Women in conversation

Facilitating Inclusive Conversations

Women in conversation

We all know exactly how it feels to be excluded. If we are to avoid making people feel like this we have so many challenges to overcome; some are seen, others unseen – we lift the lid on this important topic.

What do we want to be better at:

  • building our knowledge base
  • consider how to develop tools/strategies for more inclusivity
  • creating a more inclusive working environment
  • encouraging participation for all my team
  • ensuring everyones view is heard and respected – not just the ones who shout loudest
  • reflecting on whether I am really inclusive in my communication and actions

Inclusivity:

“the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.”

Diversity:

“the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”

“Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Verna Myers – American Activist

Listening + Vulnerability = Trust

Listening

How much attention do we really give to listening to the other person in our conversations? If we are thinking about what we want to say next then we are not listening to anyone other than ourselves

Vulnerability

How vulnerable are we prepared to be? What difficult questions might we have? Can we start from the point of saying “I really don’t know?” When is it right to be vulnerable, and when is it not?

Trust

Inclusivity without Trust?  – it is at the basis of all relationships, it can take years to build and seconds to destroy. Use the Trust Equation to assess your own trustworthiness, and consider how much you trust others.

Recommended Reading & Listening

Further recommended reading with Tamsin HartleyThe Listening Space

Check out what the world authority on vulnerability Brene Brown in her TED talk

Further recommended reading with Patrick Lencioni – The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Four Inclusivity Essentials

Intentions, Impact, Blame, Feelings and Our Identity

In any conversation our intentions are only visible to us, and we make assumptions about others intentions toward us, and we often decide that they are bad. Even if we have good intentions, it doesn’t mean they might not have a bad impact on someone.

When we throw all of this into the mix, and we add our ability to find fault in others by apportioning blame things can start to get out of hand. We turn our attention toward our feelings, and we begin to question how we see ourselves. In short, before during and after a conversation we ask: what am I saying to myself about me?

All this can happen in seconds; we think that we are good at predicting, but in fact we are terrible at it. We assume wrongly, blame too easily, feel too quickly, and throw too many darts at ourselves. What is going on here?

Biases

To have biases is to be human. The society we grow up in influences our biases. You might not want to confront them, and you may not agree with them, but they’re most likely present. Few people — if any — grow up without absorbing some societal prejudices. Identifying bias in yourself doesn’t make you a bad person. Instead, it serves as a reminder of how pervasive social conditioning can be.

Biases can be conscious and unconscious – find out how they differ, what types of biases we tend to have, and what we can do to recognise them.

Knowledge

Where do we go to improve our knowledge about being more inclusive?

What sort of activities could we engage in to improve our knowledge about being more inclusive?

Example

Do you know why people use pronouns in their correspondence? Does everyone use it? Is it a free choice in your organisation?

Using your pronouns in signatures and social media biographies tells everyone that you are not going to assume their gender.

It is an important move towards real inclusivity in the workplace and wider society. It creates a healthier, safe space so everyone can bring their ‘whole self’ to work and be respected for it.

A second benefit in using pronouns is that it helps avoid getting someone’s gender wrong. People with names like Alex…..

A final benefit is to support your trans and non-binary workmates and friends by reducing some of the burden on them to continuously explain their identity.

If we always want to be right, it intensifies because we don’t want to hear anything different other than what we think

Check out this article: Why we should all start using pronouns

Language

We tend to use language that is judgemental, right, wrong, good, bad and therefore evaluative. Of course there are many times that this is appropriate, yet there are plenty of occasions when more descriptive language would be more appropriate, and less critical.

You remember the school report. There is little anyone can do with: “Good,” or “Poor,” perhaps a little better with “must try harder.”

How About This?

“Sally starts well, all her essays are neatly written and concise, however the quality always tends to drop towards the end of the piece of work, if she could maintain consistency through the whole of her work she would receive improved grades from average to excellent.”

Sally has somewhere to go with this, she can improve, and its clear what she needs to do, and she knows what the result of her efforts will be.

  • Action: What situations can you think of where this would be advantageous to use more descriptive language in an Inclusive Conversation?

Action: What other instances do we need to be better at it in terms of inclusion? Is it a two – way street?

Self Awareness

Awareness is knowing what is happening around you.

Self-Awareness is knowing what you are experiencing.

Everything in this article has been leading to this……

To improve our conversational styles and approaches, we need to be able to step back and reflect on who we are, and what we bring to the table or conversation.

We need to reflect on our experiences – how we reacted, what ‘baggage’ we brought to the conversation, factors that can affect our our temperament, mood, body language and reactions at the time.

Factors such a those that we’ve discussed so far, like our biases, terminology used, our assumptions, our views … ‘being right’ – you know that expression, s/he would argue that black is white’!  Our ‘life’s’ influences heavily impact how we approach things.

We need to reflect on how all these may affect the other person/people too. How did my contributions and approach impact on my colleague? How must they be feeling? Did I actually ‘care’ about the outcome on them?

How often do we do that? How often do we sit back and think, “Gosh, I didn’t handle that very well. What must ‘so-and-so’ think of me? If I was in his/her shoes, what on earth would they be saying about me to others?

Useful Questions To Ask Yourself

Perspective taking capability

  • When are you good at seeing the bigger picture?
  • Can you see other people’s truth not just your own?
  • Do you think of what others may be feeling before you act?

Mindfulness

  • How often are you present in meetings?
  • Do you react rather than act?
  • Do you give people your full attention?

Positivity

  • How often do you do things you are really passionate about outside of work? Do your team see this passion?
  • How do you use reward and recognition?
  • Remember stress is the enemy of positivity

Purpose

  • Get clear on your ‘why’
  • How can you align your why with that of the universities?
  • How can you build a collective purpose within your team?

Five Key Principles To Facilitating Inclusive Conversations

Compassion

#1 Which involves adapting a stance towards others and yourself in which you temporarily suspend judgement

Am I being compassionate toward myself and the others with whom I’m talking?

Curiosity

#2 Curiosity about others views enables you to continue a productive conversation and learn how your ideas and others can be integrated.

I have some information, others may have different information. Differences are opportunities for learning.

Am I staying open and curious? What is it I want to learn. Know, or question?

Transparency

#3 Am I sharing what I am really thinking?

Am I modelling the transparent way we want to work together?

Commitment

#4 Am I committed to being here and doing this work with those present? How am I showing that?

Am I working with those present in ways that help them find their own answers rather than telling them what to do?

Accountability

#5 Am I holding myself accountable for my contributions to this encounter? Am I doing anything that others could and should do for themselves? Am I working in ways that decrease dependency on me in the long run?

Am I holding others fully accountable for their choices?