How Can You be Inclusive? Our Top Tips!
In our previous blog, we went over what inclusivity is and why it matters. Now that we’ve gone through it, we wanted to talk about how you can become more inclusive. What can you start to do in your everyday life? Now we know that being inclusive has massive benefits for business and education, so being inclusive in your everyday life should add to that. We’re here to give you our top tips on how to be inclusive, especially during pride month!
Have mindful communication
Communication is great to start with, it can be easy to open up new avenues for conversation. Often, the words we use can express bad or wrong intentions, or even cause misunderstandings and miscommunication if used improperly.
You can improve your mindfulness skills by practising them. Be careful in the way you say things, what you say, and how you direct them. This is something you can work on daily. However, the work never stops as it’s something that should be continuous. As doing this takes intention, it doesn’t just happen naturally.
Be patient, you should always try and listen to others. Allow them to speak freely and express themselves. Respecting the time of the other person is important too, give them your full attention by being present in the conversation, as well as not over-talking or interrupting them. Think about your approach as well, if someone is uncomfortable with certain things then be mindful of those topics. Especially when it comes to pronouns let people introduce themselves and work from there, try to not misgender them when in conversation. If you’re not sure, ask. It starts the conversation of it being an open and safe space.
Try and avoid assertive language, it can come across as lecturing. No one enjoys being lectured. Sometimes this can be hard, but being mindful of language can help you with this. You could use phrases like, ‘in my opinion, ‘based on what I’ve read’ or ‘according to my experience’. Keep the discussion open to questions and comments, and encourage people to join in.
There are many factors that can impact the way we interact with others. This could be unconscious biases, prejudices or lack of information. The value systems we’re exposed to and taught by our family, friends, and schools often shape our values. As a result of these, we may not respond and act in a way that includes everyone. We all know the saying, that those first impressions are important. But be mindful of the bias that may be ingrained in your first impression. It’s easy to say don’t judge but that’s what you have to do.
These are the most common mistakes that we make in everyday life and interactions. Although assumptions may be developed unconsciously, it’s important to try and recognise them the moment they happen. It’s important that you avoid assumptions about the gender of the person or groups you are speaking with. You could always try and use gender-inclusive language to make everyone feel included. If you’re not sure about a person’s pronouns try to not make assumptions first, ask what they want to be called by. Asking is a sign of care and a way to give the person space to feel comfortable sharing their identity with you.
Try and be sensitive to pronouns, it may be difficult at first to get it right but persevere. It’s okay to ask. If you’re not sure about a person’s pronouns, ask them and make sure you use them every time. To start small try and put your pronouns in your email signature. This is a small but important step, as it shows that you’re aware of preferred pronouns and that you have respect for them, it gets the conversation started about a broader subject. You can also do this on LinkedIn.
By doing this you start to lead an example for everyone around you, by showing acceptance in a small way, as quite a lot of gender-fluid or non-binary people are afraid to use their pronouns. If a colleague is misgendering or avoiding using the right pronouns for someone, tell them. Correct them every time they do it, so it shows that you also care about getting them right. Now mistakes will happen but correction is the right way to go. Apologise, reword the sentence you just said but with the correct pronouns and move on.
Ask yourself the right questions
As we’ve touched on in the previous points, one of the most important things to do is ask questions. Asking questions helps the process of awareness and discovery, but it’s important to ask the right questions. The questions may be uncomfortable but they are necessary to educate yourself.
You can ask yourself: How much do I know about unfamiliar things? Am I informed or educated enough on the topic? Is the language I’m using giving space for everyone to participate in the conversation? These questions have to start going beyond our normal. Pause to question feelings of discomfort or defensiveness before reacting to new circumstances or diverse individuals. It’s important to think about why you might feel discomfort and what you can do to overcome it.
Be proactive in educating yourself
If you don’t know something, research it. Read some material on it, that’s the best way to become more aware of the issues you don’t know about. LinkedIn produces a great article every year around pride, where they amplify queer voices that people should be looking at. To get more in touch with the topic. This could also be as simple as doing a google search for gender identity or pronouns. Even this blog! We have to start becoming better allies to be more inclusive.
There are many ways you can do it, it doesn’t have to be reading, from Instagram accounts to youtube, there are many avenues to educating yourself. Maybe find yourself a podcast to listen to. It doesn’t matter what channel or avenue you use to educate yourself it just matters that you’re doing it in a proactive way. Doing your part by educating yourself proactively is a massive step to becoming inclusive and a supportive ally.
Don’t fear mistakes
As we touched on in the pronouns point, there will be mistakes. Don’t be afraid of them, they happen and as long as you recognise them and act on them for next time then you’re being proactive. Becoming inclusive is a process, not an objective to be achieved. You don’t stop being inclusive when you think you’ve reached the end. There will be more issues and problems that you need to constantly develop yourself.
It’s important that during the process of inclusion and educating yourself, you should be open and curious, as well as continue to look for opportunities to learn about topics. In this, you should also not be afraid of feedback. Feedback from those around us and our own reflections is a massive tool to help us teach ourselves to become more inclusive.