I spent yesterday at a diversity training in Oakland conducted by the National MultiCultural Institute (NMCI) and hosted by the Capacity Building Network (CBN). There were many lessons during the day for our work. One of the lessons that really resonated with me was about “Focusing on shared values.” What does that mean? Examples of values NMCI gave that you may share with someone (even someone who on the surface may not appear to have anything in common with you) include family, children, community wellness, responsibility, equality, and opportunity.
So let’s say you have an activity in your workplan to “recruit a representative of a Latino organization into our coalition.” Well just forget doing that in one quick phone call or email! The other person, especially if he/she is a member of a group not usually represented in your coalition, may not be comfortable joining right away. You need to build a personal relationship based on shared values. Set up a one-on-one meeting. And spend part of this meeting, or even a whole meeting, exploring your differences and your shared values.
Over time you can build a relationship based on these shared values and develop trust. And over time you two can begin to figure out how he/she might get involved in your coalition in a way that feels comfortable for him/her and actually is the most productive for the coalition.
Have you had success taking the slow approach?