X is for Xenophilia

As I’ve been searching for a word beginning with X for my alphabet series, I’ve come across a new word and it describes me!  Xenophilic – a person fascinated with cultures; they love travelling and embracing other cultures.  This is me in both my personal and professional life.  When I travel I absorb myself in the local culture and love to find out what makes it rock and roll.  Whether I’m on holiday or I’m working with an organisation, the culture is my fascination. I’m obsessed with everything that makes the difference, or not as the case may be!

When I facilitate a culture change programme, I often use this Stephen Covey quote – ‘strength lies in differences, not in similarities’.   Too many organisations stifle the lone voice.  They go with the group think and miss out on the what ‘could be’.  Creating an inclusive culture can help us see the same issues from so many different perspectives and therefore get better results.  It’s all about creating an environment where people feel able to raise their heads above the parapet to get their voice heard without fear of some kind or retribution.  Something that is so crucially important to help us continually develop, learn from earlier mistakes, get rid of bad behaviour and become better at understanding one another.

I’ve always prided myself in being an inclusive person.  Yet recently I attended a fab SofF Community Pod with Diversity Dana.  She was amazing in the way she made us think about Diversity and Inclusion and asked us all to think of a time when we felt we really belonged and then a time when we felt really excluded.  What was it that made us feel that way?  We then overlay it with things we did in our own work in preparing and facilitating sessions.

I have to say it was a very profound hour for me.   It made me realise some of the shocking errors I have made without even realising it.  What a wake up call and I’ve been thinking about it ever since!  Such school girl errors that have probably excluded people at a time when I was trying to bring them together as a community.  I don’t know whether you’ve listened to the Brene Brown podcast with Ibram X Kendi, (another WOW), but all I could think in that moment was I need to hold myself accountable for my mistakes but shame isn’t going to be helpful.  So since then, I’ve been reviewing lots of my materials, references, music, imagery and language, but I thought I’d also like to get you thinking about diversity and inclusion too.

So here’s my question for today.  If cultures are made up of individuals, in our personal and professional lives, how are you making people feel welcome in your world?

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