Here's a great little article on a group of 285 Indian girls who are having their names changed from names that meant "unwanted" to names of goddesses, Bollywood stars, or names that are simply positive. This is just one effort to combat discrimination but it's an interesting one from a communication point of view. It's also a great lead-in to a discussion of the importance of what we call ourselves and others.
Other-orientation is a quality of interpersonal effectiveness that includes the ability to adapt your messages to the other person. It involves communicating attentiveness to and interest in the other person and genuine interest in what the person says.
Communicating Other-Orientation. You’ll recognize the following behaviors in those with whom you enjoy talking. As you read these suggestions you’ll note that these are also likely to serve the impression formation function of being liked.
With the recent death of Steve Jobs--one of the real geniuses of our time--I thought that public speaking students (and actually just about anyone) would enjoy reading a commencement speech he delivered some years ago. I think this is a wonderful speech and I tried to reprint it in the last edition of my public speaking book but, unfortunately, permission was denied. But, it's a great speech and, fortunately, readily available online. I think students will find this interesting, relevant, instructive, and inspirational.
Here's an interesting post analyzing SuperNanny and Nanny 911 as reality. It can easily be used in connection with media literacy or critical thinking. Identifying the unreality of reality TV would make an interesting classroom exercise.
Here is a brief explanation--all too brief probably--of cultural sensitivity as it applies particularly to communication. Cultural sensitivity is an attitude and way of behaving in which you’re aware of and acknowledge cultural differences; it’s crucial for such global goals as world peace and economic growth as well as for effective interpersonal communication (Franklin & Mizell, 1995). Without cultural sensitivity there can be no effective interpersonal communication between people who are different in gender or race or nationality or affectional orientation. So be mindful of the cultural differences between yourself and the other person. The techniques of interpersonal communication that work well with European Americans may not work well with Asian Americans; what proves effective in Japan may not in Mexico. The close physical distance that is normal in Arab cultures may seem too familiar or too intrusive in much of the United States and northern Europe. The empathy that most Americans welcome may be uncomfortable for most Koreans, Japanese, or Chinese.