The Social Identity Wheel

How do you describe yourself? What parts of your identity do you choose to include, and which do you miss out? More than likely, your answer depends on the context – you may answer differently on a dating app than in a job interview, both of which are very different from how you think about yourself internally. Of course, a one-sentence description does not accurately represent who you are. Identities are complex, nuanced, and multi-faceted. And sometimes we don’t even think about the aspects of our identity that affect us the most.

In our workshops and webinars with clients, we use the Social Identity Wheel as a lens for us to better understand aspects of our own identity – both visible and invisible – that impact who we are, where we experience privilege, and where we face oppression. This is a powerful framework which brings awareness to and shines a light on your own blind spots.

This week, you may want to take some time to engage with the Social Identity Wheel, downloadable here. Using the wheel, reflect on how you would describe yourself in each of the categories listed. Then use the question prompts on the handout to reflect on your experience – questions like “Which parts of your identity do you think about least often?”, “Which pieces of your identity intersect with each other in challenging ways?”, “How would the people you choose to spend time with describe themselves in these categories? How much does that overlap with how you describe yourself?” and “What part(s) of your identity bring you the most pride?”

Then consider how this might be useful to your team as you go through your week.

This Week’s Tips:

  1. Reflect on – and, if appropriate, share – what you learn about yourself in your interactions with your team. Consider the ways that the identities of those on your team are the same and different from your own. Look for perspectives that differ from your own on questions the team faces.
  2. Is there a particular section on the wheel that resonates strongly with you? If so, what steps could you take to welcome people in your workplace regardless of how they would describe themselves in that category?
  3. Consider using the Social Identity Wheel in a facilitated workshop with your team. This can be an eye-opening and transformative exercise for a team to go through when facilitated. Building Bridges Leadership is available to work with your team. Contact us to discuss bringing this to an online meeting with your team.

As you reflect on the Social Identity Wheel, let us know how it goes in our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you!

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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