Diversity Spotlight: Dealing With Strange People Who Are Not The Same As You
Throughout your workday, you may have the misfortune of having to interact with people who look or act differently than you. Is the appropriate response to ignore them? Yes. But if you must talk with them, how do you do it without enraging their primitive sensibilities?
We have some tips for this very purpose, helpfully categorized by minority/subgroup. The best part? All of these tips are based on a real-life diversity guide distributed to state workers (we're not kidding).
1.) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Coworkers
Above: if your coworker looks like this, he may be a homosexual.
Employees who make the decision to "come out" are usually apprehensive about the kinds of reaction they will receive from colleagues. This is because they are gay, and by nature are way too sensitive about emotions. Consequently, be sure to avoid saying any of the following:
"I don't consider you gay."
This simple statement, while complimentary to anyone else, should never be said to gay people, as it seems to make them upset. Scientists are still not sure why.
"Have you thought about getting help?"
By federal law, psychologists are not allowed to give gay people any help. Don't remind your new gay coworker about this fact with an insensitive question.
"I didn't need to hear that."
While hearing someone declare their homosexuality is probably the last thing you would ever want to hear or think about, you must endure it. After all, who else will the gay person tell? His or her family has most likely already fled the country out of shame.
2.) African American Coworkers
Above: the only known illustration of the elusive African American and his mate.
Depending on where you grew up, it's possible you may never have encountered an African American, or "black", person. These curious creatures are very similar to you or I. In fact, you may be an African American, and not even know it! Wait, that can't be right. In any case, when talking to your chocolate-colored coworkers, try to avoid the conversation starters below:
Sentences that start like this are offensive because they assume that all black people are people. Think about how you would feel if someone referred to you as a person.
"You are very articulate!"
Back when they were both merely Presidential candidates, Vice-President Joe Biden called President Barack Obama -- a known African American -- "articulate". Obama retaliated by making him the Vice-President, widely regarded as a terrible job to have. The moral? African Americans can't stand words beginning with the prefix "art". For this reason, never offer a black person artichoke salad.
"I'm not prejudiced against black people. My neighbors are black."
Never lie to a black person. You couldn't possibly have black neighbors unless you yourself are black.