It’s definitely not your mom and dad’s workplace anymore. As the world has enlarged and shrunk at the same time, your customers or clients may be down the street or halfway across the world. Your employees or associates may be from anywhere on this planet, each equipped with unique backgrounds and life experiences. Businesses which value that diversity and those individual contributions offer a healthier emotional and more productive work environment, leading to a better bottom line.
It all hinges on the simple yet critical practice of the art of tolerance. Our successful interaction as human beings relies heavily on the ability to connect with those we encounter every day, whether our co-workers or customers. It’s easy to say that we should be more tolerant of the people around us, but admittedly, it’s not all that easy at times.
However, we must remember that tolerance begins within each of us every day, every morning we wake up to face the world. As individuals, we decide if we’re going to tune in or tune out every one we meet. At the heart of all of our actions beats our ability to communicate what we hear and see and what others absorb from us. There is always a learning curve with every relationship we establish—that can be frustrating or it can be fun. It’s your choice.
No matter your role within the entrepreneurial or corporate structure, your personal effectiveness and productivity are directly tied to your communication skills and how you perceive others. By now, you’ve learned that everybody has his or her own style, but taking the time to understand those can help bring out the best in everyone, including yourself.
Stop to think. Do we shut down someone who makes a suggestion? Or do we encourage new and seasoned associates to contribute fresh ideas? Does the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way,” cross our lips often? Or do we ask for input on how we can constantly renew our business and be more competitive and profitable?
Do we stifle creativity and enthusiasm at a time when someone might offer the infusion of energy your organization desperately needs? Or do we take the time to learn about our colleagues’ life experiences that may shed light on new ways they can contribute to our daily business?
Tolerance can be challenging. It can also enrich your life.
Imagine that everyone was exactly alike in your workplace. They all have the same likes and dislikes, identical work habits and ideas. Sounds boring or even maddening, doesn’t it? Diversity makes for a more complete and productive work environment and society as a whole. Tolerance is good business.
Because I am so fascinated and intrigued by human connections at all levels, I’ve joined the committee sponsoring The Joys of Tolerance, a project born in Florida and being brought to Peoria from May 10 to June 10 by the Peoria Hebrew Day School. An exhibit at the WTVP Gallery by Anette Pier will examine through canvas how our human differences are essential to a complete society, which can be translated to the workplace.
The youth of our community have been invited to share their thoughts on the subject of tolerance through artwork and essays. The stories I’ve read so far reaffirm the fact that our grown-up offices and businesses are simply a reflection of the classrooms and playgrounds of our youth. Kids today feel the same as we did then—we dreaded being picked on by bullies, hated being left out of games and not invited to parties, and felt worthless when our thoughts, talents or ideas were rejected. It was all about tolerance yesterday, and it still is today.
Through The Joys of Tolerance, all of us—women, men and children—are encouraged to take a closer look at the topic of tolerance in our own lives, businesses and communities. Share your thoughts, experiences, hopes and frustrations with us online at www.peoriatolerance.org and participate in the numerous opportunities The Joys of Tolerance will bring to our community.
Yes, tolerance is very good business, and one of the best investments we can make in ourselves—because we want everyone to tolerate us, too. IBI