Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Final Reflection

Looking back at my first blog, my understanding on the importance of communication has increased appreciably. Firstly, my view on effective communication then focuses on verbal communication, but I have come to realize the importance of the other two forms of communication, non-verbal and written communication. This is especially true on non verbal communication. I have realized that I am communicating non-verbally 24 hours a day. From the way I carry myself in the day to my sleeping position at night, I have been sending signals to tell others how I am feeling at each point in time. I also understand that people can still make use of non verbal communication to send out signals to mislead others. This is mentioned in my blog on non verbal communication. Therefore I think non verbal communication is a powerful tool depending on the person who wields the tool.

The 3 months in this module has taught me a lot. My first intention to take this module was to set myself some time to write my resume and cover letter on the job that I want to apply. To my benefit, this module encompass a lot more, such as 7Cs in report writing, intercultural behavior, blogging, letter and formal report writing and doing a group project. The part that I enjoyed the most was the process in doing the group project with Ji Fang and Johnny. In the group, everyone had a part to play, and everybody’s suggestions were taken into consideration in order to come up with our final report and presentation. Although each of us has our own grumbles to meet every Saturday morning, all of us dutifully come down on each meeting for our discussion. Through this group project experience, I had a developed a deeper friendship and understanding with them. Also I would like to thank Kenny for my grammar error free blogs. It would be nice to have the established script writer in our team.

The presentation experience was really an eye opener; some of our classmates presented really well and it was a good learning experience which I can used to reflect back on my own presentation skills. Finally, we have come to the last stage of this module which is the cover letter and resume writing plus a mock interview. This is the stage that I have to continue on my own and I hope I can complete them relatively well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Ever since he studied Marine Engineering in his polytechnic years, Swee Guan has a keen interest in the Marine Industry. This has led him to complete two internships, one as an assistant Safety Officer in Keppel Shipyard and another as a cadet engineer on a ship. His interest to put theory into practice leads him to continue his apprenticeship as an engineer cadet on a container vessel after graduation. Being adaptable and friendly in nature, he was able to communicate and work well with the officers and crew hailing from different countries. The hardships faced on sea have helped shaped him to be a more appreciative person and taught him not to take things for granted.

To improve his knowledge, Swee Guan studied Mechanical Engineering in the National University of Singapore. Through the course of study, Swee Guan discovered his interest in failure analysis in materials, which is a process of collecting and analysing data to determine the cause of failure in a component as well as its preventions. This has encouraged him to study materials related technical electives to broaden his knowledge.

Besides studying, Swee Guan also found time to pursue his interests in endurance sports. His interests in swimming and running enabled him to complete a marathon and several biathlons. His passion in swimming leads him to take up lifesaving and CPR courses in NUS so that he can render his help to anyone in need.
Lastly, Swee Guan is a firm believer in perseverance over adversity. No mountains are too high and no roads are too long if one sets his mind to complete it. It is with this mantra that strengthens Swee Guan to overcome the obstacles he faced in his pursuit of his goals.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The power of non verbal communication

Communication in general is a process of sending and receiving messages that enables humans to share knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Although we usually identify communication with speech, communication can be done both verbally and nonverbally.Non verbal communication (NVC) can be communicated through a large number of channels such as facial expressions, posture, voice tone, dress sense, spatial distance between two or more people etc.

While many people may think observing one’s non verbal communication can give you tell tale signs whether a person is lying through his teeth, there are a lot of prominent people who purposely make use of non verbal communication to trick and convince people into believing them. George Madoff is a good example. He was able to run a Ponzi scheme not only bylying through his teeth but also by making sure his non verbal communication supports what he does.

In a newspaper report on Sunday Times, recalling the experience of an investor’s meeting with George Madoff, it was mentioned that George Madoff struck him as a “very savvy, credible and confident person.” In their meeting, he missed cues when he questioned about Madoff’s operations. In order to pressurize him to make a hasty decision, George keeps looking into his watch and displayed an attitude of “Look, it’s really up to you, no pressure kind of thing”. Furthermore, Madoff was able to make the situation seems like he is doing him a favour by saying he is bending his own rule on the minimum amount of US$1 million.

Over onlocal shores, we have James Phang, the founder of the now defunct Sunshine Empire which reportedly earned S$189 million through investment schemes. Perception was everything in the Sunshine Empire. According to the Straits Times report, the company's office at Toa Payoh Hub was lavishly furnished with gold trimmings and lush carpeting. Its lobby was about the size of a basketball court.

Not only was their company big, so were their business plans. Its property arm boasted various developments and projects in Malaysia of grand scale. In order to lure more people to invest in its company, most of the managers in the Sunshine were in their twenties to early thirties, dressed smartly in black suits carrying Montblanc pens and wallets. To make it more convincing, some of them even drove Mercedes-Benzs and BMWs. This gaveothers the perception of how easy it was to make a quick buck if you are willing to work hard which in turn draws a total of twenty thousand investors.

From the above examples, we can see the power of non verbal communication and its effectiveness. Depending on the minds of the users, NVC can be used as a tool to help them achieve their goals. The above examples cite those infamous figures that were caught while seemingly doing others a greater good. Because of these people, the world is now a tougher place to live in. People find it difficult to believe in one another, and thus it will take a huge effort to convince others again. My question is how then can we remove this air of mistrust and convince ourselves to believe again?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Scenario on intercultural behavior

Scenario on intercultural behavior
This is a scenario that Kalene ‘s group acted out. It is about her outing experience with her friends from Spain. She had arranged to meet them at 3pm one day to catch a movie. When she arrived punctually at 3pm that day, she waited almost one hour before her female Spanish friend arrived. When she arrived, she was immaculately dressed but didn’t apologize for her lateness. If that was not shocking, her female friend casually told her that their common friend, Bernard also from Spain will be ‘late’ as he was still combing his hair. In the end, Kalene had to wait two hours for both of her friends before they went out.
It turns out that it was normal for Spanish to be late without giving any prior notice. Being a “on the ball” Singaporean, this was something that Kalene had to get used to. In order to minimise waiting time on future outings, she would smartly fixed a meeting time and then come one hour later.

As a Singaporean living in Singapore, I share common cultural traits such as the 3Ks, Kiasu, Kiasi, and Kia whatever. However besides these very important survival characteristics, we actually have other desirable traits as well. For example, it is a social norm for Singaporeans not to be late for more than 30 minutes and if we are really going to be terribly late, we would give the other party a call to inform. (I thought this is culture universal)
I can only imagine how Kaylene felt in that agonizing two hours wait, the equivalence of finishing a past year exam paper, rushing out a lab report, writing a weekly blog, or catching a precious sleep for the late night earlier. There was so much that one can accomplish in that “gone forever “two hours.
However it is also our cultural trait not to express our opinions openly. I bet Kaylene must be seething with anger inside her, but since she is a Singaporean, it would be unwise to shout at her newfound Spanish friends openly in public.
I wonder if she ever spoke to her Spanish friends about punctuality. Because if she had, she would not have to use another of our cultural trait, which is pragmatism, that is to arrive one hour later than the arranged time. I would have done the same. (High five).
In fairness, I thought we should give her Spanish friends the benefit of doubt as they are new to our country and might not know how to get around well. In order to effectively communicate with them, perhaps Kalene can find a quiet setting, and share opinions with them. We are after all living in a society, it is important for us to interact and communicate with each other

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Letter of Warning

Dear Lay Ting,

We pride ourselves on being a “Customer Based Business” and do not look highly on personnel who are reported in regards to poor customer service.
We have had several reports of your disinterest in assisting our customers. Over the last few weeks, we have had many customers specifically stating that you had engaged in disrespectful conversations towards them. There have also been reports that you totally ignored some customers
This type of conduct will not be tolerated at Topmart. If these actions are not rectified immediately, disciplinary action will be taken up to and including termination. I am confident that this situation will be resolved without further action or conduct from the company.

Mr Timothy Tan
Manager of Topmart

The above is a letter of warning given to Lay Ting regarding her poor attitude towards her customers. Firstly, the letter needs a letterhead, date and a subject heading to improve its correctness. The tone used in the letter was strict without losing its courtesy. In terms of conciseness, the passive sentence “do not look highly……poor customer service” can be changed to an active one. Instead, “we require our personnel to provide good service to our valued customers” not only stated the expectation required of the personnel but also highlighted the importance of customers’ satisfaction to the company.

Instead of merely mentioning several reports were received on her disinterest towards customers, the letter would be more concrete by stating the number of complaints received and elaborating on a particular incident that caught her in the act. The letter was clear to point out the company’s expectation of their personnel and the consequence if it is not followed. In general, the warning letter can be considered to be complete as the reader understands why she had received it, the remedial action required, as well as the consequences if she did not adhere to the action.

Friday, January 30, 2009

An interpersonal conflict Case Study

Role A-Incredible Sulk
You are a third year student doing an engineering design project with four other members. Your project is to design and manufacture a wheelchair. After the design has been finalized, you have been tasked to come up with the steps involved in the manufacturing process. After brainstorming for days and being bothered by the task for weeks, you have meticulously drawn up the required steps for manufacture. Being in charge of the manufacturing process, you assigned the other members to cut the raw materials to size before assembly. During the assembly, you realized that one of your members have not followed your instructions and cut the part wrongly. To make things worse, there is no spare material left for a re-cut and the project is due in two weeks time. You kicked up a big fuss and shouted at him. In the process, you scolded him “STUPID Idiot.”

Role B- Stupid Idiot
You are one of the members in the group. You know that Incredible Sulk is a very difficult person to work with. He is not receptive to ideas and is someone difficult to communicate with. In addition, he has quite a temper when things are not done his way. You have been tasked to cut a part to size according to a piece of shabby scratch drawn by him. You made a mistake as a result and were insulted.

Question1: If you are role B, how would you react to the rant and insult by Incredible Sulk? What could you do to prevent the incident from happening?
Question2: If you are the leader of the group, what would you do to mediate the situation?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why developing effective communication skills is important for me?

The problem of ineffective communication happens at all levels. In the workplace, what the manager speaks and what the employee perceives can be very different. Using the announcement of the job offer in the Saudi Arabia, perhaps the idea the manager wanted to convey was that the opportunity to work in Saudi Arabia is great and he has chosen the employee among others as the best candidate with a great chance of promotion when he returns. But if he had communicated in a dull and solemn manner, the employee might perceive the same message as something otherwise. In school, when we work in groups, there are times when we feel that we have a good idea to put across, but if we convey the idea ineffectively, the good idea will most likely be rejected due to poor clarity and things like that. At a personal level, ineffective communication may lead to shouting matches with your friends or loved ones making everyone angry with each other. Therefore developing our communication skills can help us convey our ideas effectively in many situations.
In my opinion, talking is different from speaking and hearing is different from listening. Engaging in effective communication is not just talking about your ideas and hearing what the other party has to say. Speaking involves a process to clarify the idea in your mind before conveying it to the concerned party while listening involves an effort to register in your mind what the speaker has to say. For example in lectures, I can hear 100% of what lecturer has to say but only listened up to 10% . How then can we speak effectively and listened attentively? Maybe the answer is in “The Science of Effective Communication in the Workplace”. J