How Do Diversity Assumptions Influence Team Member

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Self Exercise: How Do Diversity Assumptions
Influence Team Member Interactions?
Objectives
1. To identify diversity assumptions.
2. To consider how diversity assumptions impact team members’ interactions.
Introduction
Assumptions can be so ingrained that we do not even know that we are using them. Negative assumptions can limit our
relationships with others because they influence how we perceive and respond to those we encounter in our daily lives.
This exercise is designed to help identify the assumptions that you have about groups of people. Although this exercise
may make you uncomfortable because it asks you to identify stereotypical assumptions, it is a positive first step at
facing and examining the assumptions we make about other people. This awareness can lead to positive behavioral
change.
Instructions
Complete the diversity assumptions worksheet. The first column contains various dimensions of diversity. For each
dimension, the second column asks you to identify the assumptions held by the general public about people with this
characteristic. Use the third column to determine how each assumption might limit team members’ ability to effectively
interact with each other. Finally, answer the questions for discussion.
Diversity Assumption Worksheet
Dimension of Diversity
Assumption That Might
Be Made
Impact on Team
Members’ Interactions
Age
Example: You can’t teach an old dog
new tricks. Older people are closed to
be resistant to change to new ideas.
Example: Younger people haven’t
had the proper experience to come up
with good solutions.
Example: Older people are
considered to be resistant to change.
Example: Input from younger
employees is not solicited.
Ethnicity (e.g., Mexican)
Gender
Race
Physical ability
(e.g., hard of hearing)
Sexual orientation
Marital/parental status
(e.g., single parent with
children)
Religion (e.g., Buddhist)
Recreational habits
(e.g., hikes on weekends)
Educational background
(e.g., college education)
Work experience
(e.g., union)
Appearance
(e.g., overweight)
Geographic location
(e.g., rural)
Personal habits
(e.g., smoking)
Income (e.g., well-to-do)
Questions for Discussion
1. Where do our assumptions about others come from?
2. Is it possible to eliminate negative assumptions about others? How might this be done?
3. What most surprised you about your answers to the diversity assumption worksheet?
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