How inclusive are you in your interactions with others? Do you naturally attract people towards you? Would you like to do that better? Well, how well do you use “we” in your language?
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The Power of Being More Inclusive.
Think about the last time you felt aware of being “left out”. Whether in a work, leisure or home situation, it can feel very unpleasant, can’t it?
Conversely, think about how you felt when last you were empowered to act as you deem fit. Did it make you feel part of the success being sought? Did you feel the power of Belonging?
Now, feeling the power of that inclusivity, when last do you recall making someone in your team really feel being included?
Conversely, if you reflected on your usual leasership style (irrespective of whether you are a formal leader or not), would those around you label you as being more inclusive or far from it?
You see, what I’ve learned is that this is simply an awareness; an attitude, a choice, actually. One that we can make any or all the time or one that we can (choose to) forget any or all the time.
Superior Leadership and Communication Skills
Please think about someone that you admire for their superior leadership and communication skills. What do you think makes them so good at it? Have you noticed how often one of these strengths is their ability to truly focus and listen to you, in a way that seems like you’re the only person in the room with them?
Alternatively, think of a poor communicator or leader; one that doesn’t seem to care much for that. How often are they making as though they’re listening or interested but their eyes are bored or “working the room” behind you? A very different, unsupportive energy, isn’t it? Yet one that is quite prevalent, right?
Going back to the former, how inclusive did their great attention make you feel? How much more energized or willing are you to contribute to that conversation? And to the outcomes you are both striving for?
Being more inclusive inspires and motivates. It just works
The ability to make others around you feel more inclusive is a very influential skill. One that helps draw people towards you. One that helps you “win people over”. Irrespective of your personality.
More importantly, if you aren’t acknowledged for this being one of your strengths, it can be learned and developed. How? Mainly by enabling an awareness of it’s strength and a willingness to have a go and to practice, so you can see the improved results for yourself. And please be aware how big an influence this can have on the leaders you lead to emulate you, because they too have become aware of how well it works (for you).
Isn’t that what we need and want as leaders? To inspire those around us and those we lead to want to contribute and give their best? To motivate them by our vision and what success it promises to all of us involved?
How? Language and Awareness
You see, what I’ve learned is that most of us are too focused on ourselves and what we want.
The word “I” prevails. And in a frequent business transaction success sense, “I win / you lose” is unfortunately often the driver. That in a two party contest of “you” over “I“, one usually wins at the expense of the other. “You” and “I” are words also more often found in confrontation.
I’m known to unashamedly strive to finding “win / win” outcomes. In this scenario there is usually a more equal outcome between you (yours) and me (mine) in terms of expectations.
That’s where language comes in and where we prefer to use the term “we“.
Why? Well because it implies something in it for both of us, not just one of us, right?
Let me share 2 recent coaching examples.
In both cases my clients were trying to have a corrective influence on the boss, where they thought his inappropriate behavioural responses to certain situations were harming the boss, the division and hence also my client and their team.
They acknowledged how any direct (you or I) approach to try and rectify or influence the boss would probably have resulted in defensive behavior positions being taken. This required a more delicate, a more diplomatic, more tactful and sensitive and hence a more inclusive approach. We explored approaching it from the “we” perspective. Which implies we are in this together. As equals. Without sides or advantages or disadvantages.
Of course using questions are so much better than statements in such situations. Statements can more easily confront or threaten or invoke defensive responses. Questions can help tone down the severity, “do you know what I mean?” Statements are often “you” or “I” focused. That can still also be true for questions too, but what if we take the “you” or “I” out of it altogether and replace any reference or inference with “we”?
Can you see how that can help take the “taking sides” or the confrontation out out of it?
“We” makes the situation more inclusive. Makes the other party feel included, not rejected or threatened. Of course the right tone, gesture and posture (body language) play an additionally important part here.
So we came up with some phrases in the form of questions like:
- “We‘re wondering how we might help better align ourselves with your position on xyz…” or
- “We’ve heard some feedback that could suggest that… could that be a threat to us in respect of… do you think?” or
- “How might we give you confidence that we’re doing the right thing by xyz, so that you don’t need to burden yourself in that level of detail?” or
- “What might we be able to do to help (you) get the xyz initiative back on track…?”
In both cases we also established how carefully finding an ally (probably from a peer, either at our or the boss’ level) that can (safely and confidentially) support us in driving or influencing similar messages in parallel, would also deflect from the probability of the boss feeling threatened because of its supportive but nonetheless assertive intent and approach as I wrote in Arrogance Aggression and Assertiveness.
Being More Inclusive. So What?
Can you see how this can all come together? Can you sense the value the use of “we”can add to difficult situations? Can you feel how it avoids potential defensiveness? Can you hear how it can maintain support, even in trying circumstances?
And, can you get a feel for how inclusive this kind of language is in order to help win people over and keep them inclusive and onside? I sincerely hope so.