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Building inclusion through meaningful dialogue

And just like that…

What seemed like the same recurring nightmare that would never end, 2020 just took a hard swipe left.

Left to racism. Left to racial inequality. Left to fake news. Left to unaccountability. Left to hate. Left to a divided nation.

You would hope that with a new year and new leadership things would change overnight, but lets be real, we all have some work to put in to get there. As a neighbor, a community, and a world – its time to do better.

I would say a good place to start is by practicing humankindness. If you’re thinking about how cute that sounds, and wondering “okay, already…” go ahead and watch the video below.

If you saw the video, there’s no doubt you’re heart is smiling. If not, come back later when you need a feel-good. But… the video ends asking, “How far would you go for someone?”

Here are four quick sections that share real life examples and tips to understand the power behind meaningful dialogue in the (virtual) workplace to impact inclusivity.

Things I have asked my virtual colleagues…

Early in the week I usually ask, “so, what did you do over the weekend that was different than other weekends?” I find that people are more likely to share when they reflect and compare how they spend their time. The goal here is to bring the whole person to the conversation, so that this same whole person can show up in the work they do, the way they do.

What are 3 things I could support you with this week? From personal commitments to professional development, learn about the whole person they are so that you can support where they are in their journey, in an authentic and intentional way.

If you could pick one emoji to describe how you #FEEL right now, what would it be? This is a favorite ice breaker I use often because for some reason, we humans in the 21st century are more inclined to share how we really feel when asked to select an emoji. Hmm wild!? Yes…but, I’m here for it!

Things my virtual colleagues don’t know…

I wake up every morning and have to start the day with a shower. So, this means whether it’s an early alarm at 3:30am or I sleep in until 5am I shower, get dressed and…some believe this is totally bizarre, but I put on shoes, tie them up, and wear them… All. Day. Long. This might seem quirky but this is actually what helps me separate sleeping in my bed and being home to now focus on work. Try it!

Another secret (shhhhh!), in the middle of the week, either Wednesday or Thursday, I usually wake up early with the urge to mix up the monotony of the week (aka leave my apartment), and I race to Starbucks to grab their first coffee when they open. This not only helps because the caffeine (grande Nitro splash of almond milk, k thx) but it’s so damn nice to listen to morning radio, pretend I’m commuting, and ensure I leave my four walls for the day.

There was also a time, much simpler, where we knew when to step in and be there, be human. A few months back, I received a sudden call from my mom and with only 6 minutes before my next conference call, I answered… I answered to tears and her sharing a loved one had passed away… hmm, WOW. I felt shock. I felt sorrow. I felt sadness. I felt helpless. Helpless that I couldn’t hug her. Helpless that the right words didn’t come to mind. And helpless as I fought back tears to keep it together for a presentation I had to deliver in 5-4-3-2-1…

Things I have learned…

Let’s talk lessons learned, starting with leadership.

So, this past weekend I was listening to YouTube (it was laundry day) and I landed on Simon Sinek’s “Understanding Empathy” keynote. He started speaking how leaders are often focused on their status and their position and forget their real job. Their real job is not actually being in charge, but it's about taking care of those in our charge.

It’s never right to feel like you are in the deep end, struggling and gasping for air, as there’s a life jacket laying next to someone you are supposed to trust. And, let's be real. We are all at different stages of learners at different times in our lives. We have all been there. But I will say, more importantly, remember that there are more people/ leaders/ coaches that you will meet and work with who embody servant leadership. These are leaders who prioritize humankindness and understand the importance of inclusivity. Recognizing the person you need to be for someone, is understanding creating distance may be easier but the ability to learn a different perspective and take a different route pays off in the end. This also reminds me of an all-time, top 10, favorite quote…

I’ve also learned, in many different stages in life, there will always be more to do. More to study. More to love. More to learn. More to work. However, burnout in all of those things is REAL-REAL. Focus on transparently communicating before you reach that feeling. Before you reach burnout. Speaking up before you reach your limit is critical. This is critical in preserving your mental health. WHY?! Simply because the #LimitDoesExist and you deserve it. A stable leader will always champion your work life balance and your well-being.

Regardless of what you accomplish each day, make sure it starts with a smile. Tomorrow could be just like today, yesterday, the day before, and 12 months before… and, you can’t always control what comes your way. However, my favorite thing to do in the morning is find a reason to smile.

Smile big. Smile for no reason. Smile because your favorite song is on. Smile because tonight is #ShondaLand. Smile because you have coffee. And… smile because you have a 10-hour marathon of conference calls – and you are going to knock it out of the park!


Things we can all do for each other, TODAY!

It can be difficult to navigate work, especially virtual work, when you feel like you’re alone and missing the experience of human connection in real life. However, there are a few things that come to mind when thinking how we can show up today, tomorrow, and beyond for one another.

Normalize checking-in and going beyond the first response.

Normalize saying no to friends without an explanation.

Normalize communicating when you must unplug.

Normalize not being everything to everyone.

Normalize mental health and well-being.

Normalize sleep and self-care.

Normalize making you #1.

And just like that…

What seemed like the same recurring nightmare that would never end, there are some real life examples of how we can engage in meaningful dialogue to help build a more inclusive culture.

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