Essential Elements of Dignity

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Essential Elements of Dignity

• Acceptance of Identity—Approach people as neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting how race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc. are at the core of their identities. Assume they have integrity.

• Recognition—Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help; be generous with praise; give credit to others for their contributions, ideas and experience.

• Acknowledgment—Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating and responding to their concerns and what they have been through.

• Inclusion—Make others feel that they belong at all levels of relationship (family, community, organization, nation).

• Safety—Put people at ease at two levels: physically, where they feel free of bodily harm; and psychologically, where they feel free of concern about being shamed or humiliated, that they feel free to speak without fear of retribution.

• Fairness—Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way, according to agreed upon laws and rules.

• Independence—Empower people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.

• Understanding—Believe that what others think matters; give them the chance to explain their perspectives, express their points of view; actively listen in order to understand them.

• Benefit of the Doubt—Treat people as trustworthy; start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.

• Accountability—Take responsibility for your actions; if you have violated the dignity of another, apologize; make a commitment to change hurtful behaviors.


From Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict, Yale University Press, Donna Hicks

Copyright © 2011 by Donna Hicks. All rights reserved.

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