The best facilitators use inclusive communication

 Jan 24, 2017

Effective communication is an important tool in fostering and promoting an inclusive learning culture. While participating in a learning and working environment, have you thought about the way you communicate?


Fostering inclusivity means all learners are given the opportunity to participate fully in your learning environment. As a facilitator you need to:

  • Be sensitive towards learners who are self-conscious about speaking openly in a group
  • Promote verbal participation and build on active listening
  • Be aware of the length and complexity of your communication and instructions


Language relays a message to another person; verbal and non-verbal, and imparts knowledge and skills to the learner. Language also sends a message of inclusivity or exclusiveness. These messages can ‘make or break’ the dynamics of the learning or work environment.

Verbal Communication

  • What type of language do you use when communicating with others?
  • Is the vocabulary appropriate to the person and context?
  • Do your questions and comments lend to critical and reflective thinking or do they just require a one word response?

Non-Verbal Communication

  • Do your facial expressions encourage all learners to contribute, or are they dismissive?
  • Do your actions create an atmosphere where learning is challenging and exciting?
  • Do you face some learners and not others?

Please note…Some cultures are more accepting of certain styles of communication than others. For example, a certain tone of voice may indicate aggression in some cultures, while in other cultures that tone may be considered an open style of communication.

Be aware of your own body language and the message it sends. Also, as different cultures have different non-verbal communication cues, it is important to be aware of cultural difference in order to foster an inclusive learning and work environment.


Listening is an essential part of interaction. We can listen for meaning and for intent. Often we only listen for meaning and don’t listen beyond the meaning. Facilitators and learners need to be active listeners to understand, promote and challenge communication.

Few of us really actively listen to what another person is saying. More often, we hear only part of what another person has said, and then begin to form our own response, counter-argument or rebuttal. Frequently, we hear and respond to just words, rather than the feelings that the other person has communicated.

Active listening requires the following:

  • The ability to concentrate
  • Applying objectivity
  • Employing questioning
  • Obtaining feedback

Reflective listening restates or mirrors to the speaker both the reflective feeling and the content of the message. It shows the other person that you understand. Summarising what has been said helps to achieve accurate understanding of the content. This is useful at work to confirm instructions and information before you take action.

Does your communication style promote an inclusive learning culture?

For more information, take a look at New Horizons' Business Communication courses.

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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