Six reasons why we need a new concept of workplace diversity

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Diversity is one of those topics which is just ripe for a paradigm shift. Here’s why:

1. The current paradigm of diversity (in the Western world at least) is the result of the wars of religion in Europe which saw two centuries of bloodshed between Catholics and Protestants. The resulting agreement can be expressed in Voltaire’s dictum: ‘I do not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.’ Diversity was tolerated, but meaningful dialogue was discouraged because it could be intrusive and lead to conflict.

2. In the US, the discourse around workplace diversity got tangled up in the Civil Rights movement. As a result, much of the management literature focused on thinks like rights, racism, compliance with anti-discrimination legislation, and quotas. Understandably this provoked resistance and accusations of tokenism. Some thought leaders in this space, like Dr Roosevelt Thomas, are trying to take the diversity debate into a more positive space. Continue Reading »

What village do you come from?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Who are you?

Trust is increased when we know who we are dealing with. Telling stories of defining moments can be an effective part of a performance leadership strategy.

I was told by someone recently (in person) that she didn’t like to accept friend requests on social media from people she hadn’t met face to face.

I can understand that. It is a matter of trust. How can you trust someone you don’t know?

But how well do we know someone even when we’ve met them? On my first visit to Solomon Islands I met a tall blond American who had lived there for many years. He recounted going to a village where they had never seen white people before. The chief approached him, looked up at this exotic creature and asked “what village do you come from?”. “New York” came the reply. The chief looked thoughtful. “I’ve heard of that village” he said. Continue Reading »

Alan Jones: How can we disagree without being disagreeable?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

toxic behaviourLast weekend I spent some time writing to all the companies who advertise on Alan Jones’ 2GB Radio show. For non-Aussies, I should explain that Alan Jones is a Sydney based ‘shock jock’. A right-wing radio talk-show host. He doesn’t like our current Prime Minister. He has previously said that she should be placed in a chaff bag and dumped at sea. But the comment which sparked people like me into action was a reference to the Prime Minister’s father, John Gillard, who died recently. ‘The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame to think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament,’ Jones told a Sydney University Liberal Club dinner audience. As of today, I’m glad to note that several companies have pulled their sponsorship from the show, although the chances are that they will return once the noise has died down. Continue Reading »

Peace is not the absence of war: the limits of conflict transformation

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
US troops in Iraq

US troops in Iraq

My third contribution to the Peacebuilders Panel on TransConflict centres around Baruch Spinoza’s observation that Peace is not an absence of war.

The proposition we were asked to write about is this:

Conflict transformation goes beyond merely seeking to contain and manage conflict, instead seeking to transform the root causes themselves – or the perceptions of the root causes – of a particular conflict;

Here is what I wrote: Continue Reading »

A tale of two airlines – lessons for corporate ethics

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

airplaneWe all make mistakes – even the best of us. What sets us apart is how we respond to those mistakes. For companies and organisations, these are the situations when corporate ethics are put to the reality test.

A few weeks ago, United Airlines copped a lot of unwanted publicity for losing a ten-year old girl who was travelling, unaccompanied, from San Francisco to attend a summer camp near Traverse City with a change in Chicago. Her parents had paid a $99 “unaccompanied minor” surcharge and the girl had been told that she would be accompanied at all times at by someone wearing a United Airlines badge. However, in Chicago nobody showed up to accompany the girl, and as a result she missed her connection. Worse, her parents were not informed and only found out when the summer camp called them to say that she was not on the flight. Continue Reading »

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity – part 7. Gender differences

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

This is the seventh, and last (for now) in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences,  part 4 looked at the role of different values, part 5 looked at the role of personality differences and part 6 looked at at our different representational systems.

Last, but not least, as author John Gray has pointed out, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. This article looks at gender differences. Continue Reading »

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity – part 6 representational systems

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

This is the sixth in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences,  part 4 looked at the role of different values and part 5 looked at the role of personality differences.  This article looks briefly at representational systems.

For those who have studied a little about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) one of the first things you learn is about our different representational systems.

For each of us, our experience of the reality “out there” (as opposed to “inside our heads”) is filtered through our five senses – Visual, Auditory (sound), Kinesthetic (touch), Olfactory (smell) and Gustatory (taste). Continue Reading »

Understanding the Causes of Conflict in the workplace – ebook

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

I would like to offer you a free PDF ebook on Understanding the Causes of Conflict in the Workplace. This is one of the chapters of my forthcoming book Discover the Other – 4 keys for better relationships in the workplace

Often, people involved in a conflict are not aware of the root causes. And the incident which triggers the conflict is often not the real reason for it.

The ebook explains the four root causes of workplace conflict and what you can do to resolve the issues. It also includes a questionaire tool at the end which you can use to analyse any conflict.

This analysis is important, because the different causes of workplace conflict each require a slightly different response.

If you would like to download a copy, just fill in the form below.

Mike Lowe
Helping individuals and teams get into flow






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Understanding the Causes of Conflict in the Workplace

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Tonglen meditation as a tool for workplace conflict resolution

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Do you have some people you work with whom you dislike? Do you feel irritated, angry, anxious, nervous or bored around them? Do you find that their presence in your life is a source of conflict – either with you or with others?

If that is the case, then here’s a great tool for dealing with people  you find challenging – whether it is people you see daily or the occasional frustrating encounter with an aggressive motorist. It is called the tonglen meditation and it comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

If you are familiar with meditation, you might find some of this counterintuitive.  Like other Eastern practices, it involves becoming aware of your breathing, and taking slow deep breaths. You might find it easier to do the following with your eyes closed. Continue Reading »

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 5. Personality differences

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Personality typesThis is the fifth in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences, and part 4 looked at the role of different values. This article builds on the previous articles and looks at personality differences and some of the tools available for assessing personality.

The concept of different personality types has been studied for thousands of years . Many of the modern personality profiling systems have their roots in the Four Temperaments, as described by Hippocrates about 2400 years ago. These four temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, remained commonly used categorisations of personalities right up to the present time. The Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung used them as a basis for his own theories of personality which were then, in turn, picked up by others. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the DISC assessment both have their roots in Jung’s work on the psychology of personality. Both MBTI and DISC are often used in the business sector to help managers better understand the teams they are managing. Continue Reading »