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Why can’t we just talk to each other? Conversational Values and You

By: Tyler Dzuba

Have you ever tried to have a conversation, but keep getting derailed for one of these two reasons?

  • “They won’t speak up at all! I’m carrying the whole conversation!”
  • “I can’t get a word in edgewise! They’re taking up all the air in the room!”

Let me share how some savvy from the world of linguistics can help you communicate better in these cases. (Spoiler: try on the opposite conversational style, even if it feels a little rude to you!)

Did you know that across cultures and languages, people on average notice a silence of only 200 milliseconds—just a fifth of a second!—as a discernible gap in conversation? That’s literally a blink of an eye.

Here’s the thing, though: what we do with those gaps in conversation might get us in trouble depending on who we’re talking with. The research in conversation analysis tells us that individual people fall on a spectrum between high-involvement...

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Structural Racism Made Approachable. Actionable.

Everyone is talking about structural racism. It's an important, intimidating, sometimes confusing, and huge topic. Let's get our arms around what it is—and how it's different from behavioral racism.

First, racism. Racism is the belief (whether or not we admit to others or even consciously to ourselves) that groups can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another.

Behavioral racism is when we act on racist beliefs. It appears as telling a racist joke, holding and acting on stereotypes that negatively portray another race, or perpetuate attitudes or beliefs that reinforce beliefs about one or more racial groups. Researchers define structural racism as "the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white...

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The Influence of Inherited Racism

by Dana Mariani-Lada

People can be in situations, not actively chosen by the individual, where they learn racist behaviors and attitudes. It is my belief that, regardless of where or how we learn about racism, we each have responsibility for identification, acknowledgement and dismantling it. Inherited racism is the term that I use (actually, I think I’m coining it with this post). My definition is informed by my own lenses, my experiences. It is the idea that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race that is consciously or subconsciously transferred from an authority figure to an individual at early stages of life through adulthood. The individual, who receives prejudiced and/or discriminatory communication from an authority figure may, and often, believes these attitudes are appropriate. It is important for individual growth and development to identify what attitudes have permeated your upbringing and make an effort to identify, evaluate, and...

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Words Do Hurt

Photo Credit: National Museum of African American History & Culture

 

Written by Jerome Offord Jr., Ph.D.

Words, they do hurt!  When I was a child, I repeatedly heard the old-time saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This saying was reflective of the supposed toughness and endurance of the American spirit and was recited by children across the country for generations. Within my own family, this proverb was employed as a deflection to bullying. The verse had a peculiar yet straightforward message: your intimidator cannot harm you unless they resort to physical violence. 

However, when words degrade, embarrass, incite hate, or are microaggressive, they demonstrably cause harm and pain. The amplification of harmful words can spawn civil unrest and catalyze violence. Look no further than the recent terrorism that transpired on the U.S. Capital. Five people lost their lives in that attack on our democracy, and...

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God Willing and The Creek Don’t Rise

Photo Credit: Shelah Marie

 

Late last Friday afternoon, I joined a Zoom call. Several DJA team members were there as was a client in Detroit. In all, three Black women, similar in age, were present. The obligatory, “How are you doing?” started the conversation. Our client pausedwe’ve developed wonderful rapportaverted her eyes, and said “You know, God willing and the creek don’t rise.” All three Black women in the meeting burst into familiar laughter. We were in a space in which we fully belonged, able to experience and share a mutual sense of exhaustion in a way that reinforced sisterhood and support. I haven’t stopped smiling since. 

The saying “God willing and the creek don’t rise” has been around for a long time, but it was likely popularized in Johnny Nash’s song “If the Lord’s Willing.” Most folks I know attribute it to our Big Mamas. Wikipedia describes it as an...

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Getting Past Politics: Living Our Shared Values

I do not love politics. Much of this year, and all of last week, captures my why: people are forced to find and accentuate the worst in each other (during the primaries, even attacking people who are mostly ideologically aligned) and no matter the outcome, there are a lot of people who feel that they lose. As a person who’s spent my entire life fighting to expand access, only having two options has always felt limiting to me. At a DJA team meeting last Friday, three days into ballot counting, and with us all in an uncertainty-filled fog, I broached the elephant in the room. One of our team members said “we are up” and held up a “fingers crossed” symbol with their hand. Torn but needing to stand in my values I said, “I know that we are all watching with anticipation as the election results come in. I also want you to know that I am not assuming we all voted the same, and that’s ok. I didn’t ask to see your voter registration card as...

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Talking about Values and Politics: Something’s Gotta Give

Image Credit: Palo Alto City Library

Four years ago, the day after the election, I walked into the offices of a company that is an international powerhouse in the communications industry. Several months before, I had been scheduled to be onsite, offering anti-bias workshops for executives who had flown in from various regional offices across the U.S. A long planning process had occurred but not one of the creative teams had prepared communications in the event  Donald Trump became the newly elected president. Not one. Everyone was running in circles trying to figure out what to do. Everything seemed blurry and surreal. Regardless of political stance, most people were shocked by the outcome. That day was a mess, an incredibly unproductive, emotion, and confusion-filled mess. 

We can’t know what additional surprises this election will hold, but we can learn from recent experience. Today is, with so much attention on the attributes and expectations of leaders, also a...

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My Connection to LGBTQ+ History and the Road Traveled

In October 1998, Matthew Shepard was found nearly dead, hanging from a fence just outside of Laramie, Wyoming. Matthew was 21 years old. His murderers said that he made sexual advances toward them. They robbed and brutally beat him. Matthew died of his wounds six days later in a Fort Collins, Colorado hospital.

Just two years before, I was living in Fort Collins, CO. I was pursuing a master’s degree, had a full-time assistantship as coordinator of multicultural education and training, and had an internship in the Human Rights Advocacy and Education Office, a department of the City of Fort Collins. My work involved listening to complaints of discrimination in public accommodation, housing, and employment. There was also a huge amount of listening, educating, and advocacy. I was given, early in my life and career, a window into others’ realities in ways that helped broaden my awareness and perspective. I learned that many LGBTQ+ people had been living with threats and...

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Indigenous Peoples Day and Finding My Voice

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution

I want to take a moment to commemorate Indigenous Peoples' Day. In addition to a growing national recognition, this day for me is personal.

At 19 years old I was a student leader on my campus. As part of the student government, my role was specifically focused on multicultural student programming and collective action. Along with the President and VP of the student government (who are both staunch allies to this day), we wrote a resolution that Colorado State University recognize, rather than Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples. We, of course, enlisted the wisdom of student, staff, and faculty leaders affiliated with what is now the Native American Cultural Center.

I remember this so vividly:

In the research and writing of the resolution, we also socialized the idea with a number of the University senators who would actually be voting on it. OMG, we got no love. There was not a glimmer of hope in sight.

I  met with students, staff, and...

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What's Your Change Agenda?

 

The time is here! EVERYONE is ready to make progress on equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. Different than in the past, leaders are ready to move beyond a one-off training or charge a diversity committee with doing the heavy lifting alone. Most of what we’re hearing are requests for 1) EDIAR Strategy, 2) strategic planning that integrates EDIAR throughout the organization’s core business operations, and 3) enterprise-wide competence development for leaders and managers on what EDIAR means for them, their practices, and their accountability for advancing the organization’s values and goals.  

For those who are interested in strategy, we often work with clients on the importance of not jumping too quickly into implementation. A lot of well-intended leaders and managers want to quickly solve problems that have either been pervasive or are the focus of recent attention. Most tempting are those nagging itches that we have never been able to...

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