Written by Linda Pacheco
Have you ever heard anyone say a stereotypical comment, unfair comment, or express a bias — especially at work?
How did you react? What did you do? What did you say?
Unfortunately, most people say they didn’t know how to act or what to say. So they did nothing.
The good news is there is now a tool available to help. It’s called Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts: Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World. This new training tool can help anyone—team leader, team member, supervisor, customer service rep, executive—anyone who communicates.
And let's face it. We all communicate. Although it is very easy to point out that “those people over there” are biased, it is not as easy to look at ourselves and admit we have some bias. And the fact is all people are naturally biased.
Worse case scenario is bias can bring about a claim of a hostile work environment or public relations nightmare. Or it can undermine teamwork, morale, and productivity. Either way, bias and stereotyping are not conducive to an environment in which employees to do and be their best.
This is where Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts can help. Based on the book version of Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts by Leslie Aguila, it is a training program that includes a CD-ROM, DVD, reminder cards, and the Ouch! book. It can be used in any organization or for any group of people who want to build a more respectful environment. The skills are applicable to both work and personal life.
The best way to begin is to familiarize yourself with the entire program and its contents. The CD-ROM is the place to start. Here you can find the leader’s guide, handouts, and PowerPoint slides.
I recommend beginning with the leader’s guide and reviewing the objectives:
* To understand the impact of stereotypes and biased statements, even when casually said.
* To identify the most common reasons people sit silent in face of bias and stereotypes.
* To enhance skills for speaking up against stereotypes without blame or guilt.
Once you are familiar with the contents, you can then decide how to best use the program for your needs, whether they are teamwork, communication, leadership development, diversity training, coaching, or other uses. The leader’s guide is designed to prepare you and give you everything you need to fully facilitate a session.
Information, outlines, speaker notes, and recommendations are included. You have two fully designed sessions to choose from: the full two-and-a-half hour workshop or the one-hour version.
The materials are flexible enough that you can pick and choose the components and design your own session or workshop or incorporate it into an existing training program. Also included on the CD-ROM are reproducible handouts for both the short and long versions and PowerPoint slides. One of the features I like is that the PowerPoint comes with a pre-formatted Master Slide so you can create additional slides.
The DVD gives you two video options: a 12-minute version or a slightly longer 13-and-a-half minute version. Both versions include a powerful introduction that enables viewers to experience the impact of stereotypical remarks. Both versions then go to the stories section, which explores why people don’t speak up against stereotyping and other biased behaviors.
The shorter video next addresses speaking up, with six techniques to help you speak up on behalf of respect. The video is designed to be used with the Speaking Up Activity, also provided on the DVD. It includes 10 quick vignettes; students are asked to determine which technique or techniques each vignette demonstrates. A supporting Participant Handout is available on the CD-ROM.
The longer video incorporates many of the vignettes instead of consigning them to the separate activity. This version is ideal if you are facilitating shorter training sessions. Both videos include English and Spanish subtitles.
Rounding out the Ouch! training package are small, wallet-sized reminder cards and a copy of the book Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts. The cards outline the six speaking up techniques, and the book provides additional information on communicating respectfully.
As the Ouch! book reminds us, we may never be completely free of all bias. However, since everyone in this world communicates, everyone can choose to work towards communicating in a bias-free way.
Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts is a very easy-to-use training program that makes a strong point. The examples are realistic, and the techniques are easy to implement. Remember, most people don’t speak up against bias because they don’t know how. This program teaches the how. With practice, it gives us confidence to handle those types of situations where before we might not have because we didn’t know what to do or say.
The only thing I would to see added to the video are longer vignettes or narrated explanations after them. But this is a small point, as an experienced trainer or facilitator can handle it.
I recommend Ouch! That Stereotype Hurt for any organization that wants to increase employee awareness of remarks that might seem OK on the surface but are really based on bias or stereotypes. As this program points out, “One voice—your voice—can make a difference.” And that is the beginning of building a workplace where all people feel included, respected, and able to do their best.