When Do You Feel Included? [590 words]

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…”

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:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRvUTLXlr6Y[/embedyt]
Permission to Reprint

Permission to reprint articles by Amy C. Waninger is hereby given to all print, broadcast, and electronic media, provided that the contact information at the end of each article is included in your publication.

Organizations publishing articles electronically must include a live, clickable link within the body of the article to:


For print publications, please mail a copy of the publication to:

Lead at Any Level, LLC
11650 Olio Road
Suite 1000 #391
Fishers, IN 46037

Permission to reprint articles by Amy C. Waninger is granted at no charge with the agreement that:

  • The author’s full bio (see below) is included with each article.
  • One copy of the publication in which the article is published is provided to Lead at Any Level.
  • A fee of $300 per article will be expected for articles published without the closing bio and contact information. Contact info@leadatanylevel.com for an invoice and payment instructions.

Permission is also granted for reasonable:

  • Content editing and addition of industry-specific examples
  • Length
  • Change of article title

For reprint permissions of other Lead at Any Level authors, please email


Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at www.LeadAtAnyLevel.com

Also available for download: profile photos, extended bios by industry

3 responses to “When Do You Feel Included? [590 words]”
  1. […] The Grand Slam organization fined her $15,000 after her first violation. The rules, they said, “ensure all players are treated exactly the same.” Osaka ultimately withdrew from the French Open for her own health. Treating everyone “exactly the same” isn’t the same as being inclusive. […]

  2. […] out, to a person, what makes each of your employees feel included or excluded. Talk to everyone to learn what the trouble spots are, or bring in trained facilitators […]

  3. […] On ‘When Do You Feel Included?’ we emphasized the importance of the Platinum Rule – treating others the way they want to be treated. The definition of employee wellness differs from company to company. You will be able to understand your organization’s own interpretation of this if you simply ask your members. Pain Free Working has collated tips for employee wellness strategies from existing organizations, with one being the implementation of programs that team members specifically ask for. It’s important to get a general pulse of where everyone is at – how they have been managing and what they need to show up and perform better. The only way you will know what will work is to regularly conduct employee feedback through surveys and frequent check-ins. […]