Stop Being Afraid At Work, It Is Not Your Only Option! February 8, 2017 by Sonia Johnson You are probably totally disengaged from your job, if you do not recognize the concern and undercurrent fear or concern of certain folks in the workplace. Human Resources Departments that have not conducted a culture and health check survey of employees in the light of new Legislation and the Social Media rumor mill, are close to committing professional malpractice in terms of their expected obligations to their employers and employees. Collection and review of cultural, performance and other related analytics, in times of internal and external change remains a mandatory practice, for effective Human Resources and Organizational Business success. The news media is replete with the usual sensationalism and hysteria. However, the underlying mood in many organizations has changed. And although the change is not immediately evident to some; the use of surveys and other methods of evidence analysis and related statistical review, will enable your organization to effectively prevent the permanent injection of this damage into the foundation of your workplace. A colleague with whom I have a great working relationship, a woman, recently wanted to know how I had made my way out of my family generational financial difficulties?? In addition, she also asked me about a litany of stereotypical assumptions, rife in some repeated sensational news cycles, about minorities of color. She assumed they applied in general, and specifically to me. She told me she thought that the wretched background sprinkled with a few successes, was the truth about most minority groups. We both laughed about it, after we discussed her untested assumptions and researched various verified statistical data, and robust evidence on the issue. She is a very kind and well-meaning colleague, but did not recognize how some repeated falsehoods from media outlets, and other untested generalizations, had crept into her implicit thought process. As we talked, I told her that both my parents are Lawyers. My grandparents were educated and very financially stable. Even further back than my grandparents, my family possesses a record of consistent and muscular education, hard work and documented financial success. My friends and I, many people of color, and large swaths of other minorities have such backgrounds. Interestingly, the lady who asked this question, with whose permission I am sharing her remark, is the first and only person to have graduated college in her family, to date. She was the one who needed accolades for struggling out of generational poverty. I celebrated her grit and determination for making her way out of rural and damaging poverty. She was appreciative of the recognition I gave her for her success. Based on our open and honest discussion, we continue to have a great and even closer working relationship. I am grateful that she permitted me to share our exchange on this topic, in this article. Thank you, L., I am sharing this experience to encourage employees to stop being hyper-vigilant and hypersensitive about the misconceptions of well-meaning people. The workplace is a microcosm of the real world. If someone has a misconception about you, don’t judge them, just correct it. Do not immediately label such a person as unthinking or ignorant, or run away in fear because you feel they are out to “get” you. If you do so, you are just as culpable in the whole implicit bias bonanza, and are a part of the problem. Instead, have an open dialogue about such matters. Consider each human as a person not as a group statistic. On another note– if you encounter malevolent and cowards and bullies, who attack you based on whatever distinguishing characteristics they perceive you possess, do NOT engage them. Their remarks are an index of their own inadequacies, as any seasoned Clinical Psychologist, and extensive research on the issue would affirm. On Social Media or elsewhere, use your energy to spread a positive and uplifting message about EVERYONE. Ignore the bullies, and refuse to be a target of the lack of self-worth, which many of them do not know they possess. It is worth noting, that we have seen a documented spike in the number of complaints received by many organizations, about harassment of Muslims at work. It is the job of organizations to be vigilant and ensure such behaviors are not tolerated. Most dynamic companies have notified their employees that anti-Muslim rhetoric and discriminatory behavior will not be tolerated. All organizations should do the same. It is not a remotely financially beneficial practice to discriminate against anyone based on religion (or anything else). Such anti-religion discrimination reminders, also limit the probability of legal action on religious and other discrimination against any organization. It is also a helpful reminder to all employees, that as humans we should do the right thing to others, always. Make your fear constructive, and use it to propel yourself forward in your life. Please buy and read these books that I frequently recommend for self growth and professional success: “Fear” by J. Ibeh Agbanyim and “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. The information in these two books will help most people develop a better sense of self, and provide guidance and sustained confidence on how to navigate their lives positively, both personally and professionally. Do your part, and get additional knowledge on how to thrive. Eleanor Roosevelt stated: “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” Live happy!