Thursday, October 25, 2012

35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say by Dr. Maura Cullen

Even well-intended people can cause harm.

Have you ever heard yourself or someone else say: "Some of my best friends are... (Black, White, Asian, etc.)"? "I don't think of you as... (Gay, Disabled, Jewish, etc.)"? "I don't see color, I'm colorblind"? These statements and dozens like them can build a divide between us and the people we interact with. Though well-intended, they often widen the diversity gap sometimes causing irreparable harm personally and professionally. If you've ever wanted to be more effective in your communication with others, or have been afraid of saying the wrong thing, then this concise guide is essential to becoming more inclusive and diversity-smart.

A powerful diversity training too from one of the most respected diversity trainers. (from GoodReads)

Review:I'm an RA and we had a diversity training session based on this book, so I was very glad to receive of copy of 35 Dumb Things. I'm definitely one of the well-intended people the book talks about because I'm very conscious of what I say and how I say it. Luckily for me, I don't really say any of the things on the list, but it was still interesting to see the reasons why you shouldn't say them.

A lot of the things on the list I hear all the time. I really liked how Dr. Cullen made the distinction between intent and impact. Many of the statements are meant to be nice or a way to connect with a person of diverse background. However, when a person says it it comes across as condescending or ignorant. I think it's important to recognize the fact that while you can say whatever you want, everyone will be happier if you don't say it in an offensive way.

Dr. Cullen gave many tips about being a conscious speaker and also gave some explanations as to why something you say may not seem like a big deal, but the person reacts strongly. It's called the "pile-on principle" and it means that all day a person might hear racist/sexist/homophobic comments so when you make a slightly offensive jibe, the person may be more upset than if your comment was the only one they heard all day.

The only thing I didn't like and that made me roll my eyes a lot was that the author had blank pages throughout the book each with one of her own quotes on it. Usually this page would come in the middle of a section and it would throw me off when the section continued after it. Also the quotes were ones that could already be found in the text so they were unnecessary.

Overall, I think this is a book that should be required reading for every person because it has a lot of good information. A lot of people may not care about what they are saying but there are probably people that would learn a lot from it.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: a gift

2008/Morgan James Publising/141 pages.


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