Making Hidden Diversities Visible


Often someone’s real needs are hidden behind their stated ones.

A person may come into complain, but really they are just seeking someone to acknowledge and listen to them.

A person may be complaining about a letter they received, when in reality they need help with managing their finances.

A person may be asking for someone to ring them, when in reality they are having trouble with their reading and wish they could solve that problem.

A person may be seeking more communication from your organisation because they are in need of company at home.

A person may be asking a lot of questions, because they are confused generally in their life or about something completely different that has dented their confidence

Our hidden “diversity” – sometimes hidden from even ourselves – often influences and plays into our behaviour more than we are aware of.

Sometimes it is the hidden needs that really need noticing, acknowledging and meeting, and the more stated needs are just a symptom of a deeper problem.

Hidden diversities can include:

– other things going on in our lives that need sorting as well as our current stated need

– our physical and mental states that help or hinder us in life

– undiagnosed physical or psychological conditions that affect us but haven’t been named or treated

– fears, phobias and past traumas

– our sense of who we are in life, and who we really want to be, and the gap between the two

– our energy level and level of motivation

– the “constellation” – our family, friends, work situation and the demands and stresses of these upon us

– our secret wishes and goals in life

– the things that trigger certain positive or negative emotional and behavioural reactions in us

– the labels we attached to ourselves, or that are attached to us: “ethnic minority”, dyslexic, lazy, a winner …

– our affinity with people, place, culture, job, social group or setting, cause or set of beliefs or values

Any or all of these can play into our behaviour – in different ways and in different situations. They are often hidden and it is a real skill to be able to see them, name them, and adapt to them if needed. We can do this through:

– asking questions

– observing and listening actively

– creating and practising self-awareness

– learning to read body language and looking for clues in styles of speaking

– “flushing them out” through directness and challenge (where appropriate)

– looking for patterns over time and learning to identify them

– being able to be flexible in our own behavioural repertoire

– being able to improvise in different situations

– learning about different diversities – being informed and aware through training and research

– helping people self-observe, putting them at ease to look inside themselves honesty and reflect

Adaptation, flexibility of response and appropriate naming and assertiveness can all help us deal with hidden diversities.

Which of these skills do you have?

Which of these behaviours and skills are built into your organisation’s approach to dealing with tenants?

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