Us-FeelingMust-reads: Speaking and Being by Kübra Gümüşay
Must-reads: Speaking and Being by Kübra Gümüşay
Today, we would like to talk about a book that we find absolutely indispensable when it comes to strengthening society’s sense of community. We’re talking about “Sprache und Sein” (Speaking and Being) by German-Turkish author Kübra Gümüşay. In her book, Gümüşay draws attention to how language shapes thinking. She wants to find a new language in which everyone can find themselves. A language that does not reduce people to categories or render people invisible when they are considered as part of a group. A language that allows for diversity. A language that allows for communal thinking and a shared sense of community in a polarised world. Because as Kübra Gümüşay says: “Language can open doors and close them as well — all the same time.”
A Valeriana case study
The contact hypothesis doesn’t just work with people but also with animals. Early on, many of our employees kept their distance from our office dog ÉO or were a little bit afraid of her. When cultures and traditions teach people over generations that one should be afraid of dogs and that they are impure, negative images and prejudices can get deeply entrenched. We have witnessed live how many of our employees, through regular contact with ÉO, have taken her into their hearts, cuddled her, taken pictures with her and even used her for their profile pictures.
Fun fact: ÉO means dog in Ethiopian. Our employees Ubah and Sahra, who are originally from Ethiopia, laughed their heads off when they found out that we simply call our dog “dog”.
Every contact counts
The ÉO case study demonstrates the importance of personal contact and how it can trigger positive change in one’s perception and behaviour. According to the theory’s founder Allport, prejudices are best reduced when people in situations of personal contact also pursue common goals, interact with each other on equal terms and when this contact is also supported by authority figures.
This is exactly what we wanted to do with Valeriana. We want to make it possible for our employees and our customers to engage on equal terms and create opportunities for daily contact between both sides on a daily basis. Because we firmly believe that an inclusive and open society offers the best for all of us.
Would you like to dive deeper into the subject or learn more about prejudice? Then take a look here:
How compassion helps against prejudice
Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley.