For the next three weeks, we’ll change it up a bit and have a three-part discussion on diversity and inclusion. This week well discuss inclusive communication!
Whether it’s in the workplace or in social settings, it’s important that we’re conscious of how we communicate to diverse audiences and understand that the things we do and say may be interpreted differently by different groups of people. For instance, if you were to make the “peace sign” backwards, did you know that’s virtually the same gesture as extending your middle finger for some people from the UK? Did you know that if you were to make a gesture, attempt to shake hands, or hand something with your left hand to people from certain nations, that may be construed as an insult?
While we may not be able to address every communication concern, it’s important that we do the best we can. In addition to making the time to look into the cultural norms, practices, and communications for the audiences we interact with, we should be conscious of “people-centric” language. People can often feel marginalized or dehumanized when their condition or trait becomes the major label defining them. For instance, instead of saying a “disabled person” say a “person with a disability.” Instead of “alcoholic” or “diabetic”, say “person with alcoholism” or “person with diabetes.” Also, do your best to use positive language; “person living in recovery” instead of “ex-addict,” “had a setback,” instead of “relapsed”. The more we make a concerted effort for positive and inclusive communication, the better we can productively interact with diverse audiences!