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What Is Sensitivity Training?

Incidents of sexual harassment may be avoided when employees participate in sensitivity training.
Sensitivity training encourages respect among employees of different races and genders.
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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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Sensitivity training, also known as diversity training, is a type of program designed to help facilitate respect between groups that include people with different genders, religions, ages, races, or sexual orientations. The exact procedures can vary depending on the leader of the training, but typically involve lectures, discussions, and exercises to help participants understand and respect one another. The training can be implemented anywhere, but tends to be most common in workplaces and educational environments.

Discussion between participants is usually one of the main focuses of training. Sensitivity training often begins with an instructor asking participants to bring up any issues of concern that they face in the work or school environment. The instructor generally encourages participants to give their perspectives and work together as a team to come up with alternative ways to deal with conflicts and to better communicate with one another. Participants may also perform role-playing exercises, in which the instructor comes up with various conflict scenarios and has them act out the most effective ways to handle various situations with different types of people without tension.

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One of the main purposes of sensitivity training is to help people who come from different backgrounds communicate more effectively in order to help with teamwork and prevent misunderstandings. The program can guide participants to the realization of how their actions can potentially be misconstrued by people who have different beliefs or backgrounds. For example, a person may not realize his or her words or actions may be extremely offensive to a person of a different religion or gender, which can affect the ability for the two people to talk and work comfortably together.

Sensitivity training can also be implemented as a means to teach tolerance and prevent animosity if people in a professional environment have completely opposing lifestyles or beliefs. An instructor can provide information on how someone can handle the other person professionally and prevent personal beliefs from mistreating or causing arguments. Employers may have their employees engage in the training to help them professionally deal with customers and to prevent any legal actions due to employee behavior that comes across as intolerant or offensive.

If a person is accused of discrimination, he or she may engage in sensitivity training as a means of reform or punishment. One of the most common circumstances in which the training tends to be implemented is as a means to prevent sexual harassment. Both men and women may learn what constitutes as harassment and how to avoid it in the future.

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anon955221
Post 4

But will it do any good if the "sensitivity training" is offensive to the person's religion?

SauteePan
Post 3

I think that because our companies are becoming more diverse employee sensitivity training makes sense.

For example, although harassment training seems pretty obvious to most people, some people need the training to understand that they may be crossing a legal line that can cost the company a lot of money in legal fees.

It is important to understand disability sensitivity training because unless you are afflicted with a disability it is easy to forget what the person goes through day in and day out.

People afflicted with disabilities might require extra breaks in order to take medication. They also may not be able to stand for long periods of time.

The manager working with this individual has to be sensitive in order to ensure the company runs smoothly and the employee is happy and productive.

Bhutan
Post 2

Hugging and kissing on the cheek is how you receive people in the Latin culture. However, in an Asian culture this form of touching and kissing might offend people that are Asian because it is just not done.

Cultural sensitivity training is important especially if you are in the field of sales and travel extensively.

Understanding the culture of a group of people will go a long way in bonding with them and eventually selling to them.

cupcake15
Post 1

Diversity sensitivity training is a growing field in today’s society. Workplace sensitivity training might involve some cultural sensitivity training.

It will help the employees understand the difference between one culture and another which will limit the levels of complaints. For example, in the Latin American culture touching is very common, but other cultures might not like it.

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