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