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4 Ways to Hone Your Interpersonal Skills
to Promote Inclusivity
Whether it’s used for the fight against gender inequality in the workplace, or to teach the next generation about cultural diversity in the classroom and beyond, educating both yourself and those around you about the importance of inclusivity will provide you with a valuable skill set in this increasingly globally-connected world. Not only does promoting an inclusive culture allow you and your peers to feel safe and secure in your social and working environment, but this type of learning inspires a sense of community - not only within the four walls of the classroom and workplace, but in wider society too.
As a result, in this article we’ll discuss four key interpersonal skills you should hone to help integrate a more inclusive ideology into your day-to-day life. With the right application, this will be positively reflected to all those you meet - ultimately creating a supportive structure that will allow you to engage yourself and others in new situations without feeling out of touch or uninformed.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Gain More Exposure
According to the Kings Fund’s analysis of English demography, by 2031 ethnic populations are expected to make up 15% of the English population - making the country’s total population just over 61 million, 3.5 million of which are expected to be attributed to net migration. As such, it is clear to see that cultural diversity within the country is growing, signalling a heightened importance to learn about and understand the varied types of cultural backgrounds.
An easy way to address this and align yourself with the country’s future, therefore, is to gain more exposure to different backgrounds - be this ethnic, religious, social or other. By actively reading about what’s important to others, you’ll be better placed to understand the needs and beliefs of those around you in all sorts of situations, becoming more mindful of how your daily actions can impact others as a result.
Whether this means understanding why modest dresses are worn by Islamic women, educating yourself about different religious events, or learning about the different cultural customs that should be used when conversing with someone from a different background, making yourself aware of these things will act as a crucial weapon in your interpersonal arsenal. As such, we’d advise taking a keen interest in learning about what’s important to other people, helping to make minorities feel included and confident speaking with you by acknowledging your understanding of their needs and beliefs.
Rid yourself of pre-formed opinions
It’s human nature to carry preconceived and often stereotypical responses around with us, assigning these to people we meet and interact with every day. By adhering to such opinions, you’re likely to limit not only your interpersonal skills, but your social circle too.
As such, when meeting someone for the first time (and, indeed, when speaking to someone you already know) it’s important to remain open minded, moving away from bias limitations and listening to the person in front of you for what they’re saying - as opposed to judging them for the colour of their skin, what they’re wearing, their physical impairment or their gender. This will allow you to get to know their personality and can significantly help you form strong relationships either at work, school, with your neighbours, or when out and about.
Diversify Communicative Methods
For those of you in positions of power, such as managerial job roles or within the education sector, it’s important to diversify your communicative methods to endorse a real sense of inclusivity between students and colleagues alike. Whether this is through the spoken and written word or within the imagery you use (as seen on presentations or advertisements), by diversifying your communication skills, not only do you remove potential feelings of neglect, but you instil a sense of confidence and familiarity within the person you’re addressing.
This can be implemented by using non-gender specific language such as swapping out masculine pronouns for more general alternatives such as ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘theirs’, or using both male and female pronouns interchangeably. In addition, it’s wise when teaching a class of students to explain the use of any idioms and common sayings, for the benefit of both non-native English speakers and those of a lower learning ability.
Moreover, it’s vital that you use multiple and diverse examples when explaining things to others, as this will increase the likelihood of both your students and peers relating to at least one of them - meaning it’ll be easier to form a bond with you as a result.
Ask questions and be honest
Sometimes associated with a sign of vulnerability, asking questions about things you either don’t understand or are unsure that you fully grasp is a crucial part of both learning interpersonal skills and feeling inclusive within the community yourself. After all, if you don’t actively ask questions, you’re likely to rely on pre-formed opinions dictated by the media or another person’s opinion, instead of forming your own educated view based on knowledge and understanding.
To do this, you need to be open and honest yourself, helping others to feel comfortable and safe in disclosing sometimes personal information about themselves to you. Remember that there’s nothing stupid about simply not knowing something. On the contrary, by asking questions and showing a keen interest in learning more about a certain topic, you will likely gain respect from your peers as you strive for a more inclusive relationship with others.
Encouraging inclusivity should start in the classroom, but given its status as an increasingly crucial principle in our wider society (on both a local and international scale), it’s never too late to start making steps towards becoming more inclusive yourself. Whether you’re a boss, teacher or parent, it’s crucial you lead by example as, naturally, it’s your duty to help educate those who look up to you, helping steer them into a more confident version of themselves. So, by adhering to the above four tips, we hope you’ll be able to implement this inclusive ideology into your personal toolkit and beyond.
About the Author
Abi Proud is a content creator for AbayaButh - retailers of abayas, hijabs, dresses and a range of modest Islamic clothing for women.