Talking About Differences

Arin N. Reeves
May 2016

Over the past few years, we have been hearing varying narratives on whether people feel that it has become easier or harder to talk about differences in the workplace today. Given that the foundation of creating inclusive workplaces is the ability to talk about differences, we ran a quick “temperature check” survey in February – March of 2016 to capture people’s general perceptions of how it feels to talk about differences today, in comparison to how it felt 10 years ago in 2006. It’s important to note that we did not design this “pulse survey” to assess whether it was actually easier or harder for people to talk about differences in their workplace(s) but whether people felt that it was easier or harder to talk about differences in their workplace(s). Because talking about differences is a necessary precursor to interacting, working and leading across differences, we want to assist workplaces in increasing comfort around and action towards this type of dialogue.

Think Smarter. Lead Better.

  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity.They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • One must even beware of too much certainty that the answer to life's problems can only be found in one way and that all must agree to search for light in the same way and cannot find it in any other way.

    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Differences challenge assumptions.

    Anne Wilson Schaef
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

    Walter Lippmann
  • The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship.

    Deborah Tannen
  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

    Albert Einstein
  • It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.

    Albert Einstein
  • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

    Charles Evan Hughes
  • Diversity creates dimension in the world.

    Elizabeth Ann Lawless
  • To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

    Tony Robbins
  • Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.

    Isaac Asimov
  • Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

    Thomas Jefferson
  • There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.

    Michel de Montaigne
  • Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.

    Madame De Stael
  • Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.

    James Surowiecki
  • Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

    Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.

    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.

    Leo Tolstoy
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

    Audre Lorde
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.

    Woodrow Wilson
  • America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.

    Louis D. Brandeis
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

    Mahatma Gandhi
  • Controversial' as we all know, is often a euphemism for 'interesting and intelligent.

    Kevin Smith
  • Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

    Malcolm Forbes