“We meet naturally on the basis of our sameness and grow on the basis of our differentness.”

— Virginia Satir

Tolerance is listening to and appreciating differing perspectives and ideas; valuing diversity.

Most of us initially tend to be more comfortable around those who look like us, share the same values and come from a background we understand. Some find diversity more naturally interesting and seek to understand and incorporate novel ideas from others into work projects or personal activities. For others, it is necessary to consciously seek out those from culturally diverse backgrounds in order to listen and learn that different is not good or bad, but can enrich what we do together. History shows that deep intolerance only causes harm. Some of our country’s darkest moments have resulted from prejudice and intolerance for our own people of diversity because individuals acted out of fear. Guard against repeating such mistakes by rejecting inappropriate treatment of minority groups. Being respectful of all, using good listening skills, developing self-awareness, making yourself approachable, following a policy of treating others fairly, and being aware of the diversity policies of your organization are all important components to building your tolerance and the appearance of tolerance. Tolerance can be learned, and developed by following the tips like these from

If you or someone with whom you work exhibit these behaviors, seeking the advice and tips at provides a quick remedy:

  • Limited exposure to different people, traditions, nationalities and cultures
  • Close-minded; not open to different perspectives
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Raised in a family with prejudices and a poor understanding of different ethnicities and cultures
  • Failing to recognize and test assumptions about differences

Action learning tips and learning assignments on the job are a click away at

You might also consider (a sampling of suggestions from
  • Bucher, Richard D., and Patricia L. Bucher. Diversity Consciousness: Opening Our Minds to People, Culture, and Opportunities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009.
  • Page, Scott. The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.
  • Thomas, R. Roosevelt, Jr. Building on the Promise of Diversity: How We Can Move to the Next Level in Our Workplaces, Our Communities, and Our Society. New York: AMACOM, 2005.

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