March 11, 2022

Inclusivity Through Mantras

Lead Your Team. Say Your Mantras.

It's one thing to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming at work; it's another thing altogether to actively participate in creating instrumental  changes within and at work. Creating an inclusive environment takes more than a few small actions. It involves changing the way our company behaves from the inside out. Not only does an organization as a whole need to change, but individuals need to change their behavior too. 

Incorporating DEI programming into our team's work environment is a great introductory tool in making deep, lasting change; however, it's also important that it's considered a supplement to the personal work you’re doing. The individual work may include self-reflection, tough conversations, education through reading, and more. Studies have shown that most exclusive behavior is unconscious and unintentional in the workplace. These subtle behaviors can create a negative culture in the workplace, so it’s imperative to be aware of and uproot our unconscious biases and behaviors.. 

If we’ve embarked on this individual journey to discover and let go of our own biases, you may be familiar with regulating self-talk that arises. For example, if you’ve been practicing to cultivate a sense of belonging and inclusion with your entire team, you may tell yourself “don’t offend anyone” during a group meeting. By telling yourself not to do a specific action, these negative associations can actually pull those subconscious biases to the surface.This may also limit ourselves from expressing ourselves freely, bringing a sense of rigidity and limitation to our inner space.

To better help regulate these negative thought patterns, mantras can help us recenter our intention and refocus our thoughts on positive intentions. Instead of clinging to negative thoughts and acting in a negative way, our thoughts and actions can be associated with positivity. When we’re able to be aware of our unhealthy thought patterns combined with the intention to act from a positive place , we can create a more inclusive work environment and encourage others to do the same. 

A recent study revealed that students who incorporated inclusive mantras felt noticeably different about their peers around them and found the effects transformative for team work. 

The Harvard Business Review said this in a recent article about inclusive mantras:

“Like a silent meditation, a well-crafted mantra that calls to mind the generous intentions underlying our fears can reduce ambivalence and drown out defensive thoughts and feelings that often lead to seeking distance. Repeating a strong, simple mantra like “I’m glad you’re here,” “We’re all in this together,” or “I love this team” silently to ourselves can produce the kinds of inclusive, affirming, nonverbal behaviors we aim for.”

Give these mantras a try the next time you experience negative self talk around your coworkers:

  • My team and I accomplish incredible things together
  • We all bring value to the table.
  • I enjoy learning about teamwork from this group of people
  • I value the perspectives and ideas from this person.
  • I am proud to work with such a supportive team everyday

As we continue to progress in our journey of becoming a more inclusive and accepting individual, we hope that you’re able to inspire those around you to grow.