• Merrah Harris, University of Central Missouri

To Hear or to Listen





As the world continues to evolve, each generation picks up the pieces of the past, little by little, striving to do better.

During my travels with the National Millennial and Gen Z Community, we were asked many questions and shown many examples of what diversity, equity, and inclusion could and should look like in the workplace.

I learned that others have hit human decency and camaraderie on the nail. Sometimes it is up to those immersed in diversity to show others; sometimes, it does not take asking a million questions to feel understood or being completely silent for others to feel heard.

At times it simply takes three things: your attention, empathy, and respect.

During our trip to Charlotte, NC, we participated in design-thinking exercises at CGI, a technology consulting firm. They asked us to describe our ideal workplace benefits; we then categorized them and rated our group’s top three preferences.

One thing I noticed was that even in a room full of strangers worldwide, our wants and needs were very similar; some were outrageous, and others reasonable. However, we could all agree on most of them, even those we had not thought of ourselves.

At that moment, I felt they were hearing us even though the only thing that would make my workplace ideal was extra water fountains.

I was so curious about what my fellow NMGZ members were writing that I honestly could have cared less about putting my opinions on the board, and I was glad I had them to rely on to bring up more essential topics.

Throughout our trip, we were able to partake in numerous exercises and activities amongst many respected individuals in the industry. We were challenged, asked questions, and given excellent and much-needed advice.

These experiences got me thinking about human interactions and what I need to work on to better myself to be more inclusive to people around me.

Just because someone asks a question does not mean they are willing to listen to the answer. Sometimes what matters more is not that you asked a question but did you listen.


Is it more important for your voice to be heard or to submit yourself to someone else’s notions or judgments?

One thing I learned is that paying attention and listening to the intent of your question can lead you to some of the best possible answers.

If people would allow themselves to feel vulnerable and let go of their egos, they may be immersed in a diverse world of understanding and kinship. A world that you can only experience when you have decided you are not superior to anyone or anything, one that is full of bravery, intelligence, and camaraderie.

Once someone decides to lift their shield of superiority, they will understand that there is no difference between a lion and a wallflower, and both can come up with the most brilliant answers or none.


Because sometimes the unseen can have the most significant impact.


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