Ricardo Gonzalez: to belong or not to belong (#39)

We all know what it feels like to be left out, excluded, to not belong. It’s a very painful experience. In a world that is getting ever more diverse and, at times, ever more divisive, this experience of not belonging is becoming more commonplace. How can we navigate this? More importantly, how can we create a culture where people feel like they do belong?

To talk about this topic of belonging we’ve invited back Ricardo Gonzalez who we had on the podcast over a year ago in episode 8. In that episode our conversation focused on cultural mastery and improving cross-cultural communication. In this episode we talk about belonging and its benefits, challenges, pain and opportunities.

Ricardo is the founder and CEO of Bilingual America, an international cultural communications institute.  He is an author, public speaker, and trusted advisor to organizational leaders.  He has written a number of books, including The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery, The 6 Stages of Cultural Sales, and The 12 Hidden Truths to Learning Spanish. His next book, which is the main topic of today’s conversation, is due for release soon and is called “To Belong or Not to Belong – Real Talk on Creating a Culture Where People Long to Be”.  

We hope you enjoy this meaningful conversation with Ricardo Gonzalez.

You can connect with Ricardo via LinkedIn or his websites: https://culturalmastery.com or https://bilingualamerica.com.

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Simplecast.

Show Notes

2:40 – what attracted Ricardo to the topic of belonging.
4:06 – Diversity and inclusion should have its foundation on belonging.
5:52 – why belonging is more powerful than inclusion.
7:46 – diversity and belonging.
8:44 – what constitutes a culture?
9:20 – cognitive diversity.
9:41 – should all people to all groups?
10:41 – why a team needs a strong culture
11:45 – can’t we choose to which groups we want to belong?
12:49 – to belong or not to belong.
14:01 – I did not belong at my own house party.
16:58 – we can’t belong if we have different beliefs and values.
17:42 – diversity vs team fit.
19:40 – company culture statement.
23:26 – high context vs low context cultures.
27:01 – why leaders need to be more high context.
28:00 – caught in-between cultures.
33:03 – how to find a place where you belong.
36:39 – people are attracted to people like themselves.
37:19 – belonging vs fitting in.
38:41 – lack of integration has been demonised.
41:14 – being unfairly rejected by the group where you thought you belonged.
47:40 – ex-communication and cancel culture.
48:37 – root of ex-communication is that leaders value results over people.
49:06 – empathy vs sympathy vs compassion.
50:27 – how to regroup after you’ve been hurt.
53:35 – the link between belonging and performance.
57:30 – making people feel like they belong in order to use them.
58:18 – about the book: To belong or not to belong.
01:00:02 – connect with Ricardo.

Links to References

IQEQ and CQ 


Cultural Mastery Assessment 

Ghandi (referenced as an example of someone with extra-ordinary character) 

Adrian Bazemore: “The key for me is holding my own culture lightly enough that I can actually be open to another one” 

Woke Movement 

Church Inquisitions 

Harvard article- the value of belonging at Work 

Books discussed: 

The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery: A Roadmap for Leaders in a Culturally Complex World by Ricardo Gonzalez 

The 6 Stages of Cultural Sales: A Roadmap to Attract and Retain Diverse Clients in a Culturally Diverse World by Ricardo Gonzalez

Influence by Robert Caldini

Key Quotes

“Many countries are much more diverse than the USA, like India.” 

“Belonging should be the foundation of the D, E, I and B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) movement.” 

“Belonging is so personal in nature.” 

“We want ethnic and racial diversity but we are not so keen on cognitive diversity.” 

“Should all people belong to all groups? And the answer is no.” 

“In an organization we say we want to be one but we create all these so subcultures like employee resources groups. If you don’t have one macro culture above this then your organization is weak.” 

“People think: let me be me and don’t always try to change me.” 

“There are people who belong to groups and communities but inside they are dying.” 

“Not everyone should feel like they belong together. Belonging is deeply personal.” 

“Not everyone is a fit for every team and not every team is a fit for everyone.” 

“Colour is a superficial and culture is something deep.” 

“Companies have vision and mission statements but not culture statements.” 

“If a company believes that all people should have a voice then at meetings all people should have equal time.” 

“In Latino culture people are late. They value the relationship over the result.” 

“Leadership of the culture needs to be clear on results versus relationship importance.” 

“People feel like they don’t belong because they didn’t have a choice in defining the culture.” 

“Leaders must learn to be more high context. Less results driven more empathetic.” 

“We struggle with two things. 1) who do I think I am? 2) who do others think I am?” 

“Bicultural people have special challenges when it comes to belonging.” 

“People will look at the same thing but not see the same thing.” 

“You can’t be someone that you are not.” 

“People are trying to create organization that are more on the cognitive diverse side and that is a good thing.” 

“You feel like you belong with people when you align with beliefs, norms, values, symbols.” 

“The ten happiest countries in the world are not very multicultural.” 

“We have made it feel like it is wrong for the same people to congregate together.” 

“People view monogynous groups negatively as they want to have power over other groups.” 

“There are times when we want to belong to a particular group but the pain is too great.” 

“What do you do for and with people who are coming out of pain or whose trust has been broken.” 

“Excommunication, it means no communication with you.” 

“Most leaders value results over people, they don’t really know their people. They talk about empathy and compassion but it has to be toward someone you know.” 

“Sympathy is I feel bad for you. Compassion is I feel bad with you. Empathy is I have compassion with you and for you.” 

“Belonging is not going to be policied in but brought in by people.” 

“To heal, you have to heal with other people.” 

“Initially we have hurt. Hurt will turn to anger. Anger can turn to bitterness. You have to regroup with another group that is safe. You have to find them.” 

“People are struggling with identity.” 

“Will leaders make people feel like they belong so that they can get results or because they actually want them to belong?” 

“Most people live lives of quiet desperation.” 

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.