How to make everyone feel included

Whether it be in a conversation, at the office, or at school, it is important to work towards emotionally including everybody. 

While this can seem daunting and challenging, it is completely worth it. A recent study found that “almost half of our population feel alone, and younger generations feel the most isolated.” If you want to make an immediate and important change in your community, inclusion is one of the most effective ways to do so.

We’re genetically wired to belong; it’s how we survive and thrive in life — and at work. This is especially important for minorities who often don’t feel included at the office. New research shows that fostering a sense of belonging helps reduce stress levels, and consequently improves physical health, emotional well-being, and performance.

Whether it’s a new team member or someone who seems out of the loop, here are four ways to make people feel included:

  • Make introductions. Don’t introduce people just by their title. Add tidbits that are unique to the individual and show that you appreciate them. Use language like: “This is Sara — she is part of our research team.” The word “our” really adds the feeling of being on a team.
  • Solicit input. Don’t expect everyone to show up and speak up. Invite people who you want to include, ask their opinion, and follow up with questions so they truly felt heard. 
  • Share stories. Stories show that you, as the storyteller, care enough about your audience’s career to show your own vulnerability and share your mistakes and successes. They also help people connect emotionally. 
  • Offer a sincere greeting. Making eye contact, saying “Hello” and making conversation goes a long way. The most important part, however, is that you listen and show a genuine interest.
  • Request their help solving a problem. Every person you work with has a skill or knowledge you don’t. Acknowledge that by reaching out to them for help.
  • Recognize their contributions. Tell them specifically what they do well, and how it contributes both to the team and the organization.

No one has built a solid foundation with a team of people who feel invisible. Ensuring that your team don’t feel overlooked, ignored or left out can propel not only your team’s internal success, but its external success, too.

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