The world is ever changing; having the ability to communicate in a diverse world is a key to success in many aspects of life. This was a key message from Brenda J. Allen, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, during last week’s brown bag lunch and learn hosted by Staff Council.
The session was presented by Allen from the Executive MBA Conference Room in the CU Denver Building and video-conferenced to the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Though the session originally was titled “Communicating Effectively in a Diverse World,” Allen said she changed the title to add “Effectively and Humanely.”
“’Humanely’ is such an important part of communication,” said Allen, who also pointed out that humanely can mean a variety of things to many people.
In the “explore shop,” as Allen redubbed the workshop, she led the group members to talk about their personal preconceptions and what they mean. “I want you to learn from each other and teach each other,” Allen said. “This is an ongoing process that will last your whole life.”
Allen told the group of faculty and staff a story from early in her teaching career about assuming that a Latina woman could speak Spanish.
“I was able to learn from her and she was very gracious in teaching me the lesson,” Allen said.
One major topic of discussion was respect and what it means for different people. In pairs, participants were encouraged to talk about what it represents to them and how they perceive it in others. Allen emphasized that a person must be open to learn in order for this process to work.
One participant said her major take-away from the “explore shop” was learning that you can’t change anything but yourself.
Allen gave three recommendations to leading an effective and humane way of communication in life, which are to commit to improving yourself, to be mindful of yourself and to be proactive. “Do a little homework before you engage with someone new, you’ll be amazed what it can do for you,” Allen said.
She also recommended taking the Harvard Implicit Associations Test to see your biases so you can be more mindful and proactive.