Conscious Actions for Inclusion [Katz & Miller]


In my previous post, I made a quick reference to a terminology that a past colleague used to discern between different levels of intensity of his intents. Curious to learn where it originated from, I discovered:

Conscious Acts for Inclusion: A Common Language to Drive Uncommon Results

The authors, Judith Katz and Frederick Miller are part of The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, a consulting group that’s been focusing on creating inclusive, collaborative cultures since the 1970s, way before doing DIB (Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging) work was cool.

The paper starts with a profound insight, that took me several years to uncover on my own:

What this means, therefore, is that to create an inclusive environment, you must start with inclusive behaviors. Policies, procedures, and initiatives can support such an environment, but an inclusive environment can only be created by the collective use of behaviors that foster inclusive interactions.

Underlying these behaviors is a mindset shift: from judging to joining:

Katz and Miller’s list of 12 behaviors consists of 4 key behaviors and 8 sustaining behaviors:

4 Key Behaviors

  1. Lean into discomfort — “By making the conscious choice to move out of our comfort zones, we inspire others to respond in kind. An environment of safety evolves in which we begin to trust that others have our back instead of stabbing us in the back.”
  2. Listen as an ally — “we listen deeply and with full attention, viewing others as partners on the same side of the table. We look for value in the speakers’ perspectives and build on what they say. We engage with others in the conviction that we are all in this together.”
  3. State your intent and intensity — “When we clearly state what we mean and how committed we are to the idea, it enables others to act quickly, decisively, and correctly. The clarity of stating intent and intensity eliminates second guessing, miscommunication, and the waste in interactions that results from them”
  4. Share your “street corner” — “ In order to get a comprehensive understanding of a situation, it is essential to hear different perspectives, or street corners (as in, “the view from my street corner”), of all relevant people, thus creating the 360° view that allows for better decisions.”

8 Sustaining Behaviors

  1. Greet people authentically: say “hello” — “A simple, authentic “hello” to acknowledge others, whether in a team meeting or just walking down the hallway, is a key step toward ensuring that people feel seen and included.”
  2. Create a sense of safety for yourself and your team members — “If a team wants to achieve high performance, raise difficult issues, identify and solve problems, and make decisions rapidly, everyone must feel safe enough to speak up, share their thinking, voice their opinions, take risks, partner with others, and join as full participants.”
  3. Work for the common good and shared success — “Establishing, verifying, and constantly updating a shared understanding of the organization’s common goals can help overcome divides and silos that plague so many organizations.”
  4. Ensure right people, right work, right time: “ask who else needs to be involved in order to understand the whole situation — “Even the most insightful and productive meeting can be limited if those who have important perspectives related to a project, problem, or decision are not present. Sometimes, one key person’s absence can leave an ever-so-important street corner/ perspective out of the conversation — leading to rework, delays, waste, and even failure.”
  5. Link to others’ ideas, thoughts and feelings — give energy back — “… is about connecting and letting people know they have been heard. It is a way to give “energy back” and to let people know the impact of their ideas, thoughts, and feelings on others.”
  6. Speak up when people are being made “small” or excluded — “ The assumption that people will speak up if they have something to say is often incorrect. If we want to encourage new ideas and ensure the richest and best thinking, it is incumbent on all members of the team to be allies, to make room for all voices to be heard, and to be responsible for the team’s efforts and results.”
  7. Address misunderstandings and resolve disagreements — work “pinches” — “ The challenge is to address, not avoid, misunderstandings; to explore and address disagreements and differences, not ignore or suppress them. When disagreements or misunderstandings go unaddressed — as people continue to avoid the issue, talk to others about their concerns, and work around team members with whom they feel misunderstood or have a “pinch” — it creates waste.”
  8. Build trust — do what you say you will do, and honor confidentiality — “ When people feel that sense of trust, they are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt — and in turn, speed up the level of interaction, problem solving, and decision making. This dynamic, however, only takes place when people can count on one another to do what they say they will do, when everyone knows that each individual will live by her or his commitments and honor confidential statements.”

There is SO MUCH good, practical advice in this short 10-page paper that I’d highly recommend reading the full piece. However, it also paints a picture of interpersonal dynamics that is significantly different than the current status quo in many organizations which may lead to viewing it as unrealistic to achieve. To that end, I’d offer three pieces of advice:

  • Print out and carry with you the cheat sheet that Katz and Miller also kindly created:
  • Focus on yourself and changing your behaviors before trying to get others to change theirs.
  • Pick one key behavior to start with. Focus on it. Master it. And then move on to the next one.
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Conscious Actions for Inclusion [Katz & Miller]

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