It is a time of great sorrow, rage, hope and many other emotions around systemic racism and police brutality. Our country and its institutions are engaged in a time of protest and counter-protest. All too often, it seems that polarized sides on issues of race are not listening to one another. So how do teams and organizations move forward, given the intensity of issues around race, equity and justice?

Many are calling for an increase in dialogue around race.  This cannot be a fruitful endeavor unless people commit to being open to listening and learning from others. For true dialogue to happen, we must lean into curiosity, even when certainty seems to rule the day. Curiosity requires that we suspend judgement and accept the reality that we do not already know the “truth.” Curiosity means we recognize that we do not truly understand the lives of others as well as we think we do.

Great Place to Work published a great article on how to have conversations about race in the workplace. Their guidance about being intentional, creating a safe space, etc. are spot on. Do not miss reading this article if you choose to engage your teammates in a topic that is laden with emotion. If you are at all worried about how the conversation will go, you may want to engage a facilitator who is experienced in guiding these types of dialogues. (I have facilitated these types of discussions with a co-facilitator of color since the 1990s.)

As you discuss issues of race, it is very likely that some participants will hear things that they find to be untrue. Encourage everyone to pause and consider that what these “untruths” merely reflect is their own lack of experience or understanding. Ask that people approach these startling revelations with questions, like “What would it mean for me if that were really true?” and “What if the world were not the same for others as it is for me?”

Curiosity may have killed the cat (we hope not!). And curiosity is a super power when it comes to listening to and understanding each other.

Have an experience with deep listening through curiosity? Comment below or message us.


Photo by Christina Morillo