Faculty lecture at Pellissippi State focuses on communication choices

“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit” 

We build our internal universe out of language.

Pellissippi State Community College speech communication faculty Anita Maddox and Shaquille Marsh will explore this concept – and provide tools to help you make effective language choices to minimize pain – in their upcoming lecture “O No U Ditin’: Levels of Abstraction and Perception in Communication Choices.”

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Faculty Lecture Series and The Arts at Pellissippi State. It will be held at 11:50 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

“Speech is immediate and actually changes the neurons firing in the listener’s brain,” explained Maddox, an associate professor of speech communication. “What comes out of your mouth changes the people who hear it. You can’t take it back. You can’t undo it.”

What you can do, she said, is become aware of your language and use specific tools to be more effective at coordinating and managing meaning between yourself and others.

Maddox and Marsh are presenting the faculty lecture together to explore the scholarship behind semantics, ladders of abstraction and the process of perception – as well as some practical applications.

“Speech is more than just talking,” stressed Marsh, a speech communication instructor who also coaches Pellissippi State’s debate team. “We need to understand ourselves and coordinate with others to craft realities we can share across a broad spectrum of experience.”

The use of non-gender-specific pronouns is one example.

“It may not matter to you, but it matters to someone else,” added Maddox. “When people say to someone disparagingly, ‘You’re so politically correct,’ I want to point out that, ‘No, not really. This language is more accurate.’”

Maddox’s and Marsh’s presentation will move from the vague to the specific, with real-life examples they feel will resonate with the audience.

“Our goal is to have fun and learn at the same time,” Marsh said of the faculty lecture . “You choose your words whether you are conscious of it or not. Hopefully, a little deeper understanding of how that works and more options for how to choose will help you mitigate painful situations.”

For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, as well the Faculty Lecture Series, at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts. To request accommodations for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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