Around 200 independent insurance adjusters for E. A. Renfroe gathered in Savannah, Georgia for their annual meetings. One of the main concerns of the meeting was the topic of diversity and inclusion. The meeting kicked off with a keynote address on the subject. The main concern of the keynote was not just defining the topic, but practical ways that diversity and inclusion can be integrated into the daily routines of the individuals.
The acronym “RESPECT” was used to give pragmatic ideas on being inclusive in the diverse culture we live in. As adjusters go about their work they encounter various situations and a broad variety of individuals. To meet each person and situation with an attitude of respect is of the utmost importance. Respect begins with the “realization” that each person is in charge of themselves. So As I approach a door or situation, I am in control of myself. That means I have choices to make on how I will act in any given situation.
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The first choice I have to make is to act with “empathy” toward the person, or persons, I encounter. That means doing the best I can to relate and understand their particular situation. To act with empathy I must also be “self-aware”. To be self-aware means recognizing that my personal history, experience, previous choices, heredity, environment, etc., play into how I relate to the situations. I must understand the personal filters that everything I do and see goes through. These filters determine how I interpret understand and react in any given situation. So I need to be self-aware of those filters and not let them lead me in an incorrect direction.
Self Awareness then leads me to be patient; patient first with myself and then with the situation. I see things through my personal filters, so I must be patient with myself to understand and correct those filters. Then I must be patient with the situation so that I can respond correctly, not just react according to inclinations.
This guides us to the second “e’ which is engagement. This means being fully engaged with the person at the moment. How can a person do this effectively? By developing good communication and listening skills. This is as easy as making sure you understand the other person, then making sure they understand you. It also means paying attention to what is said and expressed by the others before formulating a well thought out response.
The “c” stands for “cultural sensitivity”. Other people have different filters, so be aware and sensitive to what they might be. Try to understand how they have been influenced and recognize there filters may be very different than your own. Not that one is right and the other wrong, just that different people have different filters. Seek to see the situation from their perspective, through their filters. And then “think positively”. When entering a situation with respect in place you can move toward a situation where a positive outcome can come to pass. In fact, plan on it by being positive from the very approach. Don’t wait until the door opens to be positive, be positive when preparing. See very situation and circumstance as an opportunity to be the best person you can be; be the best influence you can be and make the best positive difference that can be made.
E.A. Renfroe choice of making diversity and inclusion a topic of the importance of their meetings was a good and timely choice. Their adjusters can embrace to the world they face with dignity and respect.