What do all these sentences have in common? Would you consider these sentence structures conscious communications?

  • I was speaking to a disabled person the other day.
  • A Chinese lady owns that store.
  • It was a black man that played the guitar.
  • The autistic child built that Lego house.
  • What a fabulous woman leader.

Did you find anything noticeable about each of these statements? Perhaps not. The formation of each sentence is typical, and you could eavesdrop on a conversation using anyone one of them, and not even bat an eye.

 

by Suzanne F. Stevens, Conscious-Contribution™ Cultivator, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), YouMeWe.ca

 

One day I was interviewing Florence Zano Chideya, Ambassador of Zimbabwe in Canada; Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa. At the end of the interview, unfortunately off camera, she made a comment that stuck with me and forced me to rethink how we as human beings communicate. We were discussing women and their ability to lead, and the need to have more women in politics to create parity and to achieve a better representation of the population. She said: “Equality will exist when we no longer feel the need to use an adjective in front of a noun.”

“Equality will exist when we no longer feel the need to use an adjective in front of a noun.” Learn more about conscious communications. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet

 

Turn unconscious bias into conscious communications

Each one of the above statements uses an adjective, or a descriptive noun (as in the last example) in front of a noun, and consequently exposes a potential bias. Let’s do something bold, and remove the adjective, what happens to the sentence?

  • I was speaking to a “person” the other day.
  • A “lady” owns that store.
  • It was a “man” that played the guitar.
  • The “child” built that Lego house.
  • What a fabulous “leader.”

Now some writers may be mortified, how could you take the colourful language from the sentence, we can no longer get a clear picture of the person you are speaking of. What we do have is a clear understanding that they are all human beings. Was the added descriptor necessary, or was it just our bias coming through in our language?

Using an adjective, in front of a noun can consequently expose a potential bias. Let’s do something bold, and remove the adjective. Learn more. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet

Communicate the descriptor consciously

However, if you insist on the importance of providing more detailed information, there is a way we can communicate it in where the emphasis is less on the adjective or secondary noun, and more focus is placed on the first noun.

bias conscious communications

  • I was speaking to a “person who was disabled” the other day.
  • A “lady who is Chinese” owns that store.
  • It was a “man who was black” that played the guitar.
  • The “child who was autistic” built that Lego house.
  • What a fabulous “leader, who happens to be a woman.”

Now technically, any descriptor beyond “person,” or “human being” or “you” “their” can be perceived as bias. Assuming you value inclusivity (a cornerstone of the YouMeWe mindset) consider using your descriptors consciously when you communicate by putting your subject first, what makes the person the same, then what makes them unique. Adjectives or noun descriptors are the difference.

One example with four different versions, with a new option tacked on to the end:

  1. What a fabulous “woman leader.”
  2. What a fabulous “leader.”
  3. What a fabulous “leader, who happens to be a woman.”
  4. That leader is fabulous.
Consider using your descriptors consciously when you communicate by putting your subject first, what makes the person the same, then what makes them unique. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet

Here is another example:

  1. The “autistic child” built that Lego house.
  2. The “child” built that Lego house.
  3. The “child who was autistic” that Lego house.
  4. The child built the Lego house.

At the end of the day, a child built it. How do you think using the last observation language would have an impact on the child? Perhaps, just maybe, they would grow up thinking they are another child capable of anything.

Equality will exist when we no longer feel the need to use an adjective in front of a noun. Conscious communications can assist our unconscious bias. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet

Now consider, what language do you use with your colleagues, with your clients or collaborators? Is it the language of inclusion or exclusion? Are you revealing a bias, and has it impacted your relationship? Depending on your relationship, and the nature of the individual you are communicating with, you may never know why they leave your organization or stop doing business with you. So, watch your adjectives.

By using our adjectives and nouns wisely, we will consciously communicate that people, all people, are equal first and foremost. What makes us similar. is our differences.

By using our adjectives and nouns wisely, we will consciously communicate that people, all people, are equal first and foremost. What makes us similar. is our differences. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet

 

Access more Bias Busters here:

Unconscious bias need a bias buster

In the next weWednesday, we talk about the labels we put on people, and how they too can get in the way of our business relationships.

 

Until next time, make your contributions count.
#YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts

 

BEFORE YOU GO… like & share this post with your friends, colleagues, and anyone who wants to live their most meaningful life. Together, WE can spread the YouMeWe mindset of consistent conscious-contributions™ to the community. Collaboratively we can create a positive ripple effect. 


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Suzanne F. Stevens - make your contribution count


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