We live in a time of unprecedented challenges and opportunities. We face complex and interconnected issues such as climate change, racial injustice, economic inequality, and social polarization. These issues require us to work together across differences and boundaries, to co-create solutions that are inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. But how do we do that?
One way to start is by being mindful of micro-inclusion and micro-collaboration. These are small but powerful actions that can help us build trust, respect, and solidarity with others. It can be as simple as saying hello, smiling, listening, or acknowledging someone’s presence or contribution. Micro-collaboration is a small step to include someone in a shared project or goal. It can be as simple as asking for input, offering feedback, sharing resources, or inviting someone to join a conversation or activity.
Micro-inclusion and micro-collaboration are not enough by themselves to transform the structures and systems that create and maintain injustice. But they are essential ingredients for building the relationships and networks that can enable such transformation. They are also practices that can help us heal ourselves and each other from the wounds of trauma or exclusion.
Change is something that can be undone with a shift in context, but transformation cannot. Transformation requires us to shift our mindsets, behaviors, and cultures in ways that align with a vision that everyone has a place, and everyone matters.
So how do we practice micro-inclusion and micro-collaboration? Here are some suggestions:
Be curious and open-minded. Learn about the perspectives, experiences, and needs of others, especially those who are different from you or who have been historically excluded. Ask questions, listen actively, and seek to understand before judging or dismissing.
Be respectful and compassionate. Recognize the dignity and worth of every human being. Express empathy and kindness. Avoid stereotypes, assumptions, or labels that dehumanize or diminish others.
Be humble and accountable. Acknowledge your own biases. Admit your mistakes and apologize when you cause harm. Learn from your feedback and take responsibility for your actions and impacts.
Be generous and supportive. Share your knowledge, skills, resources, and opportunities with others who can benefit from them. Offer help when needed or requested. Celebrate the successes and achievements of others. Appreciate the contributions and gifts of others.
Be inclusive and collaborative. Invite others to join you in your projects or goals. Seek diverse perspectives and input. Co-create solutions that reflect the needs and interests of all stakeholders. Foster a sense of belonging and community.
These practices can help us build trust, respect, and solidarity with our fellow human beings. They can help us create a culture of collaboration that can enable us to tackle the big challenges we face together.