Put your assumptions on paws
February 13, 2019 by Guy Schoonmaker
I grew up with a dog. It was a great dog; a big fluffy Newfoundland who didn’t mind wrestling around with me and my brothers. As what seems to be the norm for many dog-lovers, I developed an anti-cat mentality for no particular reason. I’d say things like “cats aren’t loyal like dogs” and “cats only care about themselves.” Of course I said these things having never owned a cat, while most of my information about cats came from memes and gifs (by the way, 2A makes a great cat gif if you’re ever in the market).
Over the last six months, through no ambition of my own, two cats have prowled their way into my life, one at home and one at work. And you know what, they’re not that bad. In fact, cats are pretty cool! They are happy to hang out with you, but also fine on their own. They like a little more space than most dogs, but I think anyone commuting in Seattle right now can relate to wanting a little more space.
What’s the lesson learned here? Don’t be afraid to question your own assumptions.
One challenge around implementing inclusive behavior is knowing where to start. There’s no quick checklist on how to be inclusive but putting your assumptions under a microscope is a great first step.
Checking your assumptions can help you avoid snap judgements on first impressions and embrace confrontation with empathy instead of anger. And of course, it can lead to giving cats a chance. The bottom line is, we all make assumptions every day. But becoming aware of your assumptions and recognizing when they need to be challenged will open you up to new ideas, collaborations, and maybe even a new pet.
Inclusivity has become more of a priority for workplaces over the last decade, and 2A is clearly on board. Just about a month into my role here, I already notice the effort to make our office a comfortable and healthy environment. From stating preferred pronouns to scrapping the antiquated primary/secondary criteria in parental leave—the inclusive culture here is fur real.