Monday, November 9, 2009

Final Reflection: Adieu ES2007S

It is the final weeks before semester officially ends. As much as I look forward to the end of semester, I do regret that the module ES2007S is also coming to a completion. Recently, as I was scanning through the guidelines to complete my Ecology lab reports, part of it mentioned “executive summary”. I was excited to see it! I have come across it during the course of the module; so, it made me happy that I know what it was all about. Taking this module has provided me with useful knowledge and skills for future use.

What made me choose to do this module is the idea that I would be able to learn things that were never taught in schools before. Things like, writing a resume, going for interviews, conducting presentations. Even though I have experienced them, I never actually had formal education on them.  I had the impression that students who were gifted with eloquence or highly confident by nature also have good communicative skills. However, after going through this module, I feel that everybody can be a good communicator. They just need to observe and practice the right methods in order to do so. So, even if a person is introverted by nature, it does not mean that he will have lower chances of acing an interview or presentation.

The skills that I have learned from this module will definitely help me in the near future. I like that I have had hands-on practice on writing a resume, cover letter, personal statement. With these skills, I now know what is expected when I have to apply for a job or internship. Other skills like proposal writing will very much be useful when I have to write my own for an event that I might partake in as organizers. Indirectly, learning these has influenced me to want to improve on my writing style, to polish my vocabulary and work on my command of English. I feel it is important to have a good mastery of the language aside from the skills to be able to communicate effectively.

On top of those skills, I am now able to practice some of the soft skills we have learnt. What is funny about this is that I find myself observing how others express themselves when they communicate. This is the outcome of understanding the fundamentals of body language and its relevance in communication. I am more sensitive in the way I express myself, to avoid any miscommunications and misunderstandings. I am also able to tolerate the way other people behave and communicate and this helps to improve relationships, both professional and personal.

In all, I am satisfied to have made an effort to complete this module. The knowledge and skills that I have gained are not something that I learn for the sake of learning, but are also feasible and applicable in real life. I hope to put them to great use.

I appreciate my classmates, my teammate Huiling and Christine for an enjoyable learning adventure for this course (:  

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reflections on my ORAL PRESENTATION

My Oral Presentation

Last Thursday, my team-mate Huiling and I took our turn for oral presentation.  To rate our overall presentation, I feel that we have performed to our expectations. However, I do believe there are some aspects of the presentation that I could improve on.

Some things that went well for my presentation:

Generally, I felt that my delivery went well. I managed to convey my ideas eloquently most of the time. I made an attempt to be fluent and to speak clearly and slowly. I made eye contact with the audience for the most part and did not have to depend on my cue cards, although they did come in handy once in a while. During Q & A, I felt that I have handled the questions well, with an indication that my group has put some thought into our proposal.
Even so, I had problems using the wireless pointer. I think at one point during the presentation, it looked as though I was incompetent in using something that should have made things more convenient. I can only blame, not the gadget, but myself for not spending enough time rehearsing my presentation with it. Practising at home in front of the laptop is certainly not the same as the real thing. It affected my performance after that, although I hope that I managed to handle the blip professionally and calmly. It would have made matters worse if I had not. It might reflect that I was more nervous than I should have been.

Other than technical difficulties, I felt that I could have had more time to settle my nerves. Unfortunately, we came just in time for our presentation and I could not sufficiently prepare myself mentally for the presentation. This could have been avoided if I had come earlier to allow some buffer time to gather my thoughts and put myself together. Also I think a good night’s rest is essential. Without proper rest, I felt that my delivery lacked energy which could have livened up the presentation a bit more so that I can capture my audience’s attention.

In terms of slide ware, I think our presentation could have been more pleasing to the eye with the inclusion of videos and pictures. Nonetheless, we hoped to achieve a more professional look to our presentation and so, we refrained from using cartoon pictures to supplement our slides.

Overall, I think we manage to keep our presentation short and to the point without beating about the bush so much. We certainly tried to improve on our delivery methods from the feedback we received the last time we conducted our peer teaching lectures. As much as we regret some of the things we have made, we can only learn from them and hope that our effort pays off.

intercultural conflict

Could this be an example of intercultural conflict? Inspired by true events…

Setting: Departmental store located somewhere in town.

Event: The store was having a one-day offer for a branded electrical appliance

The incident took place in a series of events that run like this:

The store sales promoter is conducting a demonstration on how to use the appliance. The store has a system; only those who have proof of purchase will be allowed to view the demonstration.

Everything seems like it was going well: the sales promoter looked presentable, confident, all prepared to start conducting the demonstration. When he started, he used his mother tongue to explain how to work the machine. What is wrong with this picture? Well, the crowd consisted of a fair proportion of people who clearly do not speak his tongue, even though majority of them could. (This is a common sight, since in town, a lot of people who come to the store are made up of foreigners who are Caucasian)  A few of them were patient in tolerating the sales promoter, thinking that he will switch to a different mode of language to cater to those who do not understand him earlier. As he continued, however, I could see many people showing signs of impatience and uneasiness (this obvious when you can see them folding their arms in front of them, whispering to their friends, or shaking their heads in unison as a sign of disapproval).

From what I can tell, one of the customers in the crowd passed a comment about how insensitive the sales promoter was; since he did not consider the other customers. And this comment was heard and picked up by one of the cashiers, who, was standing nearby. He went up to the sales promoter and told him to conduct the demonstration in English instead, since there were other people there who did not understand him, but still wanted to be informed.  He took up the request and continued his demonstration in English.

Since the departmental store was located in town, it is common to see a mixture of races and nationalities in the customers who purchase things at the store. The fact that the sales promoter did not use English during his presentation may have given a wrong impression. He could pass of as being unethical, and his service was therefore seen as poor. In my point of view, he was being culturally insensitive and his actions were inexcusable. Firstly, he should have been aware that he was working in an environment where there were many foreigners and locals who do not speak his tongue. Secondly, it was clear that he could speak English well, so it is inexcusable to suggest that he could not converse well in English and thus had to resort to using his own mother tongue. There was no language barrier to begin with, he should have adopted the use of English from the start, that is more appropriate, ethical and professional.

His insensitivity and negligence could have offended many people who came to view his demonstration that day. They felt discriminated against and even though this sales promoter could be the best in the business, this misunderstanding could have tarnished his reputation. What is worse, he could have given the impression that the company he works for did not give him adequate training in this field. Representing the department store, the customers could very well reason the poor quality of service that he portrayed.

Could this be viewed as an intercultural conflict? Was it in the way he communicated his ideas? What about body language? What could have been better about this picture?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Personal Statement

Sir David Attenborough was one of the greatest television presenters of all time. For over 50 years he has brought us award winning documentaries such as BBC's Life Series. He said, "It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living." Inspired by his works, I wish to emulate him in his cause to educate others. By joining Wildlife Reserves Singapore Pte Ltd, I will be able to share my passion for knowledge, by motivating others to learn more in an interactive and creative learning environment.

Working with children is challenging. During my short stints as an Assistant Softball Coach, I was hired to coach children of ages 9 -12. With determination and patience, these kids were transformed into athletes who understand the meaning of teamwork, hard work and discipline. Not only did they build confidence from picking up skills of the sport, but also learn moral values such as respect and humility.

From this experience, I felt satisfaction in seeing these children benefit through my efforts. I corrected their mistakes and never gave up on the weaker ones. To capture their interest, I incorporate the element of fun in all my activities. I learn that teaching doesn’t have to be confined to the four walls of a classroom. The outdoors is an ideal learning environment too. It encourages students to think outside of the box, and helps them pay more attention to detail.

In school I have participated in student body organisations, carrying out activities and large scale school events such as orientation projects, concerts, and fundraising bazaars. I conducted sports related programmes, sports clinics as well as tournaments for my CCA. I have a flare for contributing to events that are bigger, better and bolder than the ones before. I learn that to communicate effectively to create positive team dynamics. As part of organising events, we must be prepared for the worst. This challenges me to rectify a problem spontaneously. I understand that some things are beyond our control but staying positive helps to keep us focussed on the task at hand.
The company encourages its employees to be proud of their work and promote a healthy working environment to achieve excellence. As an education executive it allows me to maximise potential to create ideal lesson plans that are useful and fun for the visitors of the parks. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Cover Letter

Fadzillah Nur d/ o Mohamed Abdullah
Blk xxx #02-00
Pasir Ris Street 51
Singapore xxxxxx

September 3, 2009

Human Resource Manager
Wildlife Reserves Singapore Pte Ltd
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore Zoological Gardens
Singapore 729826

Dear Sir/Madam,

Application for the position of Education Executive
I refer to the advertisement on regarding the abovementioned job offer. I believe that I am a potential candidate as I satisfy the academic requirements, have adequate social and communicative skills and have the love for the nature in the outdoors.

I will be graduating with a degree in Life Sciences from the National University of Singapore, with module experiences in Ecology, and Bodiveristy which provides me some extent of knowledge for the job. I have the experience of organising outdoor activities for my CCA and large scale events like Orientation Projects during my course of study in Secondary school and thereafter. At the same time, I have had first hand experiences of attending outdoor camps and fieldtrips to nature reserves in and out of Singapore.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) has goals to promote conservation through education and recreation and as such, establish conservation parks transforming them into world class tourist venues.  I am aware that WRS has an impressive track record for achievements, having won awards for Night Safari, Jurong Birdpark and Singapore Zoo for the past 15 years. Being awarded the Best Leisure Experience at Singapore Tourism Awards 18times reflects the great extent of the goal-oriented success of your company, and  I would like to be a part of that success.

I believe that I can contribute to the growth of a dynamic and motivated pool of Education Executives. Being young and vibrant, I hope to use my creativity to bring out fresh and innovative ideas in organizing interactive activities and events for WRS. Other than being confident, I have good interpersonal skills that allow me to interact well with others. These traits have been attributed to my experiences as a leader in my years of schooling, with the added advantage of a good command in English.  Being extroverted makes me outgoing, fun, and engaging.  With an enquiring mind and an interest in nature, I want to generate similar interests in others and share the passion for learning and discovering new things.

As such, I believe that I am ready to serve the company, having understood its needs and goals. At the same time, it will provide me an opportunity to pursue a career that involves meeting new people and being close to nature.

I have enclosed my resume for your consideration. I deeply appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you. If there is an opportunity for an interview, please contact me at 9xxxxxxx at your own convenience.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Fadzillah Nur

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Resolving interpersonal conflicts

Conflicts usually take place when there is a lack of mutual understanding between two people. They can happen among friends or family members and between 2 people in a relationship or marriage. They may also happen in the workforce, among colleagues or in school between teachers and students. I would like to think that having Emotional Intelligence helps us connect with others and by that creation of some sort of common understanding with them. EQ creates in us a sense of awareness towards our emotions, the ability to control our behaviour, so that we will not be socially illiterate and express ourselves in a negative way. We can  have a healthy relationship with just about anyone by having the ability to communicate and express our true emotions without hurting anyone with our words and actions.

Here's a fictitious scenario which I feel illustrates very well the fundamentals of EQ and the relation in helping to  avoid interpersonal conflicts.

 Where shall we have dinner?
Anywhere, you decide.
What do you feel like eating?
Anything, you decide.
Ok, what if we go to that new place in the East?
No. It's the weekend, it might be crowded.
Hmm.. What about that restaurant up North?
Too far, I want to get home on time to watch the movie on HBO.
Ok, then u decide where to go because I have no more ideas.
But you're the one driving! Take us anywhere!
Stop being such a pain.
I'm being difficult? I told you earlier we should have gone to Mom's place for dinner. But you refuse to listen!
I'm sick of Mom's cooking, I just wanted to have a nice dinner outside, with you. Is that so hard?
You could have told me before we left the house then at least I don’t have to tell Mom that we weren't coming. She sounded upset over the phone, you know.
It’s always about your mom, isn’t it? What about me? You never think about me at all. Don’t you realise? Maybe I don’t like going to Mom's place. Maybe I feel uncomfortable...she having to cook for us and entertain us when she could be resting or something.
How would I know? You never say anything! You always agree to go! There was no problem until now!
Do I have a Choice?
Of course! You could have just told me…you know, you never tell me a lot of things anymore!
How can I when you don’t listen?

And so, the bickering continues…

This is where you come in for analysis!

But before doing so, here are some things to take note.

For Wife and Hubby, their weekly routine is to visit Wife's Mom over the weekend. Mom will cook and they will spend a little bit of time catching up with her. On this day, Hubby has a change of plans. His idea was to have a nice dinner with Wife, just the 2 of them. However, Wife is angry at Hubby for not informing earlier in the day of his plan. To make matters worse, Wife is being uncooperative and unresponsive when Hubby asks her for her opinions and suggestions. From then on, one thing leads to another, and a msiunderstanding turns into a more personal heated argument, bringing in Mom into the picture. In this case, both of them are expressing their true feelings, but they are coming off too strongly and so the things they say may not necessarily be right. Some over-generalisations are made, bias comments passed and the tone used are totally not helping in this situation.

So, food for thought:

From the conversation, should Wife and Hubby have reacted accordingly? Why do you think they acted the way they did? Is there a better way of communicating their displeasure? How can they resolve this conflict and avoid it in future? Does EQ have a part to play in building a better relationship?

I am open to any ideas and views about this particular scenario. I would love a discussion too if anyone pleases. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

why is effective communication important to me?

I am sure that many of us has played the "broken telephone" game which involves the passing down of a piece of information (usually a really long and confusing message) from one person to another by whispering into one another's ear. Usually done in a single line, the message has to be passed and by the end of the line, the person will have to repeat the message to see how accurate or distorted the message has become. The objective of the game is to preserve the message as accurate as possible.

We connect with one another everyday through communication. As we know, communication involves the transmission of information from the sender to the receiver, via an appropriate channel, with the intended message preserved. Without proper communication, just like the "broken telephone" game, messages can be misinterpreted and distorted, an important piece of information could be disseminated in many different versions and misunderstandings may arise in the event. So, effective communication is very important to help us deal with one another socially in the corporate world, in school or even at home.

Very often, we associate stable relationships with good communication. For example, effective communication between two friends allows them to understand the way they each think and behave. They will get to know each other better, learning the other person's character, personal likes and dislikes, the nature of their habits and even their thoughts and ideas. By frequently exchanging ideas and expressing emotions, communication takes place. Communication can help to build trust which is very much essential for a long lasting relationship.

What about communication at home? A simple example that illustrates the importance of communication between a mother and a child, let's say Mom always fetches Child from school each day from Monday to Friday. On one of these days, Child partakes in a competition which is held in a different venue outside school. Two things can happen here. If Child did not inform Mom of the change in venue, Mom could have driven all the way to school just to find that Child is waiting somewhere else. In another situation, Child mentions it to Mom in the morning of the event and Mom, because of her busy nature, forgot to fetch Child from the new venue.

On the contrary, if Child informs Mom of the activity beforehand and reminds Mom on the morning of the event, it is more likely that Mom will fetch Child on time and at the correct location. A lot of inconveniences can be avoided if Child communicates with Mom effectively. Of course there are things to consider about the transmission of information. Did Mom give Child her fullest attention during the transmission of information, or was she too preoccupied that she could have easily forgotten it? Maybe Child was not clear enough on telling Mom about the venue, or that Mom had misinterpreted the situation. But still, situations 1 and 2 can be avoided through the use of technology, or more precisely, handphones especially with  the ever-so-handy SMS. Sending an SMS to Mom, Child can remind her about the time and venue of pick-up so a communication breakdown do not take place.

In the workplace, good communication skills are required especially if you hold a high ranking position. Why is this so? Imagine having to conduct meetings and presentations to your subordinates and colleagues or even to big bosses, without using proper techniques. Instead of trying to convey important information in an appropriate and professional manner, you may end up offending your audiences. What could be worse, your audience leaves the meeting or presentations without any clue whatsoever. How about when giving assignments or setting tasks to your employees? Here, there is a need to express good communication skills so that the instructions given will be clear and your employees will be able to carry out their duties efficiently and accurately. If not, a lot of time and effort will be wasted if the employee has to keep redoing it just because he was unclear about the instructions and guidelines given.

As a student, not only is good communication key to making friends and building relationships, it is also important in conveying ideas on paper, in terms of report writing and essay writing. Ideas have to be transmitted clearly and precisely so that the readers will understand the message being conveyed. Through the proper use of tone and language, this can be achieved.

There are other situations in life where communication is essential. For instance, during a game of soccer, players communicate to each other by shouting for the ball or waving their hands. This way, each player knows where to pass the ball without hesitation and eventually make a good play out of it. What about daily activities that involve communication? As obvious as it gets, we communicate with the cashier at MacDonalds when we purchase an extra value meal. We request for an order, the cashier receives it, confirms it and informs us of the price.

There are many instances of effective communication and why it is so important. For me, effective communication is necessary to help us in our daily activities. Without it, a lot of  knowledge and ideas will not be shared. There will be no understanding between people and misunderstandings will just keep taking place. There are aids of effective communication such as technology like email, SMS, telephone, Internet that allow us to disseminate our information accurately and successfully. But how personal will it be if technology is used for communication? Food for thought...