Inclusivity may seem like a philosophical or academic term; it may even “feel good” and be worthy of attention. Practically speaking, inclusivity, or the creation of “common ground” for people to interact peacefully and cooperatively to achieve something of value, is elusive and lacking. Practical neuroscience provides the understanding and tools to experience inclusivity in positive and proactive ways.
Principles of Inclusivity
- People engage and do things for their reasons, not yours.
- Differences tend to fragment and separate; similarities tend to bond and unite.
- People seem to focus more on differences than on similarities; this can be reversed.
- The quality and quantity of similarities defines common ground for inclusivity.
- The size and stability of the “common ground” is the driving and cohesive force for cooperation, collaboration and success.
- Common ground becomes the focal point; differences are respected and put into “neutral gear.”
Establishing “common ground” is the basis of long-term friendships, harmonious spousal relationships, successful families and sustainable organizations of all sizes. Another way to look at common ground (inclusivity) is by mapping out the “crossing trails” of each party’s common needs, values, interests, experiences and beliefs.
The following questions help people enter into inclusive relationships; the methodology is expandable to organizations and potentially bridges gaps between political ideologies and competitive factions. The caveat is that all parties must be willing to engage in the process of defining their similarities and differences. The key to successful, inclusive relationships is to establish enough common matches that align with and cross over one another.
Three Questions Define Inclusivity
1. What shared outcomes do we want to experience together?
The response to this question is the bedrock foundation for inclusive, sustainable and positive relationships. Unless there are common outcomes, how can two or more people stay in a relationship to achieve something of value together? Examples in a personal relationship may be long-term friendships characterized by fun, trust, respect and growth; business outcomes may be satisfying customer and employee needs with profitability goals; government outcomes may be employment, educational and wellness opportunities for everyone. Beware that some outcomes may be repulsive; this should not be a roadblock to engaging in the outcomes that you do align with. “Shared outcomes” are the focal points; differing outcomes are ignored and judgment is withheld. Differences most often derail good intentions and noble causes.
2. What are our common values?
Values define behaviors; they are how we treat one another and forge rapport, trust and respect. The group must agree to practice one or more shared values; ideally, they are values aligned and congruent with “high road” behaviors. As an example, if a leadership team values “people,” they treat them with kindness and try to create safe and stimulating environments; non-congruent behavior would include fear tactics and firing people when economic conditions seem to be worsening. Values are “how” we go about doing things together; outcomes are the “what.”
3. What interests, passions and experiences can we share with one another?
This can include our children, hobbies, self-improvement projects, people we admire, books, interesting places visited and life lessons. These subjects provide variety, texture and depth to our relationships as we work together on shared outcomes; this bonds us at the human and spiritual levels. Sharing with each other on this level provides for friendships, growth and continuous learning.
In summary, inclusivity is a simple and powerful way to bring people together to accomplish valuable and fulfilling things together. It’s essential that you agree on the “what” and “how;” focus on your similarities rather than your differences. As you earn trust and respect, even your differences can be leveraged to achieve a higher quality of life for everyone.