Using inclusive language: A handy guide to discussing religion

December 12, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Approximately a 5-minute read.

Key takeaways:

  • It is essential to use inclusive language to create a welcome, equitable culture at Michigan Medicine.
  • The Department of Communication is creating a handy guide that will make it easier for you to use proper phrasing and language in both the written and verbal form.
  • In recognition of upcoming holidays, this month’s topic focuses on communicating appropriately around religion.

When using the written or spoken word, language is essential when it comes to creating a welcoming, inclusive and equitable environment — which aligns perfectly with U-M Health’s strategic priority of Belonging and inclusion.

As the priority states, promoting and advancing an inclusive culture “will improve health care equity and reduce health disparities.” It will also enhance engagement among faculty, staff and learners.

To help you play your part and support a more engaging culture, the Department of Communication has created a handy guide to make sure your language does not intentionally or unintentionally create an unwelcoming atmosphere.

With some folks’ holidays right around the corner, this month’s topic revolves around religion.

A challenging subject

Religion is an important part of many people’s lives and well-being; and yet we often avoid it in conversations with others outside of our immediate bubbles.

The Department of Spiritual Care at Michigan Medicine works hard to offer spiritual and emotional care to patients, families and staff members.

The team manages chapels, offers consults and carries out after-hour requests and other essential services. The chapels are available 24/7 to help individuals practice their individual religions.

In order to truly increase understanding and compassion, talking with others can help create more meaningful interactions.

All religions, cultures and beliefs deserve the same amount of respect, even if they are different from your own.

Take 10: Tips to respectfully discuss religion

Here are some tips on having better discussions about religion:

Building connections

Most of us want to have respectful, meaningful conversations but are worried that we don’t know how or will do it in an offensive way.

On top of the 10 tips above, here are a few more things to think about:

  • Speaking about religious traditions might seem too personal and intimidating but it is also an opportunity to learn what might be particularly important and meaningful to the people you interact with.
  • When people feel genuinely heard, this can create an atmosphere of trust, understanding and respect.
  • You can also build connections by asking “are there important celebrations or traditions for you throughout the year? If so, what do they include?”

By keeping things positive and respectful, you can improve the culture and psychological safety for those around you – and create a better place to work and heal at Michigan Medicine.

Do you want to learn more about inclusive communication? Last month, readers learned how to properly write and speak about disability.