noun. an affinity for a place or situation.
To have affinity is to have a natural liking for and understanding of someone or something.
To belong is be the property of or to be a member of (a particular group or organisation).
We all want to belong. We all want to feel an affinity for a place or situation. We all we want to belong as equal members.
We long to be seen.
We long to be heard.
We long to be accepted.
We long to be valued.
We long to be loved.
We long to…be.
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself”.Maya Angelou
We want children to belong in our classrooms. We want want colleagues to belong in our workplaces. We want individuals to belong in our communities. We want to citizens to belong in our society.
When we belong we are healthier and we are happier.
When we belong we take less sick days.
When we belong we stay in roles for longer.
When we belong we perform better at work.
So how do we create, build and nurture a sense of belonging? How do we create inclusive cultures where everyone belongs? How do we build a sense of affinity?
To build a sense of belonging requires active effort and practice. One way to work on increasing our sense of belonging is to look for ways we are similar with others instead of focusing on ways we are different.
Three ways we can create a sense of belonging for others:
- Establishing trust
- Developing a rapport
- Managing our impact
Feeling like an outsider can create a greater sense of loneliness.
Four steps to achieve a greater sense of belonging:
- Challenging our core beliefs
- Practising unconditional self-acceptance
- Making room for “and”
- Prioritising healing ourselves
We all need to feel that we ‘belong’ somewhere – fostering this feeling in our employees can make all the difference when it comes to building an effective team.
Four ways to foster belonging in the workplace have emerged from research:
- Creating allies at work
- Engineering empathy-building experiences
- Encouraging healthy interactions
- Processing exclusion verbally
As educators, we all want to create a sense of belonging for the children we teach.
Seven ways to foster belonging in the classroom:
- Making introductions immediately and get started on the right foot
- Prioritising high-quality teacher-student relationships
- Creating a supportive and caring learning environment
- Being sensitive to students’ needs and emotions
- Setting standards and expectations for discourse
- Showing interest in students
- Fostering a sense of community in the classroom by establishing classroom respect and fair treatment
To belong is more than being tolerated, it is being accepted and celebrated.
To belong is to be included, to be welcomed, to be loved.
To belong is to feel secure, to feel stable and to feel safe.
When we belong we are authentic.
“True belonging does not require that we change who we are;it requires that we be who we are”.Brene Brown
When we belong we are courageous.
“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect”.Brene Brown
When we belong we are at peace.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other”.Mother Theresa
Diversity, equity and inclusion are the words of the moment in our world.
Belonging is found in the space at the intersection.
Belonging is every individual’s ideas mattering.
Belonging is everyone’s identity being represented.
Belonging is power being distributed equally.
Belonging is everyone being valued.
A quote I use a lot as it is a great metaphor about being seen is:
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being invited to dance”.Verna Myers
But I also like this variation about being heard:
“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, belonging is having that voice be heard”.Liz Fosslien
Let’s all reflect on our own sense of belonging but also on how we create belonging for others around us too.