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Stereotypes: More than just…

Posted: 01/03/2017

Ever been to a funeral of someone you liked and thought you knew well, only to discover through the eulogy that there was so much more about the person than you knew?

How many times have you walked by the reception desk, said hello to the office administrators and even gone so far as to ask if they had a good weekend, but not really asked how they spent their time?

Or how many times have you gone on the Saturday morning group ride with other cyclists and never thought to talk about something other than the sport of cycling, the weather, or the new bike they might be thinking about buying?

We can very often fall into the trap of seeing a person in the role they are undertaking, without ever considering that they may have other skills, strengths, interests or roles that we don’t know about.

Do we fall into the trap of seeing a client or student within the context of how they have presented to us or can we look a little deeper and discover that they have more strengths and skills they can bring to the table?

Andrew Shirres, Innovative Resources’ practice development coach, facilitated a workshop with an administration team recently. He asked the question, ‘How can you look at someone in your team, not as a co-worker, team mate or colleague, but in another way?’ The second part of this activity involved participants thinking about how they themselves could be viewed in another way by their work peers.

Innovative Resources has been testing a set of cards to help with ‘widening the lens’ on how we look at each other—especially how we can view clients as people with skills, interests and strengths, and more specifically, as contributors in our communities.

Some of the roles or contributions a person might carry include: story-holder, inspiration, hard worker, family-builder, solution-finder, holder-of-wisdom, artist … the list goes on. The investigation and reflection is aimed not so much at identifying what people are good at, but more at discovering, sharing and reflecting on a fuller and more accurate appreciation of ourselves and others.

The administrative team enjoyed learning about the diversity and richness of members in their team and have adopted a mantra, ‘More than just …’ as the starting point for extending awareness to other colleagues across the agency to look beyond stereotypes.

Georgena Stuckenschmidt

Note: Andrew is available to work with organisations around practice reflection and broadening perspectives on how to deliver services in a strengths-based way. For more information contact us or visit our training page.

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