Diversity, Tolerance, and Respect in the Workplace

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Respect Diversity: Tolerance and What You Should Know in 2016!

The Attitude of Tolerance

Is tolerance just prejudice in its best dress clothes?

When tolerance exists in society, this typically involves ‘people’ co-existing in some form with ‘others’. These ‘others’ are different than the aforementioned ‘people’ and who they may typically agree with or like.  These ‘others’ could be different in their choices, behaviours, values,  and/or beliefs. The success of the attitude of tolerance, and thus the co-existence, is really dependent on which side is chosen. Tolerance can be fuelled by either an attitude of judgment on the one side, or an attitude of respect, on the opposite side.

Tolerance, coming from an attitude of judgment, is where we tolerate others being different through the spirit of permission, leniency, or allowance for their freedom to live differently.  From this perspective of tolerance, our preference is probably that we wish the person would be more like us, as we may have some negativity towards their ‘differences’, particularly their choices, behaviours, values, and beliefs.  At some conscious or subconscious level, this tolerance from an attitude of judgment is grounded in our mental position of being ‘more’ right in our own choices, behaviours, values, and beliefs, and the other person being ‘more’ wrong. This also can impose a value on the other person as being ‘less than’ because of their differences.  Tolerance from an attitude of judgment typically decreases our willingness to engage.

Tolerance coming from an attitude of respect is where we tolerate others being different through the spirit of recognition, appreciation, and acceptance for their freedom to live differently.  From this perspective of tolerance, our preference is that we wish the person to be themselves, and not us, as we have positivity towards ‘differences’ in general. At a conscious or subconscious level, this tolerance from an attitude of respect is grounded in a mental position that there isn’t a more ‘right’ choice, behaviour, value, or belief.  This supports a value of an equality of differences. Tolerance from an attitude of respect typically increases our willingness to engage.

The willingness to engage with others who are different from us is what fundamentally separates tolerance coming from an attitude of judgment versus respect. This willingness to engage, will impact the success of the coexistence of people which is the key influencer to tolerance in the first place. We each have a choice in how successful our coexistence will be in families, communities, teams, and organizations.

When it comes to tolerance, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we just playing dress-up?”

Check out our new online course “Human Rights at Work” –  Respectful Workplace Training for the Awareness and Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination!