Whether you are a devoted introvert or passionate extrovert (or somewhere in the middle), the fact is we humans are social animals.  We need each other and we need to feel seen, heard, and accepted in order to do our best work in business, at home, and in the world. Too often we stick to our own lanes and keep our heads down to deliver on our responsibilities and we don’t see who we are excluding in our thinking, conversations, and decision-making.

I invite you to change that. Let’s get intentional about who you include and why you include them. Rather than work on auto-pilot or do what has always be done, give a little more thought to who should be in your consideration set, who should be in the discussion, and who will be impacted by your decisions.  Use the tips below to learn how to use your words to create a more inclusive culture wherever you find yourself.

Look for the Language

The first step is to become aware of exclusionary behaviors. Are you continually booking those Zoom meetings with the same people? Are they the only voices who might have something to bring to the table? Consider who hasn’t been included, what they may contribute, and why they aren’t already in the conversation. Invite them to join in. Then listen to what they have to say.

Become a Model

Look for the “others” in your workplace. They may be the introverts, the women, the people of color, the technologically challenged, or any person or people who aren’t naturally included. Include them. When you ask for their input, when you respect their work and their differences you’re showing others what inclusion looks like. Sometimes having a role model on how to be more inclusive is all it takes for others to start moving in the same direction.

Advocate for Airtime

When one of the “others” starts to speak up and is cut off – advocate for them. By simply saying, “Wait a sec – I’d like to hear what Sarah was saying,” you’re making space for that voice and demonstrating that the person speaking is worthy of inclusion and respect. You can recommend that a frequently overlooked person come to a meeting, take a speaking role with a client, sit on a panel, or be brought in to a particular project. Advocating for others is a really effective – and often easy – way to exert your power for good.

Negotiate the Terms

If you happen to be in a leadership position, change the rules. By negotiating the terms of particular policies, tacit agreements, or expressed expectations, you can even the playing field. Now is an ideal time to revisit the rules – both formal and informal – as so many businesses are in upheaval because of COVID.

Don’t just look to survive, seek to thrive by making your business culture one of inclusion where everyone’s voice counts. Need help? Give us a call. We’re here to help with coaching, training, and consulting.

Talk to you next month,

Amber D. Nelson



Cover of Amber Nelson's book, "Talk to Me"

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