Stage 1: Inclusion Safety

Do I Feel Included?

What is Inclusion Safety?
Inclusion safety satisfies the basic human need to connect and belong. Whether at work, school, home, or in other social settings, everyone wants to be accepted. In fact, the need to be accepted precedes the need to be heard.
When others invite us into their society, we develop a sense of shared identity and a conviction that we matter. Inclusion safety allows us to gain membership within a social unit and interact with its members without fear of rejection, embarrassment, or punishment, boosting confidence, resilience, and independence.
What if you’re deprived of that basic acceptance and validation as a human being? In short, it’s debilitating. It activates the pain centers of the brain. Granting inclusion safety to another person is a moral imperative. Indeed, only the threat of harm can excuse us from this responsibility.
Inclusion Safety at a Glance
Definition of Respect
Definition of Permission
Social Exchange
Inclusion Safety
Respect for the individual's humanity.
Permission for the individual to enter your personal society.
Inclusion in exchange for human status and the absence of harm.

Inclusion Safety is a Human Right

Inclusion safety is not earned but owed. Every human has title to it as a nonnegotiable right. We hunger for and deserve dignity and esteem from each other. If there’s no threat of harm, we should give it without a value judgement. 

As the basic glue of human society, inclusion safety offers the comforting assurance that you matter. If you’re a leader and want your people to perform, you must internalize the universal truth that people want, need, and deserve validation. 

Inclusion safety requires that we condemn negative bias, arbitrary distinction, or destructive prejudice that refuses to acknowledge our equal worth and the obligation of equal treatment.

Inclusion Safety Unlocks
the Power of Diversity

Diversity is a matter of makeup and composition, whereas inclusion is a matter of belief and behavior. Diversity produces nothing and blesses no one unless its power can be unleashed. How does that happen? It happens through inclusion. 

Inclusion activates and releases the power of diversity. Unfortunately, many organizations that have made great strides to create a more diverse employee population congratulate themselves, but they are no more inclusive than they were before. What can they do? They need psychological safety.

Eliminate Junk Theories of Superiority 

Why do humans exclude each other? Insecurity, arrogance, greed, fear? Yes, but here’s another reason: Because that’s what we’ve been taught. People usually believe what they’re taught. It’s called acquired socialization.

Here’s a second question:
How do humans justify excluding each other? What criteria do we use? Race, age, gender, religion, culture, socio-economic status, political ideology, tribe, ancestry, geography . . . The list is very long. Are these legitimate factors? No, but we use them anyway to create junk theories of superiority. Nothing new.

When we use junk theories to create and perpetuate divisions and rationalize exclusionary behavior, we apply a worthiness test rather than a worth test to each other. If we turn that around and apply a worth test instead of a worthiness test, we have the stunning opportunity to create a deeply inclusive culture.

Do You Practice Inclusion?

It’s time to take a step back and look at your own life. Ask yourself these questions and evaluate how you are doing in putting Inclusion Safety into practice. 
  • Do you treat people that you consider of lower status differently than those of higher status? If so, why?
  • How do you acknowledge and show sensitivity and appreciation for the cultural differences that exist on your team?
  • Do you feel superior to other people? If so, why?
  • Is the moral principle of inclusion a convenient or inconvenient truth for you?
  • What conscious bias do you have
  • Where do you exercise soft forms of exclusion to maintain barriers?
  • What individual or group are you having a hard time including even if they are doing you no real harm? Why?

Concrete Behaviors That Create Inclusion Safety at Work

It’s not enough to understand inclusion safety; you must put concrete behaviors into practice. These behaviors are examples of how you can increase inclusion safety. You’ll notice those behaviors which ask, listen, invite, and share will help individuals feel included. 
1. Teach inclusion as human need and right.
Teach your team members to approach each other with the understanding that we all have a human need to be included and we’re entitled to it. It’s a human right. We long to belong and we deserve to belong. In that connecting process we exchange emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual value. Inclusion isn’t something we earn; its’ something we’re owed. We are hyper-social creatures who need each other.
2. Introduce yourself at the first opportunity.
Be proactive to introduce yourself to those who are new or you don’t know. Most people are shy and reluctant to take the first step. If you do it, they feel a sense of relief. Once you break the ice and display warmth and acceptance, a sense of inclusion forms rapidly.
3. Learn peoples’ names and how to pronounce them.
Nothing is more personal than a name. When a new person joins the team, learn his or her name immediately. If you don’t know how to pronounce it, ask.
4. Physically face people.
Nothing communicates validation more powerfully than when you turn to face directly the person with whom you’re talking with upright and forward posture. Finally, look them in the eyes. This applies when you are speaking as well as when you are listening.
5. Listen and pause.
Listen with intent to comprehend rather than the intent to respond. Do this by listening, pausing to reflect, and then responding thoughtfully. Have you ever been talking to someone and you can tell that they’re simply waiting for you to finish your sentence so they can jump in? That’s not always a problem, but if that’s the pattern, it does become a problem.
6. Ask twice as much as you tell..
Teach your team members to approach each other with the understanding that we all have a human need to be included and we’re entitled to it. It’s a human right. We long to belong and we deserve to belong. In that connecting process we exchange emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual value. Inclusion isn’t something we earn; its’ something we’re owed. We are hyper-social creatures who need each other.
7. Meet a person in their physical space.
Don’t make them come to you. This sends a clear message that you value them, their time, and their input because you are extending yourself on their behalf. It’s a gesture of respect and people appreciate it. And you’ll notice that people feel more comfortable to engage in their own space. Chances are that you’ll have a higher quality interaction--both intellectually and emotionally--if you meet them in their personal space.
8. Conduct hop on, hop off tours.
Have you visited a big city and done a hop on/hop off tour on one of those buses? Apply the same practice when someone joins your team or organization. Formally assign a member of your team to be that person’s personal guide. Have the personal guide conduct social tours during the first week to accelerate relationship-building. The personal guide can do short, 10 minute hop on/hop off tours around the office. Ensure that those interactions are meaningful enough to move the relationship beyond the acquaintance stage. Don’t accept the normal pace of building a social network. You can double, triple, or quadruple the pace at which that would happen on its own.
9. Move to mutual discovery quickly.
Ask your team members questions to discover their personal interests and find common ground. This is a natural bond-building skill that you can practice and improve. In fact, you may even want to write down some questions to ask before you engage in a conversation. Once you move out of the obligatory and perfunctory mode of social exchange into mutual discovery, the relationship building accelerates. Don’t probe into personal or sensitive topics. Just ask some natural questions about background and interests.
When we compare and compete with each other, we lose the ability to connect. As a leader, focus your efforts on making meaningful connections with your team members. Identify and recognize the strengths, talents, and abilities of each person and point them out. Avoid the temptation to be jealous or resentful about the strengths of others, especially when they are strengths you may not possess. In fact, if you can rejoice in the strengths of your team members, you become a more genuine and authentic leader and the connections you make become deeper and more real.
10. Avoid comparisons and competitions.

LeaderFactor Webinars on Inclusion