June 19, 2017
Whenever I used to enter a room and didn’t know a soul, I looked for people like me. People around my age, maybe with clothes like me, who felt familiar. I would strike up a conversation, quickly looking for things we have in common. Did we both grow up in the Midwest? Live in Uptown? Like the same restaurant? I always thought that similarities created connection, connection made people feel comfortable and from there a real relationship could blossom.
Over the past six months, this perspective has changed. I have become more involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives and realized that my thinking, although meant with the best intentions, leaves many incredible people out of the equation.
Because on the outside, people don’t always look like you but that doesn’t mean there isn’t so much potential richness to experience.
And when it comes down to it, we all have so much in common. For example, in the moment when you’re standing in that room of strangers, you can always ask, “What brought you here today?” And you share the same weather, which we all know brings Minnesotans together. Right there, you begin to create connection.
But then as the conversation begins to flourish you might realize you didn’t grow up in the same place or like the same restaurants and that is amazing. Because your eyes are widened to all the things outside of your world that you are not exposed to. Things that give you better perspective and helps you understand opinions that are sometimes different than yours and better taste all the goodness that life has to offer.
So now, whenever I attend a networking event, a party or gathering, I tend to look for people who don’t look like me. I strike up a conversation with them and see where it takes me. And so far, the outcome has been fantastic. I urge you to give it a go and see where it takes you.