Recently, I had a conversation with young woman from the United Kingdom. She asked me about the stickers I use for my Network Beyond Bias program. The stickers look like name tags. They say “Hello! I feel included when…”
Usually toward the end of my programs, I prompt the audience to ask one another, “How can I help you feel included?” or “When do you feel included?”
This is something that gets lost in our day-to-day work. It’s very rare for a manager to ask this question when someone new joins their team. It’s a simple question. How can I help you feel included? What makes you feel included? This question has tremendous power because it helps you understand very quickly how to show respect and appreciation for another human being.
If you’re a leader, whether you have a management title or not, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the people around you feel welcome and feel included.
This prompt, “I feel included when…” is one to which people respond all sorts of ways. Some people feel included when someone asks their opinion. Sometimes I’ll have people say to me, “I feel included when I get invited out for happy hour.” And usually I ask, “Do you go?” And they say “Never, but I want to be invited.”
Sometimes I have people say they feel included when there’s clear communication. Or when they’re involved in important decisions that affect them. Some people feel included when you ask to see pictures of their children. For others, it’s when you don’t mention their families. For each person it’s different. It’s important because when we have different dynamics on teams, we often talk about treating everybody the same. Instead, we need to realize everyone wants to be treated a little bit differently.
Rethinking the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule says we should treat others as you want to be treated. The Platinum Rule, on the other hand, implores us to treat others the way they want to be treated. That’s an important distinction. If I want to be invited to happy hour and someone else doesn’t want to be invited, you might invite us both to treat us the same. However, you may have made someone else feel excluded by extending the invitation. On the flip side of that, if you ask me about my family, I feel very included. When someone else does not want to discuss their family, you’ve inadvertently created a trust gap between you and that person.
It’s important to get down to the heart of what makes each person feel valued and what makes each person feel special.
When Do YOU Feel Included?
So tell me, what makes you feel included? It may be something simple like people pronounce your name correctly. Or it may be something a little bit deeper and more complex. Either is okay.
The idea here is that we get to know each other a little better. When we show an effort to respect each other right from the beginning, it can make all the difference in the relationships that we build with each other.
After you’ve thought about this for yourself, go to work. Ask your team members, ask your boss, ask the newest person in your department, the people that report to you. “How can I help you feel included?” And then see if you can’t do that thing.
Let me know what you learn!
TL;DR? Here’s the video version: