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.

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