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Inclusion starts with Listening

Source | Linkedin | Shweta Kumar

In the last few months, quite a few organisational leaders, HR leaders that we speak to, have been telling us about the need for building inclusive cultures. Inclusion which is not just being invited to the party, but being asked for a dance, is a fundamental component of human engagement. We work for 10 to 12 hours a day, wanting to make a difference, wanting to be heard and wanting in.

Social scientists believe that we have evolved to become social creatures, seeking inclusion, because hanging around together dramatically improved the odds of our ancestors’ survival. Because the probability of our survival was so closely connected to the strength of our ties with others, it would make sense that we were, and are, especially sensitive to our social standing. If you’re with the ‘in-crowd,’ you’re in the cave when the nocturnal hunters are on the prowl. If you’re ‘out’, you may die. That’s why social rejection is so powerful. No surprise, then, that people are very badly affected when excluded. Study after study shows this. People who are socially excluded report lowered self-esteem, a reduced sense of meaning-in-life and high levels of stress. Also, people who are excluded become highly attentive to social cues.

A lot of organisations are beginning to recognise this and focus on assessing and creating strategies for working around conscious and unconscious biases. While this is important, I find that a more fundamental building block for inclusion, that is often missed – is around improving Capacity to Listen.

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