Saturday, August 29, 2009

[02] Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

Conflict, just like communication, is part and parcel of life. I'm pretty sure every single one of us has experienced disagreements with friends, family members, schoolmates, superiors and subordinates, or even random strangers we encounter. (Admit it, you must have run into at least one rude salesperson who expressed displeasure simply because you were just browsing and had no intention to buy anything.)

Since everyone is wired differently, it is inevitable that we have different views. This discrepancy in perspective and method of handling issues leads to conflict.

What a mess the world would be in if everyone was at loggerheads with each other all the time!

Thank goodness for our innate ability to relate to other people (even if some people are better at it than others are). However, having this ability isn't enough; we still need to learn to utilize it effectively, and the only way to do this is to practise.

Let us consider the following situation, which is probably familiar to many.

Cast - Parent, child.
(Let's just arbitrarily assign a gender to each of the persons involved, say, mother and son.
Alright, for convenience's sake, let's just name the son... Stan.)

Setting - Home.

Plot synopsis- Mother and son got into an argument because he wanted to go out with his friends, but she wouldn't hear of it.

Stan: Mom, can I go and play basketball with my friends?
Mom: No, your 'O' level exams are coming. You should be studying at home.
Stan: I've already finished my homework and revision for next week!
Mom: No, you'll be too tired by the time you get home, and you still have school tomorrow.

(The exchange goes on until Stan gives up and storms off to his bedroom.)

Disclaimer - This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Looking at this issue from an outsider's point of view, we can see that the parent is just trying to show concern for her child, who seems unable to appreciate her efforts. Both parties are probably frustrated that their point isn't getting across, but are unwilling to come to a compromise as well. (I've been in Stan's shoes before; this kind of situation just results in an unhappy atmosphere at home.)

So. What do you think? Suggestions to resolve this issue will be most welcome! (Yeah, please save me from watching this scene on replay every week at home. Hahah.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

[01] Effective Communication Skills

The act of communication occurs so frequently in our lives that most of us hardly give a thought to it. In all honesty, I've never pondered about how I was communicating with others before I signed up for this class.

Communication skills are important to me because I've experienced first-hand how meanings can get misconstrued. Often, when I'm working on projects with schoolmates, good intentions get mistaken for accusations, which lead to tension within the group. My guess is that such misunderstandings are due to our not knowing how to express our feelings or thoughts in a way that is appropriate to the situation. Should every group member have had effective communication skills, such unpleasantness could have been avoided.

If these problems are already surfacing in school project groups, they’ll probably be magnified in the workplace. Communication skills will thus play a big role in helping to foster good working relationships with my colleagues in the future. Conflicts will definitely arise in the process of working together, but I believe that with the necessary skills, such disagreements will be resolved quickly and efficiently.

If the ability to send and receive messages accurately in a work-related setting is important, then it is even more so when we talk to friends and loved ones. Although these people readily forgive our misgivings, it is unfair to them if we are slipshod in the way we communicate with them. Since effective communication involves active listening, having a good grasp of it will help us to listen, not merely hear what others are saying. This will increase our understanding of people around us and improve our personal relationships.

We, as human beings, are social creatures. It is quite impossible for us to live in our own little bubble without any interaction with people around us. Unless we can live as single entities, effective communication skills will be essential in helping us to bond with people.

I'm looking forward to learning these skills which will help me better my interpersonal relations!