Creating inclusive spaces and cultures is critical if we’re to build a world based on compassion.
Firstly because compassion is inherently equitable. It recognizes that we all suffer and we are all deserving of care, understanding, and support.
Secondly because compassion is focused on the alleviation of suffering. That suffering can come in many forms – from anxiety, depression, and stress through to systemic discrimination (which is in itself often a cause of the former). When we recognize that creating environments which feel safe and welcoming helps to relieve these points of suffering, we can see that compassion and inclusion go hand-in-hand.
So, how do we create environments of inclusion?
No matter where we are looking to promote inclusion, it’s important to learn about the views and experiences of different cultures and communities. This can help generate empathy and ensure we are abreast of possible issues or triggers for pain and upset.
Even the most well-read amongst us might make mistakes. We might say something we regret or use a term or phrase by accident which causes offense. The issue here is less about the incident itself but how you respond. Be humble, apologise, and commit to doing better.
Depending on the space you are operating in, it can be useful to have guidelines for conduct. The process of creating these can in itself be an exercise in inclusion. By inviting people to share their expectations on how they like to be treated you are showing that their feelings and concerns are valid.
Call it out
Sometimes you might be required to call-out instances of discrimination. If the person experiencing discrimination is present the first task is to offer them your support – ask how they are and what you can do to help. The second is to make clear to the person responsible that discrimination is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Spread the right vibes
Ultimately an awful lot can be done to promote inclusion simply through the way you act and speak. Ask people how they are, try to remember tit-bits about their lives, speak with a warm voice, smile when you can, and show that you are actively listening when they speak. Such behaviors are infectious and promote a sense of belonging.