Stereotype breaking actions are actions a person can take to prove they have stronger character than what is being assumed about them (International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict, 1998).
You can visit your detractors and be more reasonable, friendly, agreeable or helpful than they expect. When this happens, they are likely to revise their image at least a little bit, concluding that you are more reasonable than they thought you were. Many stereotype breaking actions are possible. You must simply determine what the other person or group thinks or expects of you. Then do the opposite. If you are expected to be closed to new ideas, express an interest. If you are expected to be selfish and aggressive, use your listening skills. Hear their concerns. This demonstrates your good will. The goal is simply to contradict the negative images people have of you and to begin to replace these negative images with more positive ones (International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict, 1998).
Establishing personal relationships with people at work, school or places where you may experience discrimination can go a long way toward breaking down inaccurate and hostile stereotypes. These relationships can also increase understanding. Through personal relationships, people come to see the “enemy” as a real, living, breathing, feeling, and caring person, not just an abstract, hostile or evil person. Once this change of attitude takes place, mutual understanding and trust can slowly be developed (International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict, 1998). The goal is to have people see you in a different light.
Storytelling is useful in reducing discrimination and prejudice. By telling your story in respectful and strength-based ways, people can decide for themselves what their real concerns are about you. By telling their stories, they can explore their inner feelings and fears. Storytelling lets people get to know each other better and understand why they feel the way they do. People will often say to themselves, Oh, I understand. That has happened to me too. Or, Yes, I can see how that would have made you feel that way. It makes people’s beliefs and ideas have more reality or validity. Storytelling is a way of opening people up, both to talk and to listen and to pave the way for improved communication and understanding (International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict, 1998).