How being politically correct is not the same as being inclusive

How being politically correct is not the same as being inclusive

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time, either” – Donald Trump at the 2016 GOP Primary.

Maybe the orange man does have a point for once. People don’t have time for political correctness. But people don’t usually ask to be politically correct.  What people are really asking for is to be inclusive. To be respected.

Yes, there’s a difference between political correctness and inclusiveness. Political correctness is about looking good in front of others. Being inclusive is about being good.

Political correctness is externally motivated. Being inclusive is internally driven.  When people do something they consider to be politically correct by using or avoiding certain words, acknowledging certain groups, etc.  it often conflicts with their own values. They’re only doing it because they have been told they should do it or everyone else is doing it, even if they don’t believe it themselves.

On the other hand, when people do things they consider to be inclusive, even if they’re the same themes as the politically correct ones, they never conflict with their own values because being inclusive is a value.

According to Monash University, inclusive language is used not because we’re politically correct, but because it’s accurate, fair, respectful and necessary. Inclusive language simply means language that avoids marginalising people who are already marginalised. It’s language that is accessible and meaningful to a wide audience.

Being politically correct means seeking approval from others – a bit like Trump’s Cabinet telling him how much they love working for him (do they?)

Being politically correct is behaving in a way that seeks validation from others.  It makes you look good to those in power such as voters, friends, Gandhi, and even Mark Zuckerberg so that they will think that you’re not a bad egg.

Validation doesn’t mean agreeing or approving. Like when your best friend wearing what you think is an unflattering dress and asks if they look good. Because you don’t want to offend, you ‘validate’ by saying “hey you look AMAZING”. But really deep down you’re thinking “the 80’s called and they want their puffed sleeves back”. By supporting your best friend, you’re strengthening the relationship while maintaining a different opinion.

Being inclusive is a mindset

Being inclusive is all about being a better person to other people. Being inclusive is a mindset. You’re determined to make others feel more comfortable around you and being a good person, you look for ways to do so.  

It’s not about compromising your values. It’s about refining and developing values of empathy and concern for the other.  

You can’t always be inclusive

Depending on your values and belief systems, you can’t always be inclusive of everybody. No one is perfect and we all see the world through a different lens.

Being committed to an inclusive mindset is hard and takes a lot of energy. But to help with having a more inclusive mindset, here are some things to consider:

  • Being open minded and curious to different ideas and experiences – have that desire to understand how others view and experience the world. Sometimes there is no right or wrong. The world has more shades of grey than you think.
  • Have courage to talk about imperfections. Occasionally we may say the ‘wrong’ things unconsciously. Everyone stuffs up. If someone points it out, acknowledge and take accountability. Be humble. And equally challenge the status quo. You’re not telling someone to stop using a term because you want to look like a hero, you’re doing because you care that marginalised groups are being more marginalised.

What are your thoughts on political correctness vs inclusion? Share your thoughts with us today

Catherine is obsessed with words especially how they spark emotion and it’s ability to connect with others. At Dawn, she helps with any wordy woes and the content strategy. Other than her love of writing, she likes to do yoga with a glass of Pinot noir.

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