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Fostering inclusive communications in a diverse workplace

Is it hard for you to talk with someone who thinks differently than you? Are there times when you want to speak up, but are worried about how co-workers will receive your message? Are you facing hidden biases—factors like upbringing, culture, the media, and your family and friends—that shape the way you think toward others?

You need a unique blend of bravery, vulnerability and courage to engage in conversations with those who have different opinions than your own. At work and in your community, it’s increasingly important to listen and understand the others’ points of view, even when you don’t agree with them. While it may seem easy to get upset and walk away, working through differences of opinion in a healthy way can be a positive learning experience for all.

Respecting differences and fostering inclusion

Our personal biases can lead to arguments or using unprofessional language, which may violate your company’s code of conduct. Even when you disagree with someone at work, be respectful of that person’s thoughts and opinions. Find things you have in common to reduce tension and lead to a healthier conversation.

Here are some other ways to foster inclusion:

  • Identify biases. By identifying biases, you’ll be better able to notice them and correct them before they surface.
  • ·Adjust how you speak. People who share similar cultures or backgrounds are not all the same. Avoid using language that implies everyone feels or thinks the same.
  • Listen to others. When having a conversation, remove all distractions and listen fully to what the other person is saying. Don’t assume any hidden meaning or interrupt them with your opinion.
  • Do some research. Educate yourself by reading about the challenges, prejudices and discriminations others face.

Inclusion can have a positive and productive impact on you and your team members. Listening to differing opinions or beliefs may help open your mind to something new and expand your own thoughts.

Inclusion can also have an impact on your team’s sense of safety and purpose, important components of their well-being. As you work toward ways of fostering a more inclusive workplace, if you or your colleagues are feeling anxious or stressed, consider trying to step away from the workday and take a 10 minute walk to check in with what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.

A note for leaders

Your organization’s culture is driven by your people. Your team’s beliefs, values and backgrounds add diversity to your workplace. Fostering inclusion acknowledges that your team members’ values are recognized and understood. Here are a few ways to continue fostering inclusion in your workplace:

  • Be accessible. Let your employees know you’re available to talk. Open and honest conversations show team members you personally value them.
  • Individualize employees. Get to know your team. Learn about personalities, expectations and experiences so you may appreciate them as individuals.
  • Provide resources. Educate members across your organization about diversity and the various challenges people face. Schedule diversity and inclusion training and workshops. Also, you’re company may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If so, direct individuals to their EAP for more resources.
  • Accept mistakes. Allow room for misunderstandings while your team works toward fostering a more inclusive environment. We all can learn and grow from our mistakes.

Sources:

1Crystal Raypole, “How to identify and manage workplace bullying,” Healthline. Accessed July 2020.  https://www.healthline.com/health/workplace-bullying#What-is-workplace-bullying

Timothy Dimoff, “Hidden bias and how it leads to workplace bullying,” Accessed July 2020. https://timothydimoff.com/2016/06/16/1001/

“11 ways to develop a more inclusive communication style at work,” Forbes. Accessed July 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2016/06/07/11-ways-male-leaders-can-adjust-communication-in-order-to-be-more-inclusive-to-women/#403e78424638

Nikoletta Bika, “How to foster workplace diversity,” Workable. Accessed July 2020. https://resources.workable.com/stories-and-insights/workplace-diversity#

“Diversity and Inclusion: How to value diverse people and organizations,” Management Help. Accessed July 2020. https://managementhelp.org/interpersonal/multicultural-diversity.htm

Sally Kane, “How to protect yourself from bullying in the workplace,” The Balance Careers. Accessed July 2020. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/types-of-bullying-2164322

Anne Maltese, “Fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace: The role of manager,” Quantum Workplace. Accessed July 2020. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/fostering-diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-workplace

“How to have more inclusive conversations,” Reflektive Blog. Accessed July 2020. https://www.reflektive.com/blog/how-to-have-more-inclusive-conversations/

Sarah DiGiulio, “Nine tips for talking with people you disagree with,” NBC News. Accessed July 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/9-tips-talking-people-you-disagree-ncna1059326

Caroline Belden, “A point of view: We may not always agree, but let’s talk about it,” The Inclusion Solution. Accessed July 2020. http://www.theinclusionsolution.me/point-view-may-not-always-agree-lets-talk-bold-inclusive-conversations/

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Swap out heavy cream for milk and Greek yogurt for a low-fat version of Pasta Primavera.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine or fettuccine cooked per box instructions
  • 1 cup zucchini cut into small spears
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow squash cut into small spears
  • 1 cup broccoli small heads
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup red pepper cut into strips
  • 1 cup snap pea pods
  • 1 cup carrots peeled and sliced on an angle
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • 9 ounces low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Start by getting all of your veggies ready, and feel free to be creative and cut them into different shapes. Pretty food always tastes better and different shapes add a pleasing look to your dish!
  2. The first thing to do is start boiling water for your pasta, and measure out your yogurt and allow it to sit until it reaches room temperature.
  3. After prepping your veggies, gently sauté them in the olive oil and garlic until they are just barely cooked. Now set them aside to stay warm.
  4. Cook your pasta per the instructions on the box.
  5. While the pasta is cooking in another sauté pan, add your milk and allow it to get very hot.
  6. Add the grated cheese and mix well. Turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to reduce slightly.
  7. Now here is the only tricky part to the meal. As soon as the pasta is ready, put your veggies back on for a quick reheat.
  8. Drain your pasta.
  9. In a large bowl, add your pasta, the low-fat Greek yogurt, and the milk/cheese mixture. Toss this all together to blend well.
  10. Feel free to add in another handful of grated cheese if you like, season with pepper and plate it into servings or on one large serving platter, then top with your beautiful vegetables and serve!