, learning and relationship-building. I saw before my eyes how intentional effort to uncover and understand the human experience common among all of us beyond race, culture and political affiliation healed a nation.

With that experience in mind, I am making a conscious effort to never walk away from the opportunity to find common ground through conversation even when it seems impossible. So far, I have not regretted any of my attempts and am amazed at how a single conversation can replace biases and assumptions with empathy and understanding. And the good news is, I’m not alone. I’m having more conversations with people about having conversations with people lately! If we keep it up, I think we can make the workplace (and the world) a whole lot better…one conversation at a time!

View inspiring interviews with people who are leaning into challenging conversations over a host of sensitive topics – race, politics, religion and more. And download my Bridging Differences Through Dialog Playbook for tips to help you have productive conversations about differences.

If you are inspired to bridge differences through dialog or have your own story to share, join in!

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