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WSP 371 — Effective Workplace Conversations: A Skill-Building Workshop

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturday
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Sep 28
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Sep 21
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $275
Instructor(s): Criscillia Benford, Anna Trester
Limit: 25
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Sep 28
1 day
Drop By
Sep 21
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Criscillia Benford, Anna Trester
Face-to-face conversations are vital for providing strong leadership, working in teams, and managing workplace conflicts. But navigating critical conversations effectively is a skill that must be learned and developed through practice and experience.

In this workshop, we will begin by discussing the Second Science Project—a collaborative effort between the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and The Second City to discover how the principles of improvisation can enhance workplace conversations, collaborations, and performance. We will also discuss research-based insights into communication, such as why face-to-face requests are thirty-four times more successful than email, why perspective-taking is a more effective tool for managing conflict than avoidance or even accommodation, and how to initiate what researchers call “repair” when conversations break down—e.g., when a joke backfires. Students will learn tips for applying these and other research-based insights to common workplace situations where strong conversational skills are essential, such as team meetings, prospecting, networking, and negotiations.

We will focus on “learning by doing” in a safe and supportive environment, joining in a mix of games and activities designed to help us internalize conversational best practices, strengthen collaboration and active-listening skills, and improve our ability to remain authentic, engaged, and assertive even in the midst of challenging conversations.

No improv or performance experience is required.

Criscillia Benford, Narrative Architect, Criscillia Benford Architecture

Criscillia Benford’s company trains people to find, design, and tell stories that resonate with self and others. She has also taught literature and humanities courses at the University of Chicago, Duke, and Stanford. She received a PhD from Stanford.

Anna Trester, Founder, Career Linguist

Anna Marie Trester has performed onstage as an improviser and storyteller, and has taught courses in improvisation at Washington Improv Theater, storytelling at Better Said Than Done, and linguistics at Georgetown, Howard, and SF State. She is the author of Bringing Linguistics to Work and co-editor with Deborah Tannen of Discourse 2.0: Language and New Media. She received a PhD from Georgetown.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.