‘Explore shop’ addresses communicating in a diverse world

Allen advocates effective and humane approach

April 4, 2013

Brenda Allen speaks with a participant

The world is ever changing and 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 Tuesday’s brown bag lunch and learn hosted by Staff Council.

The session was hosted by Allen from the Executive MBA Conference Room in the CU Denver Building and video conferenced to the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Originally titled Communicating Effectively in a Diverse World, Allen said she changed the session’s title to add Effectively and Humanely. “Humanely is such an important part of communication.” She 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 to talk about their personal preconceptions and what those conceptions mean. “I want you to learn from each other and teach each other,” Allen added. “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,” said Allen.

One major topic of discussion regarded 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.