The 5 Mindsets: How Your Team Might Interact with Diversity

January 23, 2024

What do you know about the people you work with every day? 

Where are they from? What were their childhoods like? Where did they work before this?

Everyone’s past experiences directly affect how they interact with other people and approach relationships, as well as how they embark on a journey toward interacting with diversity and becoming inclusive. 

When businesses develop initiatives to engage in a DEI journey, they need to be aware of how employees’ histories, cultures, and environments have affected their attitudes and behaviors. 

CultureALL DEI Planning provides the tools necessary to gain this awareness and understand how to move forward to reach your business goals.

Knowing who you’re engaging with is key to planning an effective DEI strategy that actually effects change. Your team can engage in developmental activities that are suitable for its growth by taking inventory using the world renowned data analytics tool administered by CultureALL DEI Planning. The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is the leading psychometric instrument that objectively identifies how a person approaches diversity. 

When colleagues understand how one another are affected by their environments and experiences, they’re able to build trust and cohesion. Goals are met, employees enjoy coming to work, and everyone is willing to join along on the DEI journey all the way to belonging.


What causes people to deny that culture, race, religion, abilities, and other differences are worth noticing?

Before you answer, consider this: we all begin in Denial. It’s the first stage for all people, no matter what culture or life experiences we come from. 

In Denial, we miss differences. That's it. To understand this, think back to the first time you were struck with the realization that someone had a different perspective than yours. What happened? Maybe you laughed at a classmate for always sleeping in class. Maybe you hurt a friend's feelings by being too direct. Or maybe you expected a colleague to just do the job they were hired to do.

What causes people to deny that differences matter? Usually, it's just a lack of exposure to other cultures and life experiences. There is nothing intentional or mean about it. A lot of really wonderful, nice people have a mindset that differences don't matter.

But differences do matter. Denial is the beginning of a journey that presents many wonderful opportunities for you and your team to grow.


Can we as a society make progress when we are so polarized?

Yes. Absolutely.

Polarization is a mindset that is a sign of progress.

Even though polarization feels like conflict (and conflict often feels bad), it nonetheless indicates that we have moved beyond avoiding diversity and are now exploring our own judgments about difference: that's so weird; they're just wrong; this is the better way.

Polarization is a natural step toward recognizing differences. At CultureALL, we call that progress.

Generally, people who think in terms of "us" versus "them" are really wonderful, nice, well-intentioned people.

Still, there's more progress to be made. The developmental task for people feeling polarized by differences is to recognize when they pass judgment about the "other" and to identify similarities between "us" and "them."


"I treat people the way I want to be treated" seems like one of the most respectful things a person can do. This mindset recognizes our common humanity.

But it also ignores that we each have uniquely individual and cultural preferences.

For example, colleagues have different communication styles: one may prefer direct feedback that is brief and to the point; while another may feel more encouragement from an indirect, story-telling, face-saving approach.

People who minimize differences may value the unique qualities of other people. However, they are often surprised when diversity disturbs the group's assimilated norm.

Is your team minimizing differences? If so, you could be missing out on the benefits of having a diverse team.


Is Acceptance the same as Assimilation?

If you "give in" to someone, does that mean you have to give up a part of who you are?

Not at all. Acceptance is about appreciating who you are while respecting others as well.

By the time people develop a mindset of Acceptance, they recognize differences and appreciate the important role diversity of cultures plays in communications, conflict resolution, and daily life.

Even at this more complex level of understanding, people who accept differences don't necessarily have the skills and experiences they desire to make decisions in culturally adaptive ways.


What does it mean to be culturally adaptive?

It means you interact with diversity in ways that consider the cultural realities of the circumstance.

For example, you may be aware that some cultural groups say “Yes” even when the answer is “No.” So when you ask a colleague whether they understand the task and they say “Yes,” you take another approach to communicate in order to ensure they are able to succeed.

Adaptation means you have mental dexterity and emotional agility to shift perspectives and adjust behaviors so that you can authentically bridge cultures.

People in Adaptation still believe in right/wrong and good/bad. For example, you may still believe that saying “Yes” when the answer is clearly “No” is the wrong thing to do. But people in Adaptation tend to see these situations in a broad, well-informed context. The person saying “No” may be saving face for you as much as for themselves.

This expanded view opens the door to more equity-minded policies and procedures, better decision making, constructive conflict, team building, and other leadership abilities.

CultureALL is here to help expand your team's capacity to shift perspectives and adapt to differences in culturally appropriate ways. We provide a full set of tools, training on how to use them, and a roadmap for your journey.

Emails for a free consultation. 

CultureALL believes that sharing the cultural richness of our community with others will elevate our society and the quality of life for all.