When you think about freedom, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s the ability to make your own decisions about how to live your life, free from needing to seek permission for basic rights. Maybe it’s having the right to vote. Maybe it’s the freedom to choose your career path. When I think about freedom, I think about those things, too. I also think about how freedom applies to everyone. Because it doesn’t.
We’ve lost ground.
As an individual person, you might feel like you have plenty of freedom. But what about as a collective society? Things get trickier when you take a closer look at how everyone is affected by the laws that govern our nation. Women have lost a lot of bodily autonomy in the past year. The LGBTQ+ community has been deeply affected by laws in several states.
But what’s more impactful on peace of mind than the laws are the attitudes and behavior of those around us. And that’s why this is not a post about politics. It’s a reflection on who makes up our workplaces and how we treat everyone.
We’re not there yet.
Assumptions in the form of projections continue to hurt our workplace relationships. We allow fear of what we don’t understand to guide our thoughts, words, and actions. With DEI having been a “focus” in so many companies for the past couple of years especially, why aren’t we further ahead? I hear from my Black counterparts about the thoughtless things people say to them. When they try to engage in a conversation about the thoughtless remark, the go-to response is defensiveness, back pedaling, and gas lighting. Not cool.
What does this have to do with work?
Everything. We carry our assumptions and projections about other groups of people into our workplaces with us. They interfere with our ability to be fully open to others and to engage with them with curiosity, courage, and a lack of judgment. But the good news is that we can change all of that. Rather than giving into fears and assumptions, try having a conversation. One where you lead with your curiosity and invite an exchange of ideas. When you catch yourself assuming something, ask a question to clarify your assumption instead. Living in a society where some people have more rights than others means we’re still not free. Think about how freedom applies to everyone around you. It might shift your perspective as your light your sparklers.