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Observational Report 2 Social-Awareness

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Observational Report 2
Social-Awareness
November 3, 2011

Boyatzis, Goleman and McKee (2004) state that Social-Awareness means “being attuned to how others feel in the moment, a leader can say and do what’s appropriate, whether that means calming fears, assuaging anger, or joining in good spirits. This attunement also helps the leader sense the shared values and priorities that can help guide the group.” Therefore it basically gives one the ability to be more empathetic which in turn, allows them to create resonance. Social-Awareness according to authors Greene and Kamimura (2003) is defined in terms of the importance that students attribute to: 1) speaking up against social injustice; 2) creating awareness of how people affect the environment; 3) promoting racial tolerance and respect; and 4) making consumer decisions based on a company’s ethics.

Our personal and professional lives present multiple opportunities to practice Social-Awareness. Like our personal lives, one must avoid creating barriers in their professional lives that prevent them from achieving personal goals and aspirations.
In this example, as a direct result of the tragedy that occurred in New York City, September 11, 2001, Arab Americans or those perceived to be Arabian have been unfairly treated by unenlightened Americans. They have been and continue to be targeted as if they themselves flew those planes into the trade center or were the masterminds behind it. The hundreds of news reports chronicling the beatings, killings, harassments and threats made towards Arab Americans are reminiscent of the horrible injustices committed towards African Americans during the Civil Rights movement in the South during the fifties and sixties. This treatment has got to stop because as author Neuliep states, “The Arab American Institute believes that in 2003 at least 3.5 million people in America have roots in the Arab-speaking world.” (Neuliep 2009) which means this is one of the faster growing micro cultures in America. I have witnessed this ignorance many times throughout my career; routinely working with people of various cultural backgrounds I have on more than one occasion had the unfortunate chance to hear the hatred towards others while on my job. On one of several occasions I was speaking with a coworker that was of Indian descent not even Arab American about a trip he was planning to Kuwait to visit his sister. One of my Caucasian coworkers listening to our dialogue decides to make an unsolicited comment he interrupts rudely and states to the co-worker “You must have to arrive at the airport 5 hours in advance; I know they don’t just let you walk through security all of your people look like terrorists. Do they check your young’n too?” I responded, “No you didn’t! That was mean, and besides he is Indian not Middle Eastern.” “Same difference they all look alike to me” he responded. The coworker, while not offended brushed it off because he said he is used to the wise cracks, went on to say that he did not understand why people are so paranoid in the US. I merely commented it’s just how it is. As I walked away I thought to myself what I would have done in that situation if I was the foreigner and I surmised that a person more socially aware would have handled that situation differently. After the incident, I shared with him my displeasure with the interruptions and explained why they were not necessary and unethical.

Supported by my observations during the interruptions and my discussion with my coworker afterwards, I could conclude that he was lacking social awareness and/or needed a crash course on diversification. In this scenario, my coworker could have taken the initiative to get more familiar with other persons in the organization not like him. Additionally, he could have simply kept his negative views of others to himself.

Boyatzis, Richard, Goleman, Daniel and McKee, Annie (2004). Primal leadership: learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press
Greene, Shirley and Kamimura, Mark (2003). Ties that Bind: Enhanced Social Awareness Development Through Interactions with Diverse Peers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education Portland, Oregon, November.

Neuliep, James. (2009). Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. Sage Publications, Inc.

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