Promoting Inclusion in Communication and Interaction

In seeking to promote an inclusive culture, it is important to utilize strategies that will meet the needs of diverse people when communicating in order to maximize understanding. Here are some universal tips that can help you interact well, whether in a class/meeting or individually, with a variety of people who have a range of needs:

  • Approach communication with a positive attitude and assume that you will be able to communicate well with the person.
  • Ask how the person prefers to communicate and try to meet that when possible.
  • Use direct, clear, and concrete language/instructions when possible. Make sure to face the person when speaking.
  • Avoid using compound or multi-step phrases. Break things into chunks and allow time for the person to digest between directions.
  • Be friendly and engaging—simple things such as smiling, asking how you can help, greeting people proactively can make a vital difference in how well the interaction goes.
  • Start with the assumption that the person may be struggling with something or facing hardship, and use a default empathetic and compassionate attitude.
  • Minimize distractions: close doors and windows if appropriate to limit outside noises, adjust lighting, wait for others to stop shuffling papers, etc.
  • Allow ample time for a response before repeating yourself.
  • Provide or allow fidgets, spinners, doodling, or other items that transfer nervous energy during interactions.
  • When possible, provide information in writing in addition to orally. Use simple colors, headings/subheadings, and consistent layouts.
  • Caption orally presented content.
  • Offer flexibility when possible with how people should respond (such as allowing email communication instead of only in-person discussion).
  • If possible, give an agenda or talking points ahead of time to allow the person to consider the information before discussing it.
  • Allow audio recording of orally provided information/content that could be transcribed.
  • Vary the way information is communicated (e.g., lecture or spoken, PowerPoints, videos, essays, activities, discussion, etc.).
  • Prepare the person for anything new or changes to the routine through announcements ahead of time.
  • Build in or enable breaks in lengthier interactions.