How Inclusive Leaders Talk

Did you pledge to become a more inclusive leader or manager this year? If so, don’t only focus on your company’s policies and procedures — your communication style is just as important. Researchers have identified three key ways inclusive leaders talk. First, they use audience-centered language. So take the time to understand the needs of the people you’re speaking to and personalize your language. Use second-person pronouns (i.e. “you”) to take the focus off yourself and bring the audience into your message. Next, demonstrate subject-matter expertise. Cite relevant research, but also be sure to use language that signals your open-mindedness and receptiveness to other points of view. And don’t just explain the “what” — give context and relevance that helps your audience understand the “why” behind your message. Finally, be authentic. Don’t put on a show: Speaking naturally conveys that you truly believe in what you’re saying. And above all, your words must match your intentions and actions. All of these behaviors will help you earn your audience’s trust and convey that you really care that they feel included.

This tip is adapted from “What Inclusive Leaders Sound Like,” by Noah Zandan and Lisa Shalett

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