If you are experiencing discrimination in any form, this course will help you to RISE to fight it.
We believe that it's you fundamental human right to expect that your inter-personal relationships should be be governed by four principles. They must be:
To make this easy to remember under pressure we call this the RISE technique.
If you sense that your relationships are lacking in one of these areas then you have grounds to RISE and confront the issue. We teach you a simple process for doing this without fear or anxiety.
We give some practical examples but also encourage you to share your concerns directly with us so that you receive support through what might seem to be a tough conversation.
This technique is proven to work and once you master it your self-esteem will soar and you will find it easier to handle any conflict scenario in a calm and assertive way.
We begin by outlining the overall process which begins with the memorable acronym RISE.
Your mind-set should be one that's ready to RISE to meet the issue and we will show you how to do that. We offer some helpful motivational quotes to get into the RISE spirit.
Believe that you are entitled to expect your inter-personal relations be conducted in a way that's Reasonable, Informed, Safe and Equitable - another way of saying it must be fair minded. If one element is missing then you have every reason to tackle the problem.
We then consider why everybody can and will drift in and out of being discriminatory and behave inappropriately. We share some recognisable examples from real life.
It's important to accept that we can all act from prejudice and we can all learn how to change the habit. Change is possible and the technique we teach shows how to achieve it. For things to change you have to change and that means learning how to RISE to tackle discrimination.
Then we lay out the steps to effect change and give insights into them:
1. Set up the time and place to talk in the RISE way.
2. State your commitment to the RISE principles.
3. Describe the facts of what you SEE, HEAR, FEEL and how it makes you want to ACT.
4. Get their story. Like a pancake - every story has two sides.
5. Examine the misinformation and the underlying fears and determine how you can restore a RISE relationship.
6. Agree a way ahead and measures to ensure you stay on track.
Discrimination - definition.
The unjust or prejudicial treatment of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
Synonyms: prejudice, bias, bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, unfairness, inequity, favouritism, one-sidedness, partisanship.
This is a legal sounding definition. In reality you can be discriminated against for the sound of your voice or your choice of clothing. It covers a wide range of things upon which others can hang their prejudices and fears.
A wider definition captures discrimination as the unreasonable and misinformed use of irrelevant considerations affecting the assessment of the ability of others to participate freely in communal activity which is unfair and unsafe.
In her book "From Contempt to Curiosity," Caitlin Walker gives some real life examples, which reveal the subtle forms prejudice takes and how we all sub-consciously fall prey to it.
The word contempt is well chosen because it captures the attitude our prejudicial views can bring out in us. Better to be curious about people and be surprised by the potential they hold.
It's also important to recognise that nobody is free from their own prejudices but that we all have the capacity to change them once we open our minds to new information.
Self-check for prejudice – we are all aware of them and believe others see them in us.
Ask yourself this question -
In her book from Contempt to Curiosity, answers to this question from people she spoke to include:
"I'm a Southerner. - (here meaning from the affluent south of England).
The prejudice people might hold is that "I'm posh." This implies being perceived as superior and patronising.
"They call me a Jock." (Slang for Scottish).
The stereotypical prejudice here being that Scots can be regarded by others as "tight-fisted" or ungenerous with money.
"I'm really big and people think I'm going to be dangerous."
He went on to say "people are scared of me - they tell me this later when they get to know me better."
This exercise reminds us that prejudicial stereotypes are as much a function of our own inner incomplete and inherited beliefs as they are of any external reality. We can't fully know what others are thinking of us until we ask. The prejudices of others are equally held in this domain of imagination.
Case studies of holding and losing a prejudice.
The next three examples include holding and then losing a prejudice. They illustrate how prejudice can form and most importantly that it can be overcome. Our process encourages the effective transition into the dispersal of prejudice.
The workshop from "Contempt to Curiosity asked this question: "What's a prejudice you used to have but lost?"
1. The Germans.
Workshop participant: "I used to hate the Germans. I spent my childhood listening to my Granddad talk about the Luftwaffe and his experiences in the air force and I saw all Germans as enemies. If I heard about them in the news or met them I was filled with feelings of hate. Then when Granddad died and I went through all his war memorabilia, I realised that he didn't hate them: he hated what they were doing. He was actually in admiration of their planes, their battle techniques and their soldiers.
Then he was asked, "What difference did this make?"
"I could hold hate and admiration in the same place and I started to get interested in Germans and German history. I've since visited Germany and got German friends. It's become a hobby of mine too; a link to my Granddad."
"Do you know what? I used to hate Asians, hate them. I used to think, "They're ****** everywhere. They've taken over Liverpool, they've just taken our my way of life." I would bitch about this in pubs and stir it up with my mates."
"Then what happened?"
"I was posted, with the Army, to East Africa and my kid made friends with an Asian kid at the school whose Dad was posted out there. I got to know their family, we became friends, had them over dinner and we're still good friends now. I started to loosen up and now when I meet Asians I'm more likely to assume they are friendly and they usually are."
"What motivated you to update your prejudice?"
"Just the contact, no more than that - I had to have some reason for getting to know them and then I could see them as real people."
"Where did the prejudice come from?"
"Actually I've been thinking about that. What happened was I was sent into the Army when I was 17. I left Liverpool and I was away for most of 5 years and when I came back there had been an Asian influx in Liverpool and they had taken over some market stalls in the area I lived. I felt they had changed my home town, but actually it was nothing to do with them. In the time I had been away I could not relate to the people I'd left behind. I'd grown out of my own neighbourhood. Asians became a symbol of the fact that I didn't feel at home when I came home."
"I used to hate disabled people. Hate them. I used to think if they can't walk then why are they f**** driving?" I used to park in disabled bays because I'd just think *** them."
"Then what happened?"
"Well quite late in life I met the woman that I love. I was in my forties when we met and she's wonderful. For the first time I knew what it's like to really like to connect with somebody. Shortly after our marriage she developed Multiple Sclerosis and has been declining ever since. I understand completely now there are disabled parking bays. Every day, every extra step that she has to take is absolute agony for her. My hatred came from watching TV as a kid. My parents used to make fun of disabled people on TV and take the p*** out of them by pretending to be spastics. It was all twisted arms and grunting at each other. I was so horrified I had this idea that I did not want them in cars."
“It is better to live for one day on your feet than for a lifetime on your knees. “ - Zapata
“For nothing is more democratic than logic; it is no respecter of persons and makes no distinction between crooked and straight noses.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” - Zora Neale Hurston
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation” - Herbert Spencer
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays - Bertrand Russell
Reasonable Informed Safe Equitable
When we reflect on these examples we can start to recognise the repeating themes.
The opinions held were not reasonable - in Law the word reason embraces the notions that there should be supporting evidence or valid reasons to support a behaviour and that it should be fair and balanced in all the circumstances. Lawyers in the UK often express reasonableness as the view of the common man on the Clapham Omnibus. Given what we know about the ease with which we slip into prejudice this may not be as reliable as first hoped but it's a great start.
The prejudices were recognised by the people in the examples as lacking the necessary information or evidence to reach a reliable conclusion. Once they were armed with new information which they could trust from their own experience the prejudice was seen for what it was and it evaporated.
The situation for both parties is not safe; obviously the people at who the prejudice is directed have to live in a world in which some others are acting in ways to obstruct their legitimate interests. Equally people who hold prejudices are unsafe because their views are likely to bring them into conflict with others or even be illegal. In law, a decision based on faulty information upon which it is unreasonable to rely would be regarded as an unsafe decision.
Finally, we use the expression equitable which means to deal fairly and equally with all concerned. The branch of Law called Equity derived from the expression "In Equity" or "In all Fairness." In the examples above, to the uninvolved, dispassionate observer it seems unfair to allow a disabled person not to drive merely because they cannot walk.
Hence we arrive at our acronym RISE.
We all can and should expect that our relationships with others be governed by what is:
Recognising the Sources to cope with Fear.
Preparing to begin a RISE session to address your concerns about discrimination is very likely to make you fearful and apprehensive. So let's put this into perspective using Bertrand Russell's quote
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
The ability to spot and be fearful of potential threats to our resources and support network is fully baked into us. We do it from birth when siblings arrive and threaten our access to warmth protection and food. We do it when a new kid comes to our school or somebody new joins our social circle or moves onto our street. Suspicion about change in our circumstances is a proven survival strategy. Only the paranoid survive.
We are slowly evolving from our primitive ancestors who lived in troupes which numbered about 125 members. Conditions were harsh beyond belief and survival depended on conformity to troupe rules all of which ensured that one was likely to be fed and allowed to mate. Remember the chap who hated the Germans because he thought his Granddad did – he was conforming to his idea of the group rules to stay bonded and survive. The guy who hated Asians felt his social bonds were weakening.
Outsiders instantly threaten our access to resources and the group closes ranks as a pre-emptive move. We create peculiar rules and rituals and tribal bonds to make sure we get looked after and other don’t take what we think belongs to us and we need to survive.
Thinking things out logically requires the intervention of time and effort. The frightened bit of the brain works 20 times faster than the more intelligent higher brain.
The process we are about to describe, provides the means for engaging the intellect over the instincts. Fact will overcome fear but it needs a bit of work and courage to get there.
People discriminate by making you frightened because they are frightened themselves. It’s a survival reflex.
They are as keen as you are, though they may not yet recognise it, to have their anxieties about the perceived threat from outsiders removed.
They will come to welcome your intervention as we saw in the case studies.
With RISE you help everybody feel less anxious which is why it’s worth doing it?
Recognising and Experiencing
Recognising and Experiencing discrimination and prejudice is easiest at the extremes.
We can describe two outer limits representing extreme aggression or violence or extreme passive aggression or silence. If you experience extremes of silence or violence then you have every reason to RISE.
The silent treatment is deeply de-humanising. Deliberate isolation or segregation undermines dignity and social connectedness. Violence is easier to identify but as with both types of discrimination its variant forms are not always so easy to spot.
The reality is that most forms sit somewhere between the outer limits and take more subtle forms.
We call these variations avoiding, withdrawing or masking. You are being gently excluded from normal human connectedness.
Variants of violence are called controlling, labelling or attacking – both verbally and physically.
A subtle example of silence might sound like this: "We didn't invite you to the team party last night because we know you people don't eat meat."
A less obvious attack would be "That's typical of women - always letting their emotions get in the way of the right decision."
This would become a very long course if we continued to highlight examples on the spectrum. Once you sense that your level of comfort with your treatment as a human being is being compromised, and only you can make that judgment, then what are you going to do about it. That's when you must think RISE.
Ask yourself, does what's happening to affect my feelings seem reasonable, informed, safe or equitable (fair). If the answer is NO, it's time to start asking some questions. Even if you are proven wrong it's still more than worth it to bring your misgivings to the attention of others around you.
Following this process is the mark of being neither passive nor aggressive but assertive in a mature and adult way.
Step 1 - Set up the time and place to talk in the RISE way
The set up for a RISE conversation is very important for a number of reasons.
Noam Chomsky tells us that “Who controls the agenda controls the outcome." You have the right to have your opinions heard and are never totally powerless. Deciding to set up a conversation about your concerns indicates that you believe you are willing to use the power which discrimination is stealing from you.
The suggested set up is based on experience in sales technique. You effectively have to sell the meeting when you will begin addressing your concerns. As in all sales situations the main fear is one of rejection. You risk being told to "Go Away" if you can't sell the benefit to the other person of listening to what you have to say.
We respectfully suggest that you initially use the wording given here because we know that it works. This is the result of bitter experience.
The other key thing about setting up a meeting is that you are signalling that you have something important to say. This is not a subject for a brief chat around the coffee machine. You are also setting up a safe environment for both parties. It also gives the other person or people time to reflect and to participate in an adult and informed way.
It's also a first indication that you have decided to take assertive action and when you get agreement your spirits and confidence will soar. With time it will become second nature to you but you have to make a first start.
Sell the value
The set-up is essentially a sales pitch the gist of which is: "I would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss some important issues affecting my ability to contribute effectively within our group. There are some things which I'd like to talk about with you which have the potential to improve how we work together. Because this is important to both us and requires some focus if we are to get the right results I have booked a meeting room (private place) and here the details."
The language used frames the meeting as one which has the potential to create mutual benefit and is not a trivial or inconsequential.
However, in cases of prejudice and discrimination it's reasonable to expect and prepare for follow up questions and objections.
For example, "So, what's all this about?"
You do not want to get into the discussion at his point so repeat the general thrust of the meeting. "There are things on my mind which are affecting my and the groups effectiveness and because it's important I'd prefer to address the detail when we meet. It's nothing you need to be worried about. In fact it's aimed at being helpful for both of us. Is that ok with you?"
More on Objection Handling
We will spend a bit more time on objection handling and offer our services to help with any concerns you have if you want to send us a message with your question.
Consider reaction to “Is that OK with you?”
Potential reply "No it's not, I need to know a lot more before I give my time up to meet you."
Objection handling; "I agree and I'd like to go into more detail but that would defeat the object of the meeting. It's about the quality of our working relationship and how to improve it so it will be worth an hour of your time. Does that sound fair?"
Potential reply: "No, it sounds like you are causing trouble, I need to know more."
Objection handling: "OK, I can understand that, it's not going to cause trouble for anybody, in fact it will be a big help to us. In general it's about my concerns that the expectations I had when starting to work in the group have changed and it's affecting my ability to contribute effectively. I would like to present to you my recent experiences and get a chance to learn how you are thinking and feeling about our working together. That sounds fair doesn't it?"
Potential reply "No I need you to be more specific."
Objection handling "OK I can appreciate that but we cannot achieve the benefits I am hoping to achieve if we start the discussion at this point. Are you happy to hold on or would you like for us to find a private meeting area to begin the conversation at some point today?"
Objection: "Unless you tell me more I am not interested in talking to you."
Potential reply: “I understand that, it's simply that things have happened recently that lead me to believe that there are some serious misunderstandings between us and I want to be clear in my mind that I am doing the right thing to clear them up. It's important for me to express my thoughts and to hear your thinking about what to me are serious concerns. That sounds fair to you doesn't it?"
Potential objection: "It sounds like you are ready to accuse me of discrimination. I don't want to get involved."
Potential reply: "It may sound like that but let me repeat and be clear. This is about making sure we do not have any serious misunderstanding between us. My sense is that we do and it's important to get that cleared up. You may want to think about my offer overnight and decide tomorrow. How does that sound? "
Obviously this is an exaggerated example and it could take a more confrontational direction but throughout the emphasis is on holding out the hand of friendship in order to create an environment in which each part is reasonably informed and to do this in a safe way and a safe place which is fair to everybody. Do not get drawn into confrontation as this will defeat your efforts.
Step 2 - State your fundamental beliefs and commitment to RISE.
Once you have sold the other person on meeting you, the onus is on you to set the scene and describe the way you hope that the discussion will flow.
It's important now to state your belief in and commitment to the RISE principles.
"Thanks for agreeing to meet and chat today. I want to set the scene by describing my first expectations when beginning to work with this group."
"It's my belief and expectation about working in this group and I hope your's too that we should treat each other reasonably, support any views, comments or criticisms with fact and that it should be safe to talk about any concerns in a spirit of fairness. Can we both agree now that that's the sort of spirit in which we can work together most productively?"
It's important to get a YES (make sure you hear them say the word YES). They must buy in to these basic ground- rules for progress to be made. Once they say yes they are effectively committed and can't go back. If they can't say YES keep selling your values until they agree but if they can't get this far do not progress. You may need to get some outside legal, professional, union or political support. However you will have initiated the dialogue in a non-contentious and mature way. You can be proud of yourself.
Once the other party accepts the RISE principles we can now lay out our evidence base to suggest that they have been violated. Think of this as a court in which you both present evidence and both try to reach an amicable judgment.
Step 3 Present Your Story
Now you present your evidence. We are only going to use a couple of example to illustrate the basic principle and flow. We offer a free 20 minute Skype coaching session to help you to work out what you are going to say. It would also help to read basic sales text books because what we are doing is "selling" our view that things are not right and a better way can be found to work productively.
In the first example we consider a person from a cultural and religious background which does not allow the consumption of meat or alcohol.
Lay out clearly what you saw and heard happen and how it made you feel and now want to act.
"Last night the team went on a group event for a meal. I was not invited or informed about this. It could have been a great way to learn more about other people in the team. It was likely to have been fun and others might have thought I was not interested. It made me feel isolated and unfairly treated. It made me feel as though I was not valued and that I had to voice my thoughts or else they would turn into a resentment affecting my motivation and effectiveness. Does all of this sound like a reasonable reason to be upset and angry? I can't understand why I was not included as I have been making a useful contribution to the group and do my work as well as can be expected of me. I don't want to work with feelings like this and I believe the organisation as a whole would prefer me to be feeling safe and secure in my role."
"I am hoping that you can now describe what happened from your perspective so that we can make sure there are no misunderstandings about these events as described so far from my viewpoint."
Now move to Step 4 - Let them give their view.
The other side now give their interpretation of what you experienced.
It’s important to pay close attention to what they are saying.
"Well, we thought we were doing the right thing because we know people of your culture and religion don't eat meat and we did not want to cause you embarrassment by going to a place where you could not order anything on the menu. Plus you don't drink and we all planned on having a lot to drink and thought this might upset you. We tend to let our hair down a bit and don't want stories getting back to the bosses."
Step 5 - Seek out any sources of misinformation and underlying fears.
"OK I am starting to get a clearer picture now. Would you have behaved differently if you had known that people from my culture and religion are not offended to share meals with others who eat meat or drink alcohol?"
Hopefully here you can gain agreement that the others were not fully informed. You need to get a firm "yes" to the question before proceeding because there may still be underlying racially motivated intent which has to be brought to light.
"Thank you for caring about how we might feel but it sounds like this was a misunderstanding about what might or might not offend people from my background and not anything else." They must agree to the statement before you can assume this part of their explanation is acceptable to you. It's important to establish that there are no other sinister underlying motives.
Now address the second point about drinking stories.
"I can understand your fear that you would not like any stories about what happens when you all have a drinking session but can't yet understand why you thought I would come back and tell stories to the bosses. Was there something else going on in your thinking because there's no good reason to believe my race or religion might have a bearing on my "snitching" to management. It seems as though you don't have trust at the moment."
"Now that we look at this in a new way you are perhaps right. We tend to talk very frankly about our bosses when we go out for a drink so we are very vigilant about who comes and we know won't let things slip."
"Let me assure you that there's no difference between us on this point about not allowing personal our private thoughts getting back to the bosses. What reason could I possibly have for telling stories out of school? To do that would jeopardise my relationship with others in the group and as you can see by initiating this conversation I'm keen to reassure you that I'm a good reliable team player. Does this help put your mind at rest?"
Step 6 – Solutions and Measures
"OK so I understand things more now. Is it correct to say that you would have invited me if you had fully appreciated my attitude to meat and drink and knew my attitude towards the bosses and the team?"
Again, get a "yes" to the question.
"Do you think it would help if went out for a meal together so we can update each other on any questions we have about how our two cultures operate so as to avoid any future confusion? There's a lot we can both learn from each other. As I stated at the start my hope is that we can all treat each other in a reasonable way, fully informed, feeling safe and treated fairly."
"Perhaps we could arrange for a short talk to the group about the beliefs in my culture just to make sure we don't create misunderstanding again. Do you think that would work? Do you have any ideas on how we can eliminate misunderstanding and build trust?"
"Should we agree to meet and chat over lunch once a fortnight just to keep an eye on things?"
The technique called trial closing "Do you agree with that?" is used all the way through until we finally have an agreement with ongoing assessment points.
Another worked example to demonstrate the principle.
Obviously these are imagined examples, based loosely on personal experience, but the underlying principles are at play in every case.
Here we consider attitudes which affect women and are subtly present and sometimes taken to be inoffensive.
For example, a person in an office setting might say something like this: "Our customer is a really tough negotiator so we'd better send in a hard-nosed bloke like Jack and not leave it to one of the girls on the team."
Running this remark through the RISE test we can recognise that this sort of comment not REASONABLE - there is no logical reason why a properly trained and competent female negotiator should perform as the equal of a man in this or any other circumstances.
It's clearly poorly INFORMED - anybody who fully understands negotiation skills ought to recognise that the gender of the participants is not the most significant factor. Of course, individual personality will affect out comes but these variations are not gender related.
The remark is indicative of an environment which is not SAFE in the sense that gender is being used to create artificial differences between equally competent employees which can't be justified in fact.
All of the above points render the situation lacking EQUITY - it's unfair to hold such attitudes as it suggests there are circumstances in which women are inferior to men which may influence pay and promotion prospects.
So now let's quickly examine the Steps.
Step 1 - the remark breaches the principle so RISE - rise to challenge it in the assertive way we suggest and set up a meeting to address your concerns. Sell the value in having an adult conversation.
Step 2 - begin by laying out what you believe to be your legitimate and reasonable expectations in work and seek agreement that other parties agree that they are fair ground rules for productive working. You have a right to be treated equally given that you are equally competent to negotiate. There are no grounds for discrimination based on gender
Step 3 - describe your experience - what you saw and heard, how it made you think and feel and how it's affecting your ability to contribute. What might appear to others casual throw-away lines which are made in the mistaken belief that they are for the benefit of the business should still be called out in a professional way.
Step 4 - now get their interpretation on events - every court allows both parties to present their evidence.
Step 5 - identify, isolate and talk about any misunderstandings and resulting fears behind behaviour on both sides.
Step 6 - work out how to improve the relationship with periodic review points until RISE is re-established.
SEEK CONDITIONAL CLOSES THROUGHOUT - "You agree with that don't you?"
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About Peter Urey.
Trained to advanced level in personal coaching techniques including Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling, Hoshin Planning, Business NLP and HP's Leadership Development Programme.
Experienced coach for Hewlett Packard, Symantec, Canon, Epson plus many more.
Educated in Law at University of Oxford.
Aged 56, married 29 years, 3 adult children.
Student of Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling under Marian Way, author of Clean Approaches for Coaches.
Black Belt in Karate.