To what extent is minority status a state of mind? Before we get into this discussion, I’m sure that some readers may think it unconscionable for a gray-haired, white male to discuss minority status. The assumption being that I’ve never been in the minority. Is that true?
The reality is that each and every one of us has, at times, been in the minority. We’ve been in groups that don’t share our beliefs…religious, political, child-rearing, on and on and on.
We’ve been opposed to the strategy our company employs, its treatment of its workers, the quality of its offerings. We may even have had an exciting idea and couldn’t find anyone in power to share our enthusiasm.
Even as kids, we felt left out…not part of the “in crowd.” We believed that the discomfort we felt was unique to us…that other kids didn’t share these same concerns. Even those in the “in crowd” were often anxious about their ability to retain their status.
I’m not denying that bias exists. We are reminded of it every day in “news” reports. We see people being victimized based on gender, religious beliefs, ethnicity, political affiliation and in countless other ways. The result is that they feel that they are in the minority. Indeed, I recall my parents wondering “Who is going to look out for the little guy?” while they were living the lifestyle of their choosing.
Even though I’m an optimist by nature, I don’t foresee a day when bias doesn’t exist. Indeed, It’s part of human nature and, consequently, will always be a part of the human condition. The question then becomes “What do we do about it?”
The simple answer is that we help people become more confident.
Confidence supplants minority mindset
Confident people are far less biased than less-confident people. That’s because they are less judgmental. They don’t see other people, or situations, as being good or bad, right or wrong.
They see others’ perspectives as learning opportunities…as a way to gain new information. Similarly, they see unfamiliar situation, regardless of how challenging, as simply something to be dealt with.
This mindset, this outlook on life, means that confident people see others as peers who are fellow human beings deserving of respect and rich, fulfilling lives. Consequently, there are no judgments communicated by confident people, either implicitly or explicitly. They do not view the other person (people) as minorities nor do they make them feel that they are in a minority.
Similarly, confident people never feel that they are in the minority…even when in a group that shares dramatically different perspectives. Again, they view the disparity of perspectives as learning opportunities…as a way of learning something that may aid them in the future. If the group is overlooking something essential to the decision being considered, what the confident person learns may help the group avoid unintended consequences. Either way, confident people are learning and employing something useful.
Building confidence in others
Confident people also enjoy, and are adept at, helping others become more confident. One of the byproducts of their efforts is that as others become more confident, they become less judgmental (less biased). Consequently, they develop the same mindset that their unintentional mentor possesses…that others are peers deserving respect and a rich, fulfilling lives. These increasingly-confident people also never feel that they are in the minority.
Don’t forget that you are already confident; just more so in some situation than others. Allow your confidence to shine in the form of being nonjudgmental. Judgment is an emotional reaction that we all experience, but the highly-confident among us recognize that we’re judging and quickly set aside the judgment in favor of a more objective, well-reasoned analysis.
You’ll find that your mind is more effective in analyzing situations because you’ve set aside the emotions causing judgment. Consequently, you find solutions that serve all parties well and you’ll do so while being respectful of others’ needs. In doing so, you’ll also help them become more confident in their dealings with others.
From time to time you’ll find others asking you how you manage to find solutions that are so simple and yet so effective. This is an opportunity for you to teach them what you’ve learned about suspending judgment and the bias that it engenders. In doing so, you’ll add to the cadre of confident people who are sharing the benefits of non-judgment…a message that they’ll spread to others.
For our kids
The best way to help your kids gain confidence is to live it. Kids trust our actions more than our words. As questions of minority arise, whether in “news” reports or comments heard in the course of everyday conversation. Help you kids understand that confident people neither view others as minorities, nor do they feel that they are in the minority.
Help kids understand that the less confident among us are biased primarily because they lack confidence in some element of their lives. Show compassion for folks who haven’t discovered the benefits of being nonjudgmental. This mindset will help kids quickly set aside emotional reactions that are likely to exacerbate a dangerous situation while at the same time enabling them to retain their dignity. Often unemotional reactions defuse the situation…a person who is raging finds it difficult to sustain their rage in the face of a calm, well-reasoned response.
Fear and frustration will always be felt by those who view themselves in the minority. Confident people avoid these effects knowing that they are never in the minority.
Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.
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