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I attended a training seminar on inclusion recently and one of the fellow participants, Jon, said something so simple, yet so powerful, I had to write it down. Now, it’s turned into the inspiration for my next four articles.

He said, “I need to talk to more people, longer.”

Think about that for a minute.

Talk to more people. That makes sense. It ties back to one of the very first articles I wrote, the “Hey, Friend” Challenge.


Wow. Think (once again) about all of the people you think you know. What would happen if you talked to them longer. If you got past the part of the conversations about the weather, and your kids and what you are doing this weekend. And really asked them about themselves. Where are they from? What was that like? What’s been their biggest achievement in life? What’s been their biggest struggle in life? What do they find the most challenging in their work and life?

I just laid down some deep questions for you right there.

To put this into broader context, the inspiration of “I need to talk to more people, longer” came as a result of being asked for the action we were personally going to take to help overcome our personal biases. Here are some definitions we learned that day (Source: Inclusive Leadership: The View from Six Countries; Catalyst 2014).

Diversity: When a group is made up of people who are different from one another, in both visible and invisible characteristics.

Inclusion: The perception that you are both similar to and distinct from other members of the group, based on both a feeling of belonging AND a feeling of uniqueness.

One of the main ways we can feel both a sense of belonging and uniqueness is to get to know people at their core. With even a small desire to get to know others, we can find some common ground to help us feel connected, and through a dialogue that goes deeper than “how’s the weather?”, we can uncover the uniqueness that might not be apparent from external appearances.

Jon’s solution to get to a better feeling of inclusion is so simple, yet so complex. I’ll leave you with his words for now. Talk to more people, longer.

If you are a podcast listener, be sure to check out my guest appearance on The Successful Micropreneur where we talk about unconscious bias – it’s a quick 15 minute listen. 

Not sure who to even start talking with, longer? Make sure you check out the Network Mapping Exercise I described in my last article. There is a free download available HERE.  

Once you dive into that, reach out to me to brainstorm where to start your networking and building meaningful connections.  As a coach who specializes in networking, relationship building and professional development, I’d be happy to spend 30 minutes discussing your experience and help you uncover even more opportunity with your network.

52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections is offered by Small Town Leadership. If you would like to see how much progress you can make toward making our big world feel like a smaller place, sign up to receive these articles on a weekly basis.

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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