Cultural Communication

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Cultural Communication: Brown Bag Discussions “Understanding through Dialogue"

soldiers walkingThe SOM Diversity Committee Presents:

Brown Bag Discussion “Understanding through Dialogue”

June 14th "Burnout"1200 to 1300 in Bldg E G250


 Everyone is invited,

Let’s continue the discussion about inclusiveness and diversity.

Brown Bag Bias Discussion

May 18th Summary "How do we talk about sexual harassment?": 

What can we do?

  1. It is every organization’s responsibility to create and maintain a culture where harassment is unacceptable
  2. “Fox News” is the best example that people won’t report harassment if they believe nothing will happen to the person harassing
  3. Acknowledge that embarrassment plays a role in preventing reporting
  4. Some women try to let the person harassing down easily, it is more effective to be direct and place distance between you
  5. Being logical is difficult during an emotional encounter, write down the details when you can
  6. Education before starting a job about resources and responses can help
  7. The leadership at USU needs and wants to know about unacceptable behavior


April 17th Summary: This workshop will include guest speaker perspectives of patient
refusal and difficult interactions to include discrimination because of
gender, religion, race and military service. This interactive presentation
will assist participants in addressing situations where patient rights and
beliefs may interfere with optimal care.


Highlights of Past Discussions


On February 16th we discussed the question: How do our responses change by our group identity? 

Consider these pieces for pieces for review:

Us Versus Them

Social Identity Shapes Neural Responses to Intergroup Competition and Harm: (link is external)

 Abstract only, you can download the entire PDF

Thandie Newton’s TED Talk on otherness: (link is external)

How to Avoid “Us” vs. “Them” Thinking in Your Team:

March 16th Topic: What is the difference between race and ethnicity, sex and gender?

April 20th Topic: Does our social identity affect burnout?


On Jan 19th 2017 the topic was  “How do we talk about sexism in health care?”

After the discussion we walked away with the following take away points:

1.       Be an example of treating others with respect and fairness

2.       Have an awareness of media messages

3.       Counter messages by reading

4.       Encouraging empathy and realize that emotions are shared

5.       Confront discrimination when witnessed

Consider these pieces for review:

Washington Post article, Women are better doctors:

An essay on the Healthcare industry:

The importance of treating men and women differently:

Brown Bag discussions are the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Feb 16th Topic: How does our group identity shape our interactions?

March 16th Topic: What is the difference between race and ethnicity, sex and gender?

See past discussions and highlights at:

On 15 December, 2016 the discussion topic was “Does our attitude influence our communication?"

After the discussion we walked away with the following take away points:

We should be diligent and practice self awareness since there are several different ways we tend to respond to information received from others.  We can receive news that either help a relationship or tear down a relationship whether it was constructive or destructive in delivery.    

The following links gave background information on the issue:

From a business perspective:

Thoughts about emotions in the workplace (podcast available): 

An essay on Positive emotions:

We’re looking for more Feedback!

If you have comments, suggestions or solutions please leave a comment:




On November 17th the question was: “Does having power decrease your empathy”

The take away points we discussed were: 

·        Power influences how we communicate

·        Find a neutral place or a topic both people are ignorant to decrease the difference

Consider these articles to read:


How do Humans Gain Power 

Soft Power vs Hard Power  


After the discussion we walked away with the following talking points:

We all maybe classified as having a disability in one form or another, however it is important to be mindful of the words we choose when communicating with others.  We have to cleanse ourselves of inappropriate words when speaking with others and always be mindful of our audiences. 

The following links gave background information on the topic:

Journal article that highlights our implicit negative attitude towards individuals with disabilities: Attitudes towards individuals with disabilities as measured by the Implicit Association Test: A literature review

First person perspective:

We’re looking for more Feedback!

If you have comments, suggestions or solutions please leave a comment:





Due to the recent attacks in Orlando we discussed the topic on “What?” What happened?  What should we do? What happens next? 


After the discussion we walked away with the following take away points:


Communication is always Key! Try and get facts in situation before making judgement.

Treat others as we would like to be treated.



There is no pre-reading, the news coverage will be enough:


Brown Bag discussions are the 3rd Thursday of each month.

July 21st Topic: Should we address disparities in the legal system?


August 18th Topic: Why is there a stigma with mental health?


September 15th Topic: Microagression part 2, How can we educate others on the topic?



See past discussions and highlights at:

On May 19, 2016  the discussion topic was “Are some groups promoted faster than others?"

After the discussion we walked away with the following take away point:

"Pursue what most interests you and actively seek mentorship to help achieve your goals."

The following links gave background information on the issue:

How US Military Structure Overcomes the Gender Pay Gap

Sheryl Sandberg’s 2010 TED Talk: Why we have too few women leaders

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Faculty Promotion in Academic Medicine

If you have comments, suggestions or solutions please leave a comment:

The opening question for the discussion was: “Why do we use race in medicine?” 

The following links gave background information on the issue:

Medical Schools Teaching Race

TED Talk:

The problem with race based medicine by Dorothy Roberts

  1. After the discussion we walked away with these take away points:  
  2. Race belongs in the social history section not the Chief complaint or Identification
  3. AAMC has to get involved to create a systemic change especially in standardized testing
  4. Medical students are taught to always consider race except for microbiology immunology slides
  5. When asked what label to use for a patient, “i.e. Black or African American” use what the patient uses or use nothing if you didn’t ask the question
  6. Race is a surrogate for culture, environment and social influences
  7. Genetic differentiation may be more prevalent in the future


The opening questions for the discussion are: “Why am I here? How do I find meaning and purpose? What sustains me during difficult times?” Our answers to these questions can indicate how spiritually resilient we are. In turn, our spiritual resiliency is an essential component in our overall ability to maintain a state of well-being.

Our chaplain is posing these questions in the context of our monthly diversity dialogue because each of us answers them differently. For many, their answers are partially or wholly informed by various religious beliefs and perspectives. Yet others find meaning and purpose apart from religion. Please join us in discussing what gives your life meaning and purpose and what we can do to increase our individual and collective spiritual resiliency.

The following link offers one (not religion specific) perspective on the issue:


How to Unlock the Power of Purpose - Richard Leider

Imagine a pill that would aid cognitive decline, help prevent macroscopic stroke, aid sleep, and add 7 years to your life. How much would you pay for it? Would you take it? It turns out that pill is free, and it's available to all. It's called Purpose.

The opening question for the discussion was: “How do you recognize burnout?” 

Captain Patricia McKay discussed our topic on Burnout and provided the following ppt:

Power point presentation for Burnout

The following links give background information on the issue:

That's the thing: You don't understand burnout unless you've been burned out. And it's something you can't even explain. It's just doing something you have absolutely no passion for.

-         Elena Delle Donne


The article below recommends that the Triple Aim be expanded to a Quadruple Aim, adding the goal of improving the work life of health care providers, including clinicians and staff.

Care of the patient requires care of the Provider


Job burnout: How to spot it and take action


Discover if you're at risk of job burnout — and what you can do when your job begins to affect your health and happiness. 


The video below is about Vanessa Loder's mission to empower and inspire millions of women by helping them realize true success is easier than they think. 

How to Lean In Without Burning Out


 The opening question for the discussion was: “Who wins when the patient and provider disagree?” 

The following links give background information on the issue:

Medical conflict overview article (six years old but a good topic overview):


Dismissing families for vaccine refusal:


How to use an expert (Watch it as a patient not a provider):


Empathy and Patient–Physician Conflicts:



The following links give background information on the issue:

Quotes about compassion: 

Cherokee tribe of Native Americans, who said “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”. 

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960 

Kids and entitlement: 




The CFC campaign proves how generous we are as a community and how we take care of others.  Amy Poehler said “There are so many people in the world with so little. Who cares why you decide to help?”

Charity and giving is however an issue for some people, especially when connected to compassion, stewardship, entitlement, or empowerment. 

The opening question for the discussion is: “To whom should I give?”  

The following links give background information on the issue:

Quotes about compassion: is external)

 Cherokee tribe of Native Americans, who said “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”.

 “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960

  Kids and entitlement: is external)


Panhandling: is external)


Poverty: is external)



Nov 19th “Interfaith Dialogue”   

The opening questions for the discussion are: “How do we move from the clash of civilizations to a dialogue of civilizations and find ways of relating to each other that are genuinely collaborative and go beyond mere tolerance? Is this even possible? What can I do personally?”  

Preparation materials:

TEDxDU The Interfaith Amigos: Breaking the taboos of interfaith dialogue

The theme of "Radical Collaboration" is personified in Rabbi Ted Falcon, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Imam Jamal Rahman - collectively known as The Interfaith Amigos. In a time when religion appears to be at the heart of fragmentation, suspicion and conflict, their friendship is a beacon to a wiser, more compassionate, and hopeful path. is external) 

TEDxRainier - Interfaith Amigos is external)

The Necessity and Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue

Given the geopolitical state of our world today and the role that religions are playing in that world, the religious communities that populate our planet have reached a point in their history in which they must find a new way of relating to each other. They are being called to collaborate with each other rather than compete with each other. It is time to set aside their centuries long agenda of competing, fighting, and trying to replace each other and enter into a genuinely cooperative dialog of equals. Is this possible? How? (A lecture by Paul Knitter that was part of the 2014 Baldwin Wallace Faith & Life Lecture Series) is external)

Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian: The Challenge and Opportunity of “Double Belonging” is external)

Brian McLaren: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World

McLaren observes that two common approaches to Christian identity have been having a strong identity that is hostile to others or having a weak identity that is tolerant of others. He then suggests that it is possible to have a strong and benevolent religious identity. The problem isn’t having a strong identity, but rather building an identity of “us” around hostility to “them.” is external)

Brian McLaren: Beyond the Box Interview (90 minutes) is external)

The Heart of Faith: The Parliament of the World's Religions is external)

  Highlights from the discussion:

  • Having respect for others is universal and best shown by example
  • Discussing religion in a manner that seeks understanding reduces the fight
  • A reflective question is, "How does your spirituality help you interact with other people?"
  • Focus on the relationship to increase understanding 

"Glass Ceilings"

Preparation materials:

10 immediate actions you can take to shatter the glass ceiling

So We Leaned In, Now What?

Barriers for Women to Positions of Power

Oct 1, 2015 on NPR: Despite Improving Job Market, Blacks Still Face Tougher Prospects

 Highlights from the discussion:

  • There are physical barriers to achievement like geography and degree requirements, there are external barriers from gatekeepers and systems and there are internal barriers like self-doubt
  • Breaking barriers may not be a goal for many people
  • Support, mentorship, education and open door policies from leaders make a difference
  • Passion and persistence are essential especially to break our internal glass ceilings
  • Language can change attitudes and should be inclusive 

The “fixed mindset” or changing your mind

Preparation materials:

Highlights from the discussion: 

  • Mentorship and positive examples can helpinfluence a positive or growth mindset
  • When we are surrounded by like minded people we may not see our fixed or closed mindedness
  • Exposure to others open up our perspective and theirs
  • The discussions are a way to share views and to see other people's viewpoints

In recognition of the 4th of July, we discussed patriotism and grace.  While the two subjects seem very different, the majority of us are in the US because we were born here but we extend the privilege to others.  We are at a university of people dedicated to serving this country and we prove every day that working together takes and gives grace.

Preparation materials: is external) is external) is external)

Highlights from the discussion (Individual opionions represented):

  • America is not the same as it was in the past and we should expect the culture to be different in the future
  • Not all arguments against immigration are racially motivated, other immigrants may feel a sense of unfairness after following the rules
  • Historically there have been groups labeled as “outsiders”
  • Patriotism is as Mark Twain said, "I support my country all the time, and my government when it deserves it." 

Preparation materials: 

Current injustices: is external)

Availability Bias: is external)

Personal response to injustice: is external)

Highlights from the discussion:

  • Value those who are around you.
  • Our definitions of terms can reflect how we feel
  • Historical injustice is easily separated from current injustice for many people. (Jim Crow, slavery, Holocaust, etc.)
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Ask questions
  • Develop relationships
  • Vote
  • Read and educate yourself  

Preparation materials:

Illusion of Transparency

Confirmatory bias

Confirmation bias

First Impression and First Impressions Count

Highlights from the discussion:

  • There was a question if first impressions are important and because of confirmation bias and the “Impostor syndrome” it is important to be aware of first impressions.
  • Everyone is concerned about first impressions
  • Having a mentor or sponsor or friend to guide you through new situations helps
  • Making an impression is a continuous act not a single event
  • When meeting a group, it only takes one person to make a new person feel less self-conscious and welcomed
  •  When presenting remember that you are the subject matter expert
  • Physical qualities influence impressions such as height, dress, positioning and grooming.  Be aware of what you can change  

Preparation materials:

Micro-agression: (disclaimer – one use of profanity)

Micro-inequities: is external)  

Highlights from the discussion:

  • The consensus was that most people want to know when they offend someone else
  • We have to educate others because most comments are from ignorance
  • Power differentials can make educating more difficult
  • Apologizing is helpful
  • Many instances can be ignored
  • Find a phrase to point out the comment that fits for you, i.e. “Are you kidding”

Preparation materials:

This video is not an endorsement but only gives one perspective: is external)

In summary a Black woman was asked to verify her information when writing a check when her cousin who appears White was not treated the same way and confronts the person.  The storyteller shares her feelings and hesitation with the injustice.

Highlights from the discussion:

  • Anyone who has courage should speak up.
  • Treat people the way you want to be treated.
  • The military is not immune to this behavior.
  • Saying something gives power, acknowledgement and counters the victim mentality