Respecting Differences is a Lesson We Can Still Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered an integral figure in the American Civil Rights movement who was tragically killed by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968. In 1963 he delivered what later became his most famous speech, I Have a Dream. In his speech he implored that citizens of all races enjoy equal rights in America. We have made strides since then, but respecting differences is a lesson we can still learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.

We’re More Global
Thanks to technology and the relative ease of travel, we are more mobile than ever. No longer do we need to stay in our home towns to seek our happiness and fortunes. With that, people from all different backgrounds can find themselves living and working together. Unfortunately, this can cause conflict and gone unchecked can create toxic environments. Respecting the differences in people can go a long way to a peaceful coexistence in the workplace and in the world.

Avoiding Groupthink
The term was coined in 1972 by Psychologist Irving Janus. This happens when too many like minded people disallow contrary voices in matters of decision making and action taking. Trying to get “everyone on the same page” sounds good, but in a professional setting, this can be fatal to a business. People may be pressured to endorse a plan without considering the consequences or alternative plans that may work better. Respecting the differences and allowing for other opinions to be heard can result in business strategies that help the entire organization.

Empowering People
Organizations who employ different types of people can draw on a larger number of strengths. When differences are respected, people feel more comfortable sharing ideas to work toward a common goal.  This doesn’t mean all ideas are equally good, but the ability to discuss different ones irrespective of who came up with them, fosters more positive relations amongst staff, which in the long run, is better for any organization.

So,  if you’re lucky to have a day off, don’t just go to the mall to capitalize on sales, think about how you can play a part in respecting differences on #MLKDay.

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