“If diversity is being invited to the party, then inclusion is being asked to dance.” -  former VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, Verna Myers

The Clean Communication (CC) framework is one way of welcoming people to the dance floor – learn how to apply them to promote inclusion at your workplace.

Reflect on your own behaviors

Start with the Stages of Awareness to reflect on where you are in your personal journey. How often do you focus on what’s going on inside ("What am I feeling? What am I experiencing?") and how much do you bring that self-awareness to the world? 

Some questions to consider: 
  • Do you tend to dominate discussions at work, inadvertently leaving out a colleague (or two)? 
  • How can you leave space for others’ perspectives, encourage their input, and ensure they have equal opportunity to contribute? 

Small things matter

Facing a conflict at work? Use the Navigating Conflict in a Productive Way protocol. One thing you’ll notice might seem small: “I statements.” What are they? And why would you use them? 

  • Instead of “You walked right out of that meeting!” 
  • Say, “I saw you leave before the meeting was over,” which could move to, “Can you tell me why?”  

“I” statements give you the opportunity to own your experience. For instance, your colleague may have returned to the meeting without your noticing. Or perhaps it happened exactly as you thought it did. By owning your “I” you’re less likely to elicit defensiveness. 

What would this look like in the conflict protocol? Let’s say a key player on a project you’re running keeps falling behind on deadlines and told you it’s because the deadlines are unrealistic. Here’s how that could go: 

First you’ll want to let someone know what you’re up to.

“I’d like to have a conversation about our project – is now a good time?” 

If they say yes, continue setting the stage. 

“I want to share how I’m feeling and what would be really helpful for me is if you can listen and then tell me what you’re hearing me say. Does that work for you?” 

Green light! Just remember to pause so they can echo back to you: 

“When I heard you say the deadlines were unreasonable, I felt frustrated because I have a need for clarity and partnership in the project we’re working on. And the way I’d like that to look is that if I set forward a deadline and you think that’s unreasonable, you propose a deadline you can agree to. Is that something you’re up for?”

Find out what you two can agree to. Once you’ve been heard, you can make space to hear your colleague using the same protocol, assuming they’re open to that. Or simply try to hear them wherever they’re at. 

Choose your words wisely

How often do you think you're making an observation, but really it's a judgment? It’s always easier to see this in others, and children can be super helpful to observe, since opinions reign supreme. Refresh your understanding by reviewing Observations vs Judgments. Why might you do that?  To live in a space of curiosity and to avoid unintentionally criticizing your colleagues.

  • Instead of "You always make mistakes," you can say "I noticed that there were errors in this report." 
  • Instead of "You never contribute in meetings" or "You're always late," try saying "I noticed that you haven't shared your thoughts in the past few meetings" and "I observed that you arrived after our scheduled start time this morning."

Acknowledge and consider new ideas 

Remember this: Just because you’re listening doesn’t mean you agree. To warm up your listening muscle, use the Active Listening framework to fully engage with others' perspectives and input. Instead of responding to a statement with an opinion, feeling, or suggestion, seek understanding. We miss this step so much of the time, often to our detriment.

  • Your colleague says: "I feel frustrated because I don't receive enough feedback on my work, and it's difficult for me to gauge my progress and areas for improvement." 
  • You say:  "I’m hearing you speak to a kind of disorientation — like you can’t locate yourself because you’re not sure where you are on the progress bar. Is that true?” 

Now you’re opening the door to a deeper understanding. It’s up to both of you to decide what to do with what you learn, but if you never hear it in the first place, the opportunity to learn is lost.