Language Policing is Hurting Your DEI Efforts - Aim Instead for Conscious Communication — Crescendo DEI

How much does 'language matter'?

12/1/2021 5:53:00 AM

How much does 'language matter'?

'Language matters,' we've all heard that.  In DEI, the language we use plays a large role in our relationships with colleagues, our productivity, and how safe we feel at work. It's important to know how the things we say affect the people we interact with.  But how do

Nov 10Team Crescendo"Language matters," we've all heard that. In DEI, the language we use plays a large role in our relationships with colleagues, our productivity, and how safe we feel at work. It's important to know how the things we say affect the people we interact with. 

But how do we know when we've crossed the line from inclusive communication to language policing? In this article, we look at how usingConscious Communicationas a growth-centered approach instead, helps enhance your DEI efforts. Language Policing and DEI

Language is an important focus in DEI. After all, the way we communicate helps shape both our work environment and culture. Being conscious about the impact our words have on others is how we work towards inclusion. But when we focus all our efforts on policing exactly what’s right and wrong to say, we detract from meaningful communication.

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“Language is meant to facilitate conversation, not shut it down. But when we view language as a reflection of a person’s innate qualities, or blame a person for not possessing the most up-to-date lingo, we make further conversation and connection with them impossible. We also block ourselves from getting to learn about their outlook, because we’ve rejected their ideas for not being presented ‘correctly.’

”Dr. Devon Price, Social Psychologist In a system that immediately shuts down language (with certain exceptions like slurs and hate speech) that is not intended to cause harm, it’s easier to be met with resistance and unproductive arguments. Honing in on the smaller details of

what is said, rather thanwhat is meant, takes away from the opportunity to refine our use of language as a communication tool. That’s where conscious communication and its broader approach to language differs.  Conscious Communication Conscious communication involves being intentional with how we express ourselves. It strays away from hostile debate and pressured silence and compliance, and offers a system of empathy and constructive dialogue instead. All teammates are involved in creating an environment for conscious communication, where civil conversations can be held and the status quo can still be challenged. 

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Here are some principles that can help you create a culture of conscious communication in your workplace:Make conversations inclusive and accessibleMeetings (both scheduled and impromptu) are often where your team members engage the most with each other. You can make it easy for them to connect with one another if these are made accessible for all.

Make sure the virtual meeting platforms you use have captions and record meetings or share notes/updates if they are relevant to team members that are away. Make sure important images and figures shown in virtual presentations and screen-shares are described out loud, as screen-readers don’t communicate this visual information. Encourage your team to communicate their other assistive technology needs to help them maximize their potential. 

Practice observing and listeningA key part of conscious communication is giving importance to the emotions, behaviours and experiences of yourself and others. This also means creating space for change and active conversation. 

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