Diversity Conversations: Finding Common Ground
Book written by Eric M. Ellis, M.A.
This is a deceptively small book, while only one-hundred and fifty-nine pages in length it simply can’t be read fast. The words within require a substantial amount of thoughtful pondering. It caused me to recall ferocious arguments between my harshly race and politically divided parents that raged way back in the 60’s and 70’s. It hit some extraordinarily sensitive spots. With the interjection of the Johari Window as a tool for determining a wider spectrum of review one must beyond superficial personal evaluations and look dreadfully deep. Not always comfortable.
I loved the chapter on “Professional Diversity Polarizers.” I must confess that I adore many of the political humorists that make up this category and follow their commentaries with religious zeal. I also must confess to loving to hate various pundits of the opposition and they spark within me a level of ardor that I rarely experience. The text does a great job of illustrating that these “PDP’s” come at a high price and frequently impede forward progress all the while lining their pockets. Fairness, honesty, and clarity are often lost in the angry haze of nurtured polarity.
Mr. Ellis provides an elegant vocabulary and strategy for addressing these matters in chapters such as “Conversation with Ourselves, Conversations with Like Others, and Conversations with Diverse Others.” We just don’t normally think about most of these issues with these type lenses. Additional aspects cover “Regular Self-Analysis, Process for Feedback, Personal Feedback Coaches, and developing Intellectual Curiosity.” Overall Mr. Ellis challenges everyone to become “Diversity Critical Thinker.” He acknowledges that this is not probably on the top a priority center screen for many and handles that as well. See “Principles of the Junk Yard Dog” on page 124.
In an era of mounting polarity and a time when any “common ground” negotiation is seen as “caving” or “weakness” reading between the lines “Diversity Conversations” should also be hailed as a cautionary tale of what could happen if society doesn’t strive to hold on to progress made over recent decades. Social and civil tensions are on the rise. Increased crime and a society plagued by addictions grow as threats from within. Both the Tea Party and Occupy Movement bring both menacing anger and passive-aggressive behavior to their “conversations.” Words and weapons are prolific and the long-term costs could be very high. We should all be working together.
And back to that Johari Window, my own could use a good cleaning.
“This is an honest book, loaded with learnings and insights expressed in real-world terms. It will be a rare reader who leaves this book without being more aware of his or her own beliefs and better able to appreciate those of others and, as a result, being able to live a more satisfying life.” – John E. Pepper retired Chairman and CEO of The Procter & Gamble Co. and Retired Chairman of The Walt Disney Company