Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman’s model above illustrates how, in System 1 thinking, the brain reinforces our intrinsic biases and motivations to influence our behaviour. Here, we instinctively gravitate to what’s familiar to us, to people who look like us, and to language that’s meaningful to us.
As a busy communicator, System 1 is likely where you spend most of your time. Working here can get you through your to-do list quicker, but only by being able to shift into System 2 will you find ways to work around these unconscious biases and create more inclusive communications. In a recent webinar, Kademy coach Jenna Clarke shared a few small changes you can make to get started:
- Shift your perspective: Look at your communication materials, and ask yourself the question “what messages could I receive as…:
- …A woman, a man, or someone who identifies as non-binary
- …A person of Muslim, Jewish or Hindu faith
- …A person with a disability
- …A light-skinned person of colour or a dark-skinned person of colour
- …Someone who lives in a rural or an urban area, different parts of world
- …A non-English/dominant language speaker
- …A plus-sized individual”
Ideally, think of these perspectives in the design phase, and not in the final editing stage.
- Check your language and words
- Consider impact not intent – if you were training an Executive for a media briefing and they said something that could be misinterpreted, you wouldn’t think, “It’s okay, the journalist will know they didn’t mean it.” You’d correct them politely so they don’t get misquoted. Similarly, when it comes to inclusive language, it’s up to us as communicators to consider how someone else, particularly someone with different experiences, might perceive the information we’re sharing.
- Find reputable sources to stay current and ‘in the know’ – words previously considered ‘acceptable’ or ignored yesterday can quickly be thrust into the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
- Remember that inclusive language is more than avoiding offensive terms. In your efforts to adopt more inclusive language throughout your organisation, it’s important to consider not just what might be considered derogatory, but also whether your company’s communication style prevents people from understanding and therefore, participating. For example, company or team acronyms can be perplexing to anyone outside of your organisation. For those who are new, company lingo can create a sense of inferiority and slow their ability to acclimate to the culture.
- And if you aren’t sure – ask.
- Do a quick inventory of your design and corporate photography
- Do all the people in images look the same? (age, gender, body shape and size, race)
- Is your content placed in different backgrounds? (outside, inside, city, country)
- Is power/agency being given to one person in the photo over another?
You won’t be able to change everything at once, so choose one small change to make today and do it consistently. Your aim should be progress, not perfection. And remember, there’s no need to judge yourself or others – only the opportunity to expand your self-awareness and commit to continuing your learning.
You can download the webinar slides using the button below.
Kademy partners with communication leaders and their teams to raise the bar on performance. If you’d like to find out more about how Kademy could support you, call +44 (0)207 157 9787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.