Diversity speaker shares communication techniques

Caitlyn Oliver

Maura Cullen, a diversity speaker, came to Georgia Southern University campus

tonight to share her expertise on improving communication between people.

Her presentation revolved around eight core concepts.

1. Intent versus Impact: “I didn’t intend to hurt you but does that mean I didn’t hurt


People may not have the intention of causing harm but that does not stop it from

hurting. Cullen uses the example of stepping on a person’s foot – you may not have

meant to step on them but they are still in pain.

2. Pile on Principle: “Your message is more than your words.”

Individually things may seem trivial but as they add up it is capable of frustrating


3. Explain Away: “We all deserve at least the semblance of respect. When

communicating with someone else, start there.”

There may be another explanation to a seemingly bad situation that you don’t see

when communicating with someone else.

4. B.A.R.: “People say things because of their life experiences.”

Breathe, Acknowledge, and Respond. This is what people should do before reacting

to a negative encounter, meaning they should calm down, acknowledge what is

said, and then respond. Most people do the process backwards with a negative spin:

Respond, Attack, and then Breathe.

5. In-group/Out-group Language: “When you’re in the family, in the group, there’s

one set of rules. If you’re outside that family, or that group, there is a different set of

rules. Violate them at your own peril.”

Standards change depending on the group you are involved with. You can tease a

sibling but a friend cannot.

6. Equal versus Equitable: “Treating people equally is a great start. Treating people

equitably is better.”

People must race to seize a prize. Being equal means giving everyone the same size

and brand of a shoe. Being equitable means giving everyone a shoe that fits. Treating

people equitably is adapting to unique circumstances.

7. Advantage/Disadvantaged Identification: ‘Some people are born on third base

and go through life thinking they hit a triple.’ –Barry Switzer

Some people get to where they are through hard work, whereas other people are

lucky and born into their advantages and opportunities.

8. Bystander Behavior: This being the end of the presentation, Cullen chose to leave

a lasting impression with a profound message.

I am part of a lost generation

and I refuse to believe that

I can change the world

I realize this may be a shock but

“Happiness comes from within.”

is a lie, and

“Money will make me happy.”

So in 30 years I will tell my children

they are not the most important thing in my life

My employer will know that

I have my priorities straight because


is more important than


I tell you this

Once upon a time

Families stayed together

but this will not be true in my era

This is a quick fix society

Experts tell me

30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce

I do not concede that

I will live in a country of my own making

In the future

Environmental destruction will be the norm

No longer can it be said that

My peers and I care about this earth

It will be evident that

My generation is apathetic and lethargic

It is foolish to presume that

There is hope.

When read top to bottom, the message depicts a bleak future. When read bottom to

top, the message is uplifting and about the denial of apathy.