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Tanisha's Tips: How Do I Relax Around Other Races on the Job?

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Career Woman 5
I was bused before I ever knew it was called busing. I grew up in Philadelphia, moved to New Jersey in the 8th grade, then moved back to Philly in the 11th grade. Why all of the moving? My brother, God love him, was a badass (Lord, please don’t let him read this…).

Nonetheless, my sweet momma shipped our behinds off to New Jersey for a better life, a better education and more opportunities. And that’s exactly what we got. It was also the first time I was really exposed to white folks. Chile, I was just as shocked as they were. But you know what’s funny? The Caucasians were actually nice, something that flew in the face of what I had been taught: that they weren’t, to say the least. It also taught me that people were people with both commonalities and differences, and that once you got to know them, it was cool.

I subsequently carried that into the workplace, and my best advice for “relaxing” around people from other races is to attend the after-work meet ups, join the diversity groups other than the Black ones, recruit a mentor of a different race and join organizations that actually interest you.

Bottom line: Get to know who they are as a person. Kids? Hobbies? Sports? Develop these relationships organically. Don't ever try to fabricate something that's not there because it will make you look silly in front of your colleagues. In order to really work it to your advantage on the job, become a standout — do something in the company that no one else is doing that adds value. Trust me, if you are delivering the goods in a way that no one else is, then they will come to you. It’s not about your ingratiating yourself to anyone. Gain their trust, loyalty and respect and they will come running.

Now that's a Tanisha's Tip!
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