Monday, November 9, 2009

[08] Final Reflection

I think everyone has come a long way from the first lesson back in week 2 of school. From stonefaced students just sitting there listening to Christine's lectures to the friendly banter with each other now, it's really been great getting to know everyone and learning together.

There were a few less-exciting lessons, like those on letter-writing and presentation skills, which have been taught before in secondary education. I enjoyed learning about emotional quotient (EQ) and non-verbal communication, which were quite new to me (i.e. I've never learnt about them in a formal classroom setting).

I guess in a module like this, the most important thing is to practise, practise, and practise. All the concepts in the world would be useless if we didn't applied them. I daresay that the lessons (boring or not) proved useful, because I've been applying them in situations outside of class, e.g. in CCA-related correspondences with external parties.

I remember making mention of wanting to better my interpersonal relations in my first blog entry. Though I might not have perfected the necessary communication skills, I believe that with continual practice, I will only improve with time.

Here's wishing everyone all the best!

[07] Reflection on Oral Presentation

It wasn't entirely disastrous, though there were still many aspects that could be improved on.

I always have this nagging anxiety about forgetting my lines during a presentation, so I tend to want to have cue cards in my hand for reassurance. Perhaps I could have challenged myself by not using these cards at all. The fear of blanking out would still be there, but there would have been more eye contact with the audience, and I would have appeared more confident (provided that I really didn't blank out).

One thing I'd like to work on is the time taken for me to settle into the presentation. I still felt slightly nervous during the initial part of my section, and only relaxed more towards the end. As first impressions count a lot in such settings, it is important that we immediately come across as pleasant and self-assured when the presentation starts.

In general, the presentation went rather smoothly, and the pace was alright. We could have had more rehearsals so that we were more confident of our own sections, and of each other's. Compared to other groups, we had more visuals in our presentation slides. These visuals could have distracted the audience from the content of our presentation, but I felt they helped to make the presentation interesting. That said, the number of special effects could be decreased so that the slides were more professional-looking.

I'd also like to thank S@vvy for being such an awesome project partner, and for all his hard work. (Muchly appreciated!)

[06] Open Topic: Other Communication Issues

The way one communicates speaks a lot about his/her character.

I've recently had an encounter with a someone (let's call her A) who was rather direct, perhaps overly so. During a meeting, she brought up a personal issue against person B, who was also present but was greater in seniority. Although it was a passing remark and no conflict occurred between them, others there had formed a negative impression of her, simply by the one line she said to B.

The appropriateness of setting was probably a factor, but her tone played a greater role in causing others to form ideas about her character. I can't replicate the exact tone of her voice here, but the general consensus was that she appeared to be rude and had no respect for others.

Another incident in which she had to make a request also incurred the displeasure of others. While asking person C to do her a favour, she messaged C (a superior, but also someone A knows personally) in an instructional tone.

Do you think she should be told about the effect her tone has on others? If yes, how should she be told, and by whom?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

[05] Evaluating Intercultural Behaviour

Singapore, being a multicultural society, has had its share of cultural conflicts. These misunderstandings used to pervade entire communities, but now people are generally more respectful towards each other's cultural practices, thus avoiding the occurence of large-scale conflicts.

The absence of major conflicts does not mean that we can be complacent and pay little heed to etiquette when interacting with other. I find the following minor (albeit slightly unpleasant) incident to be rather telling.

A group of friends, inclusive of people of various races and religions, were having a meal.

Wayne* (to Aishah*, a Muslim): Y'know, I think you'll look better if you trim your eyebrows.
Aishah: My religion doesn't allow me to do so.
Wayne: Haven't you ever considered trimming them? My friend did it and she looks prettier.

Aishah went on to explain about Islamic practices but Wayne did not appear to be receptive.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.

Click here if you're interested to find out a bit more about fitrah, the most pure and natural state of being in Islam. (I know there're people who know more about this than I do, so please correct me if I'm wrong!)

It could be that Wayne was simply insensitive, but I believe that this is not an isolated case. Although people of different races get along pretty well nowadays, there is still a lack of sufficient knowledge about practices and beliefs of other cultures. As a result, we might unknowingly offend people around us.

That said, we should still be forgiving towards others, for only then will Singapore remain peaceful and harmonious.