BY AUTUMN MCBRIDE (TAU, BRENAU UNIVERSITY), ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES
We are real, strong women diverse in our experiences, identities, stories and opinions. At times, it might seem like our diverse viewpoints can lead to division rather than harmony. While most would agree that harmony is important, putting it into practice can be challenging. Some members may quickly find common ground, while others may struggle to navigate conversations with differing perspectives. That’s why, as members, it’s important to embrace the art of consensus.
So, what is consensus? In simple terms, it's when a group of individuals can make decisions together that lead to positive outcomes, even when faced with differing opinions. By building consensus together, we can promote civility, foster collaboration and strengthen our bonds.
Now, let's explore how we can create environments where individuals with diverse viewpoints can come together in a respectful and constructive manner. Consider the recommendations below as you strive to cultivate harmony!
PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING – THE FOUNDATION OF TRUST
Trust is the foundation upon which consensus is built and the best way to build that foundation is by practicing active listening with your sisters and others. Active listening is not just hearing words, it is a fundamental skill that involves fully engaging with the speaker and striving to understand their thoughts and feelings. For example, instead of just nodding along or waiting your turn to speak, consider providing verbal cues like "I understand” or "Tell me more, to show the speaker you are engaged and attentive.
Through active listening, we foster empathy and perspective-taking, encouraging us to appreciate all that is noble in another! Active listening also helps clarify misunderstandings and prevent potential conflicts.
Think back to a time where active listening could have helped change the outcome of a conversation for the better. How can you strike a balance between listening and responding in your next conversation?
IDENTIFY SHARED VALUES – BUILDING BRIDGES
Shared values act as a bridge that connects individuals from different backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. Recognizing these commonalities makes it easier to relate to one another; however, understanding shared values does not mean you have to give up your own beliefs. Instead, it's about focusing on what unites us, allowing us to embrace and respect diversity. Identifying our shared values and goals also brings clarity and purpose to the conversation, helping us answer the question: "What are we striving to achieve together?
Identify ways you can create an environment where sharing values and goals is not only encouraged but actively supported. What steps can you personally take and how you can encourage others to do the same!
ACKNOWLEDGE DIFFERENCES – OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
Alpha Chi Omega encourages all members to embrace our interconnected and diverse world. Open and honest discussions about differing opinions or approaches are a great way to begin. Respecting diverse perspectives allows us to recognize their value, even when they differ from our own. If conflicts arise during your discussions, address them respectfully. Remember, differences can be a source of strength and innovation within groups, rather than division.
Challenge yourself to actively embrace differences as opportunities for growth and consensus building! Consider how this change in mindset can positively impact your relationships with others and promote a more harmonious community.
HOLDING DIALOGUE – A CONTINUOUS JOURNEY
Cultivating harmony is a continuous journey that takes time, patience and a willingness to engage in meaningful conversation. Together, let's actively encourage others to create a space for and embrace open dialogue, as it not only fosters understanding but also provides opportunities for connecting with one another. Engaging in these interactions also allows us to collaborate effectively and foster a strong sense of belonging!
Take a moment to think about the power of communication in fostering understanding and community. How can you actively promote open discussion within your circles?
As you continue your personal development journey and work towards cultivating harmony, remember that these recommendations are foundational and serve as a starting point and not a checklist. Embracing consensus building requires intentional effort and may not always be easy! Yet, it is through our ongoing efforts and commitment that we cultivate harmony and build lasting connections and aim to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us – and that’s the beauty of sisterhood.
Learn something valuable from this Notes of Belonging? Want to share your thoughts or personal experience with belonging through your Alpha Chi Omega experience? Share your story now!