Ally is not a noun. Allies are defined by their actions.

— Dr. Makini King, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives, University of Missouri–Kansas City*

It is natural to react and respond when you are in harm’s way. Taking action about something that does not impact you directly is something different altogether. It’s counterintuitive and unnatural to throw ourselves into the fray of something that doesn’t have a direct impact on us.

Being an ally, lending our voices in defense of others, is a courageous act. …

Book Cover: The Leader’s Guide To Unconscious Bias

The Skills of Curiosity and Empathy

As we meet people and enter new situations, our brains are sorting, mostly based on gut reactions. This sort is largely superficial and drawn from initial instincts, but the ramifications of that initial categorization can be vast.

Employing the skills of empathy and curiosity can help us check our assumptions and explore our thinking. It can also uncover biases we might have, as each connection point becomes fertile ground for increasing likability.

Empathy is an interpersonal approach, putting yourself in other people’s shoes. …

Remember those middle school word problems about how fast a train is going? American researchers gave a group of individuals a similar set of word problems.* They gave them a baseline test on their math skills, then a problem to solve about skin care and a problem to solve about gun control. The results were fascinating. If the answer to the gun-control problem contradicted the individual’s political beliefs, the participants couldn’t solve it. This was true of both conservatives and liberals. Their ability to solve the problem changed based on the beliefs they held. …

Pamela Fuller

Pamela Fuller is the lead author of “The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias.” She currently serves as FranklinCovey’s thought leader on Inclusion and Bias.

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