Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Appreciate and respect others...and you'll communicate better =)

I would like to share something which I have learnt from a very bad personal experience. It is something I have learnt NOT to do when someone (repeatedly) did it to me.

Lesson number 1: Appreciate others no matter how little their contribution seems.

Someday we might have a chance to lead a project team or an organisation. We might also be working with other people to accomplish a common goal. However, often, we overlook the effort other people put in especially if they do not 'blare their horns' to tell you that they did something. We often could only see how hard WE worked. So, before critisizing anyone for their lack of contribution, think for a minute that perhaps he/she did try. Maybe it is just not working out.

Also, as humans, we are often too quick to judge others, yet do not want others to judge us based on what we seem on the surface (which might not be the true us at all). So, I feel that it is really important to realise that every individual is unique and to try to appreciate the fact that others are different from us. The way they perceive the world, and the way they carry out their tasks are often very different from what we think is 'the right way'.

So before we even think of critisizing others for doing things the 'wrong way' or even getting upset that he/she did not contribute as much as we did, I feel that it doesn't hurt if we try to appreciate their efforts anyway. A simple 'thank you' here and there could make the world a better place. =)

Lesson number 2: Always respect others and always put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Let me tell you a TRUE story of what happened to me previously (which was the beginning of a very bad working relationship with someone):

We were working together to host an annual appreciation dinner for our CCA club. It was nearing the big day, but she was really busy with her labs and everything else. She did not ask me to help, but I thought it would be nice to help her out, since I am not as busy anyway. So, I offered to do up the schedule for the big day (which would have the timelines containing the things to be done and who would do what, and when). I stayed up the entire night doing it up and when it was done, I emailed her the completed schedule and happily went to sleep, thinking that I've done a pretty good job.

When I woke up the next morning, I opened my email inbox, and there it was - an email reply from her. In the email...there wasn't a single word of 'thank you' or any words which resembled appreciation. It was only a very long email packed with harsh critisisms - a whole page of it!!
Also, to my horror, a few people were cc-ed.
I was embarrassed, frustrated and angry that she did not respect me as a person because she put my abilities and efforts down right in front of them all. She could have critisised me privately, if she felt that she really needed to.

Would you do the same thing she did?

From that experience, I learnt not to do something like that. Everyone has pride in him/herself, and pride in what he/she does. We should always appreciate and respect what they do.

I feel that sometimes we do not even need to know the '7Cs of effective communication' (although I have to admit that they are useful) but simply understand that other people have the same fundamental needs as we do - the need for respect and appreciation. I believe, knowing and practicing that is the very first step in effective communication, and in establishing good working relationships (or any kind of relationships) with others. Nonetheless, this is something that cannot be taught in the classroom. It takes basic sensitivity and conscious effort to practice respect and appreciation for others.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's the end of the module...

It really is true that time flies...I could still remember vividly the day when I opened my email inbox to find an advertisement for ES2007S, and my eyes almost popped right out of their sockets because that was precisely the module I needed!

It was so exciting to finally be able to decide on a module I want to take that I did not go very in-depth on what the workload and everything is. I suppose it was my usual over-confidence that things will turn out fun and wonderful. Besides, I would get to meet new why not?

I couldn't go for the first lesson because I had my rather frequent diarrhoea problem (sometimes I suspect that I have irritable bowel syndrome...I get it so easily =/). I was, therefore, pretty lost when I went for the second class.
Worse, it was during the second class that Boon Woei passed me a thick stack of papers bound together, and asked me to take a look. It said 'proposal' at the front...and I asked innocently, "...what is this? why do we have to look at it?..."
When he told me that we would have to do up a proposal for the module, I went "..OMG! S***!...I didn't know this..." I was quite upset because I took another module with a pretty heavy project at the same time, and I wasn't sure I would be able to handle the work.

But well...since I chose the module, I was not ready to give up at that point. Besides, I really did want to improve myself and I know nothing about writing a proposal, so I was thinking that it would be prefect for me (I know...I really am good at rationalising). =P

I admit it...there were times I enjoyed the module so much that I went " is worth it" and there were times when I went "...sigh..I chose the wrong module..again!".
The former is because of the many engaging sessions like the mock interviews. I thoroughly enjoyed being the!
The latter is because of the workload...and the days when I had skipped a whole night of sleep to finish the work. Thank goodness, my groupmates are really nice and understanding. I appreciate working with them a lot. =D

Having said that, I feel that all in all, the module was, is and will always be useful for me. I learnt a lot of things, especially about my strengths and weaknesses. I also learnt a lot about what business communication should be like...
Also, I find the stories Christine tells about the days she was in Australia and about her other experiences to be really enlightening.

Finally, the one very important thing that I gained by taking this module is friends. I know I'm not especially close with everyone, but I do enjoy being in the class with all of you, and I do wish that we could have had more opportunities to get to know each other better. Well...there is always facebook =P
I found a good friend in Chun Fong too...and surprisingly, we didn't only talk about the proposal and all the work-related stuff...we talked about many many other things besides. I hope that we'll still be friends even after this module...and hopefully for a long time =)
Also, I've had more chance to get to know Boon Woei. I knew him before this module because he's my boyfriend's friend (and no, I did not plan on taking the module with was a pure coincidence) but I never actually got to really know him. Well...I'm glad I did...=)

So...I am actually really glad I took this module...the benefits I gained has really been beyond academic. =)

My reflection on my oral presentation

I know...this is one week! But let's just pretend that I've spent one week reflecting on my oral presentation, and yes...I did reflect on it.

Well..looking back on my peer teaching oral presentation (on the topic of 'delivering good news and bad news') Christine mentioned that I was not very prepared, which is true. I sort of simply did it in a rather impromptu manner, with the false self-confidence that as long as I knew the material I was going to present, I would be able to breeze through it.
Apparently not...It was better for me to be prepared after all.

Let me recount the other two times I have made oral presentations in this semester (apart from the ones I did for this module).

The first one was actually right before the peer teaching oral presentation. I had to talk about the project I led to a lecture theatre full of people...and because I was rather nervous about it (due to the sheer size of the audience) and because I wanted to make a very good impression I actually did prepare...and wrote a script. Although in the end, I did not use the script I prepared, I was able to present very comfortably and smoothly.

The second one was during an interview for NOC. It was a group interview, and we were divided into two groups. We were given a business situation to solve (in 15 minutes) and then we had to take turns to present it on the spot. Obviously, I had close to no time to prepare for the presentation because the 15 minutes was used up before we realised it (we had to discuss it and write our ideas down on a sheet of 'mahjong' paper). Worse, we had only 5 minutes for the entire presentation, and since I was the last to could probably imagine that I had only a few seconds to make a good impression (because the rest of the time had been used up by the rest=/). My presentation was very impromptu and I simply said whatever I had in mind. Before I could even finish, however, the interviewer called 'time's up', not caring that I was mid-sentence. LOL! It was quite an experience...

Finally, we had the oral presentation for our proposal. I would say that our group did a pretty good job with research and all, and from what I could see, my team mates have presented very well.=)
As for me, I think this time, I spoke in a louder voice...and I think that I did a better job compared to my peer-teaching presentation. Also, because I could not use many slides...I couldn't do much with animations and all, but I hope my slides were not confusing.
The only thing is that I seem to be really horrible with the laser! Maybe it's better if I were to use a slightly simpler gadget in future. =P
However, I think that, maybe I could still improve on my speaking skills...hmmph...maybe inject a little bit more humour in my presentation..or maybe be slightly less self-conscious.

And...I'll make sure to wear proper shoes in future too!! Thanks, Christine...I'll take note of that! =)

Enough about what I think. What about you? What do you think of my presentation? I would appreciate any feedbacks. =D

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Intercultural conflict, or improper physical contact? Friendly guy or pervert?

Personally I have no experience with intercultural conflicts, or at least I think I don't...

A few years ago, I joined a conference made up of people from different countries. There were people from Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Norway, Finland, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and many more that I can't even remember now. We all stayed together in a small boutique hotel (in fact, I think we took up most of the rooms there). We ate together, conferenced, and even slept together. As you could see, this could potentially be a situation where intercultural conflicts could arise.

One night, my korean room mate and I heard a knock on our door, and it was a Pakistani guy asking if we would like to play cards. We invited him into our room without much thought, thinking that more people will be coming. We talked and laughed about different things but soon, this guy got very touchy-feely. He started rubbing our feet and we got extremely uncomfortable about it. I 'ran away' to another friend's room while my Korean friend went to the lobby. It was a very bad experience for us both. However, to this day, I do not know if this is a way men from his culture show friendliness and affection.

We did not see him or confront him about it after that, but we simply told other participants. Later, quite long after the conference ended, I received a phone call from the head organiser, asking me to recount the tale of what happened that night. I wonder what happened to him after that...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My personal statement

My interest in pursuing a career in human resource sparked when I was working as a telephone receptionist in the NUS student service centre. I discovered that I had the patience and passion for giving quality customer service and I found that I gain satisfaction from working with people, listening to them, and interacting with them. Hence, I also realised that my strengths lie in the business of people as I am a highly rational person but with a natural empathy for people, and it is in this field that I would be able to succeed.

I am a fresh graduate from the National University of Singapore. My degree is a life sciences degree, and I believe that studying life sciences had been useful for the career path I have chosen. This particular field of study has honed my eye for details, my writing skills, my patience in reading long journal papers, and most of all, my analytical ability. They would be highly useful for a career in human resources as I would require the patience and analytical ability when working with people. However, the most important ability that I have honed throughout my undergraduate career is the ability to continuously learn new things, and the patience and enthusiasm in learning. This is of utmost importance as I am embarking on a career that is different from my course of study.

Putting my studies in university aside, I have also been actively involved in co-curricular activities. From my first year of studies to my final year, I have only been involved in one particular organisation, which is NUSSU Volunteer Action Committee (NVAC). This shows that I am a highly loyal and committed individual. Throughout my involvement in the organisation, I have taken up many different portfolios including Project Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Volunteer Welfare Director and have also tried my hands in marketing. I have successfully recruited and retained volunteers when I held the position of Volunteer Welfare Director. The other portfolios I held gave me different types of experiences and insights into working with people of diverse backgrounds, mindsets and abilities, and I love the challenges that each posed.

As such, my job as a telephone receptionist, my undergraduate study and my involvements in NVAC has not only deepened my passion in a career in human resource, but has also prepared me adequately for the challenges in this field.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Application cover leter - recruitment trainee

Hi all,

The URL to the job advertisement is

As there is no address (resumes are to be sent via email), I could not include the recipient’s address.


Lee You Tze (Ms)
Singapore 119081

7 September 2009

Application for the Post of Recruitment Trainee

I am writing with interest in applying for the post of recruitment trainee as advertised in I believe I am suited for this position as I possess a keen interest in human resources, zeal for learning as well as the relevant qualifications and skills.

I am a fresh graduate of the National University of Singapore with a degree in Life Sciences. Although I graduated from a life sciences program, I am highly interested in pursuing a career in human resources management because I enjoy working and communicating with people. Hence, during my study at NUS, I took modules in management and human resources from the NUS Business School.

Besides that, I have also gained valuable customer service experiences while working in the NUS Student Service Centre. I work very well in a team and am very self-driven when working independently or when working in a team. I have also gained leadership and event organisation experiences as core members of management committees and have successfully recruited and retained volunteers as a Volunteer Welfare Director.

Recruit Express is a leading human resources recruitment agency and has won accolades in this field. Being a dynamic company providing top notch staffing solutions and value-added services, Recruit Express ensures a stimulating and challenging working environment.

I am confident that I will be able to contribute to your company as I am a meticulous, motivated and highly organised person. I have the passion in providing quality customer service and bringing out the best in people.

I have included a letter of reference from my previous employee as well as a copy of my resume for your kind consideration. I will be glad to attend an interview with you at any convenient time and am contactable at 82827562 or I am looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.

Best regards,
Lee You Tze (Ms)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Should they bite each other's heads off?

This is a story of an interpersonal conflict that could occur because of bad communication methods. I am writing this story from the point of view of Cecilia. How would you solve it if you were Cecilia?

Read on =)

Time/ place setting – The society for the preservation of animal welfare (PAW), NUS/ semester 1

Jane – Jane is the vice chairperson of the society. Her significant other is also in the committee.

Cecilia - Cecilia is the Secretary of the society. Like Jane, her significant other is in the committee.

It was the beginning of the semester. Cecilia and Jane as well as their significant others have just been selected to be part of the management committee (PAW). All of them knew each other from the previous semester although they have never really worked together.

Being a person with a corporate mindset, Jane was worried that having two couples in the same management committee would compromise professionalism.

Jane then asked Cecilia’s significant other to advise her to adhere to professionalism throughout the term. Cecilia became upset.

How Cecilia feels:

· Cecilia felt that she was not given enough trust to be professional enough.

· Cecilia also felt that it was quite an insult to her capabilities.

· Cecilia felt that Jane should have talked to her herself if she needs to advise him. Having a third party do it also showed that Jane was not behaving professionally herself.

· Because Cecilia’s significant other was the one doing the advising, she felt that he did not trust her to be professional too.

How Jane might have felt:

· She wanted to prevent anything bad from happening before it actually had a chance to happen

· She didn’t know how to broach the subject to Cecilia and thought that it will be better to let Cecilia’s significant other do the talking.

If you were Cecilia, what would you do? Cecilia is definitely hurt because her abilities were being doubted even before she could do anything to prove it.

What if she did show that she is unhappy about this but Jane ignored her? Should she still try to solve the problem (although Jane is clearly not interested in solving it) or should she do her job but ignore Jane?