7 Ways to Be More Inclusive in Your Everyday Life

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

If Diversity is a fact, Inclusion is an action.

1 / Mindful communication: listen more, talk carefully

  • When addressing a group, avoid using gender-specific words such as “ladies”, “dudes”, “men”, “guys”. Especially in the presence of gender non-conforming or mixed gender individuals, appellations may turn out to be misplaced, cause missgendering, and cut off group members.
  • Listening is important. Do not interrupt. Don’t overtalk. Respect the time of the person in front of you, be attentive and sensitive to what interruption, over-talking and over-splaining may involve. To understand this concept better, it’s worth reading the following excerpt from the article “How White People Handle Diversity Training in the Workplace” by Robin DiAngelo:
  • Use the right pronouns. Not sure about the kind of person you are talking to? Ask which pronoun they prefer to be called. Asking is a sign of care for the person you are talking to and a way to give them the space to feel comfortable with their identity.
  • Avoid assertive language and words: Introduce your contribution with “In my opinion” or “According to my experience” or “Based on what I’ve read and learned”. Leave space for questions and replies, make sure you do not lecture when you get involved in a conversation.
  • Do not dismiss or disrespect other people’s contributions. Make sure to be welcoming and open to what they say,regardless of whether or not you are in agreement. By using “I see your point”, “It’s a new perspective to me”, “I understand what you mean, but…”, “I never thought about it that way”.
  • Avoid weird facial reactions. Making faces and expressing immediate feelings through your body language while interacting with others may freeze, discourage, or make your interlocutor uncomfortable. Make sure to remain neutral and think of how you can express agreement or disagreement by simply carrying on the conversation as mentioned above.

2 / Challenge stereotypes

  • What are my expectations of the other person?
  • Can I recognize stereotypical or unconsciously biased aspects in these expectations?
  • What is the goal of the meeting, confrontation, conversation?
  • What is a common interest?
  • What could be my limits in dealing with this situation?

3 / Avoid assumptions

Assumptions are a difficult starting point because they take for granted that our audience shares the same requirements and experiences as we do.

  • For example, it is important to avoid assumptions about the gender of the person or groups we are speaking with and always try to use gender inclusive language.
  • It is important to avoid assumptions about one person’s identity marks: sexual orientation, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, level of information and education.
  • You can challenge your immediate associations. E.g. Avoid questions like “where are you really from?” as it implies you are making assumptions about people’s origins or nationality.
    Avoid terms like boyfriend or girlfriend, and use the more inclusive term, partner, instead.
  • Avoid making comments about someone’s body or physical traits. Doing so may make people uncomfortable.
  • If you meet a group of people, do not assume there are couples within it. Do not assume familiar relationships or socio-economic backgrounds based on their accessories.
  • Do not assume everyone is equally healthy as you are. Consider disability as invisible as well.
  • If you meet a disabled person, do not assume what they are able or not able to do something.
  • Furthermore, it’s a good practice to avoid expressions like “As you all may know” or “As you all have experienced” or “As everyone knows” and similar.

4 / Ask yourself and others (the right) questions

Asking many questions helps in the process of awareness and discovery of the other, but it is also important to ask the right questions.

  • How much do I know about realities that are not similar to mine?
  • How might my positions and beliefs be limited and/or limiting when approaching those of others?
  • Am I informed or educated enough on a given topic?
  • Is my opinion required? How does my intervention contribute to the conversation?
  • By using my language, am I really giving space to everyone to participate in this conversation?
  • By using my body language, am I really giving the chance for everyone* to feel safe and comfortable in joining the conversation?

If you think that the questions to yourself do not lead to much, try to involve someone who, in your opinion, can help you.

5 / Be aware of your privileges

A privilege can be defined as “a right, license, or exemption from duty or liability granted as a special benefit, advantage, or favor” (“Diversity and Social Justice — A glossary of working definitions”).

Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge how this system of privileges works and also where we position ourselves within it.

6 / Be proactive in educating yourself on the topic

Don’t wait for the people affected by the problem to show you how to be better. Everyone is responsible for improving their own reality, everyone has the power to change things and learn how to make the world more livable and sustainable for everyone. Doing your part by educating yourself proactively is a fundamental step to becoming a supportive ally.

7 / Stay open, stay curious, and do not fear mistakes

However, it is important to remember that, as with every process, not everything comes immediately.

Margherita | FairForce is a Feminist-Informed transformation coaching and community strategy for purpose-driven humans and organizations

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Margherita | FairForce is a Feminist-Informed transformation coaching and community strategy for purpose-driven humans and organizations

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