To start the semester off we hosted a module on diverse communities.
The goals of this module were to:
Everyone has a variety of identities placed upon them by themselves and their society. These include things like: Race, ethnicity, social class, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability status, spiritual or religious affiliation, age, body size/shape, appearance, education, immigrant status, etc.
While some of these identities are visible, others can be hidden. Our choices can be heavily based on our self-perception of how those identities will be perceived and the stereotypes, both positive and negative, that we associate with them. Much of what we think of these identities is learned through our experiences with family and peers, at school, in the community, through the media, or elsewhere in our lives. The challenges both in opportunity and in self-perception that we face result from a combination and intersection of how we perceive ourselves and the way we are perceived. Even when some of our identities are considered valuable in society, others that are perceived as less desirable can be used as tools of oppression or justification for discrimination. We should always strive to examine our own perceptions and try to analyze and correct our biases.
Speaker: Jessica Kuchta-Miller, MA, JD, Office of the Ombuds at Washington University in St. Louis
The audience should be able to:
Jessica Kuchta-Miller began with an overview of the Ombuds Office and their four main goals.
Jessica Kuchta-Miller is the principal contact for staff, graduate students and postdocs on all campus locations. There are separate ombuds for Danforth faculty, medical campus faculty, and medical students. See resources below for more information.
In addition to learning about a valuable campus resource, we were also introduced to effective communication strategies. We learned about mental traps to recognize and avoid. The 10 mental traps Jessica Kuchta-Miller described are listed below:
To emphasize the impact that these mental traps have on us, Jessica Kuchta-Miller facilitated an exercise demonstrating that the way information is framed, in conjunction with our biases, can influence the way we interpret a situation. She explained how some of our beliefs may be founded on faulty interpretation of data, using the Ladder of Inference to show us how beliefs are adapted.
Jessica Kuchta-Miller also provided the group with an overview of Ting listening and specific steps to take in important conversations, which are similar to the LARA communication skills Connections has covered in prior years.
TING listening is listening with your whole self. We should use not only our ears, but our mind, heart, and eyes as well, all while giving the speaker our undivided attention.
From the US Department of State, there are four rules to TING (or active) listening:
1. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.
2. Be non-judgmental
3. Give your undivided attention to the speaker
4. Use silence effectively
The steps for communication have been summarized from the handout prepared by Jessica Kuchta-Miller:
The strategies introduced in this lecture will be useful to members when having conversations both inside and outside of Connections. These skills will be reviewed at each discussion and should be utilized in upcoming lectures and discussions.
Ombuds FAQs: https://staffombuds.wustl.edu/faqs/
For staff, postdocs, & graduate students: https://staffombuds.wustl.edu/
For faculty & students on the Medical Campus: https://ombuds.med.wustl.edu/
For Danforth faculty: https://facultyombuds.wustl.edu/
TING Listening: https://www.state.gov/m/a/os/65759.htm
Ladder of Influence: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_91.htm
LARA Communication: https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/AM17/Difficult%20Dialogue%20Handout%201.pdf
This blog is made to record the information learned at Connections lectures.
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