Inclusive behaviours and seeing things in a wider context

Twenty years ago I got in touch with a culture that was very different to mine; I moved to Cyprus. North meeting south. Very different “rules” and social contexts. One thing that I really liked, was the exchange of  recommendations and services; an attitude of “I’m nice to you, you’ll be nice to me”. I worked as a PR Manager in a hotel, so many service people around town were very nice to me!

Jokes aside, I found this general attitude pleasant, and good for business. I think it helps to lift your perspectives, seeing that so many of us are connected and we have an influence on each other. If you think of an office environment, having a good rapport with people at any level of the organisation, turns out to be beneficial at times you didn’t expect it to. E.g. you get time on someone’s busy agenda because you know her/his secretary, or you ease smoothly into a new team because you have chatted with these people in the company restaurant, or you get good recommendations from colleagues for a new job/promotion (because you treat them with respect instead of seeing them as competitors), or you have a good relationship with your new boss as s/he was a good colleague of yours before. People move around, you never know, the janitor (that someone wasn’t nice to) may be a management student working during his/her studies and all of a sudden s/he’s that someone’s boss.

And, it amazes me that people don’t think of the above examples as a possibility. When I hear of, or meet, people e.g. who don’t reply, or reply impolitely, because you are not “important” (in their eyes), well, then I think that they have some blinders on – there’s a picture and a context they are failing to see. Too bad, it may backfire. So, can you help these people to “open their eyes”. Hmm, it goes back to values, doesn’t it, what values are important? As a Norwegian, I grew up with egalitarianism as a basic value, so it’s a given for me to treat everyone with the same respect and importance. But, in some cultures, more respect and attention is given to people of a certain position or status. If you are a colleague or the boss of someone who only prioritises work coming from high up in the hierarchy, you could try to find personal motivating factors for this person to see the importance of being “nice” to everybody. That person may also have another value that can be triggered.  Or maybe it isn’t just this person? Then it would be an idea to look at it systemically; is this a general attitude/culture in the office, do we need to implement peer reviews as part of the performance cycle or do we need to consider an action plan to increase inclusiveness among us?

Changing behaviours isn’t easy, but it’s possible. It sure is more pleasant to work in an environment where everyone feels of importance, that they are listened to, heard, seen – and get a response! And… an inclusive work place produces happy, creative, innovative, loyal, productive employees – and as we know, that’s good for the bottom line.