Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Reflection

The course may have come to an end but the process of learning on how to communicate effectively is still an on-going agenda. After going through this module, I have come to realize the great importance of being a good and an effective communicator in our daily lives. This module has taught me that there is more to effective communication than just verbal and written communication. At times, the nonverbal communication cues are able to convey and provide more accurate messages than words if there were to be interpreted correctly. This is an area that I should find out more especially the various communication styles and the appropriate usage of body languages when I am interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. This serves as a deterrent for me from being involved in undesirable situations as a result of miscommunication and intercultural ignorance such as the incident involving my Uncle Ted (refer to my blog post 4 for my information).

Another important skill that I am glad to have picked up in this module is the ability to write good resumes and job application letters with the application of 7Cs. These skills can be put to good use when I am applying for internships or when I graduate from NUS in the year 2010. I have acquired essential skills on preparing (e.g. researching on the company that I am applying for a job) and performing confidently at job interviews. In the past, having to sit at the interviewee’s chair and being stressed out by the hard questions posed by interviewers was one of my biggest fears. I am thankful that I was able to be involved in a mock job interview that allowed me to have an insight and review on the possible interview questions that may be asked in an actual interview. After going through several weeks on job search communication tutorials, I am more confident now when it comes to job applications and interviews.

Furthermore, I have gained valuable experience from the group research study. Although all the members in my group come from Malaysia (including myself), each of us has our own personalities and working attitudes. Thus, being in a team has allowed me to hone my skills as a team player and practice the communication skills that I acquired in this course to cope with the differences among us especially when it comes to working under pressure of a perfectionist and (ahem!) "good-looking'' member. Nevertheless, it is still my honor to work with Wee Siong and Cher. I wish to thank you guys for the guidance that you have given me.

Finally, I have also learnt the various approaches and styles on how to make a presentation as interesting and as entertaining as possible. Being a Life Science student, most of the assessments for my core modules are based on writing assignments, continuous assessments (CA) and final examinations. Presentation is never part of the assessment for my core modules. Therefore, I rarely have a chance to stand and deliver my ideas in front of my fellow colleagues. Doing this presentation is definitely something new to me which allows me to develop my own presenting style.

Overall, it is a wise choice for me to have taken this module. I have gained valuable skills and experiences which would be useful in every aspect of life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Oral Presentation

The presentation was finally over and I had a great time doing it. As I was in charge for the introduction part of the presentation, it was my responsibility to capture the audiences’ attention by delivering an interesting opening. Initially, I had a pretty hard time trying to get ideas on how to make the opening as appealing as possible. I was thankful that my fellow group members, Wee Siong and Hwee Cher, helped me by contributing some advices and suggestions with regards to my part.

Overall, I am happy that our group presented rather well and went according to what we have rehearsed. However, I believe that there is still room for improvement and we can do better after getting your feedbacks. As for myself, I feel that I did quite okay. I was so glad that the audiences participated actively and responded to my question and joke during the presentation. One thing that surprised me is that I was not nervous at all when I was presenting. This is something that is unusual to me as presenting in front of everyone is one of the things that I am afraid of and I will avoid at all cost. I guess after this experience, I have gained more confidence and have overcome this fear for presenting.

One thing that I need to work on for my presentation in the future is to control the speed of my speech. I have a tendency to gradually increase my talking speed when I am excited or well-prepared for a particular thing (which in this case is the presentation). Sometimes, I could get so carried away without realizing that the people/audience could not catch up with me. Thus, I hope that I can improve on this matter and be a better presenter in the days to come.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Biodata (Post #6)

I am Loke Sau Yeen, currently in my third year of study at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Driven by my passion in discovering the complexity of sciences, I am currently pursuing a degree in Life Science concentrating in Biomedical Science at NUS. Through this course, I am given the opportunity to study the field of interest in greater depth and to have hands-on experiences in laboratory researches with reputable professors in NUS. The experiences of working in laboratories have trained me to be able to work independently and interdependently by being a good team player. Besides that, I also learnt to be more observant, detailed-oriented, analytical, objective and determined with high consciousness of time.

Striving to maintain a balance life as a university student, I have participated actively in various co-curricular activities in the years of my academic studies. Being the present Public Relations Manager of NUS Singapore Anti- Narcotics Association (SANA), I am required to liaise with organizations such as the SANA headquarters on the subject of joint- collaboration activities. The valuable experiences that I had from this position have enhanced my interpersonal communication skills which in turn have boosted my confidence when dealing with people from different organizations and background.

Besides that, having done part time tutoring in a day care cum tuition centre last summer, I have acquired the skill of communicating effectively with people from different age groups such as children, adolescents and adults. Being a tutor was a challenge for me as different teaching approaches needed to be implemented to students of different levels. Thus, my part time job as a tutor allowed me to expand my creativity in developing different effective teaching methods as well as augment my capacity to withstand the stress from parents. Moreover, I have learnt to become more meticulous and patient, which I believe are qualities that will benefit me greatly in future assignments.

In addition, I always have a strong interest for music, ballroom dances and languages. If given the opportunity, I would like to pursue a piano diploma or learning a new dance or language. With my undying thirst for knowledge, I would also hope that I am able to take up a postgraduate degree in a related science field.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Not- So- Pleasant Phone Conversation

Last week was a real crazy period for me. There were 2 continuous assessments (CA) and an assignment which comprised of 60% of my final marks due last week. I had serious sleep deprivation as a result of numerous nights of burning the midnight oil. After I completed my last CA on Friday, I was excited as I finally got a chance to take an afternoon nap, compensating for the hours of sleep that I was deprived of. Just when I was about to enter slumberland, my sweet nap was disrupted by the ringing of my phone. Despite being very drowsy, I got up and I picked up the phone for the fear of missing any important call. The following is the conversation that I had with an unknown lady (caller):

Unknown lady: Hello, may I know who is this?

Me : Huh? Pardon me?

Unknown lady: I’m asking you, may I know who is the user of this line?

Me : Er…. I’m Miss Loke.

Unknown lady: From which branch?

Me : Huh? (I was very confused.) Excuse me; may I know who is calling me?

Unknown lady: (Speaking in an annoyed tone) I’m Laura from XXX Company. I just

want to ask you who is the user of this line?

Me : Oh. Err… I am Miss Loke.

Unknown lady: Okay, so you’re Miss Loke, right? Thanks. (Hung up)

I was quite confused throughout the entire conversation that I had with this unknown lady (who apparently addressed herself as Laura). This might be due to the inability of my not- so-well- functioning brain to process her speech as I was very drowsy at that moment.

However, when I think back about it, I feel rather mad as I find that the lady was rude to me during the whole conversation. After analyzing the dialogue, I discover a few errors that could have been avoided in order to make the conversation more pleasant. Firstly, the unknown lady should have introduced herself before proceeding to her questions. This step reflects the professionalism of the caller and it is important to ensure that the receiver (who is me) knows the identity of the caller. Secondly, instead of expressing her annoyance in her speech, she should have used a more polite tone when she is speaking with me. Her annoyance made me felt as though I had done or said something wrong which led to her displeasure. Thirdly, the purpose of this call was not mentioned until I asked for her identity. To be honest, I am still clueless as to why she called me and inquired for my name. The conversation would be more sensible if she had taken some time to explain to me about the reason for her call. And last but not least, I was displeased with the way she ended the conversation. In my opinion, hanging up on someone’s call without a proper greeting (i.e. goodbye) is a serious mistake and no one should be doing it especially when you are calling someone on behalf of your company.

As such, I feel that communication skills are very important, be it in our verbal communications such as our daily face- to face and phone conversations and written communications such as letters, emails or blogs. Therefore, as part of the society, we should pay attention to the way we communicate with each other in order to establish or maintain good, healthy relationships with one another.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Evaluating Intercultural Communication (Blog Post #4)

In this week’s post, I would like to share with you an incident which involved my uncle back in my hometown in Malaysia. Before I proceed to my story, allow me to share with you some details about my uncle. My uncle’s name is Theodore and I always call him Uncle Ted. He is an American who has just married with my aunt not long ago. After their marriage, he decided to move and settle in Ipoh with my aunt although he has not been to Malaysia prior to this. As such, he has very little knowledge regarding the multiracial and multicultural society of this foreign land.

This scenario occurred a month ago in a hawker centre located in my hometown, Ipoh. One morning, Uncle Ted wanted to order a plate of his favourite local cuisine, nasi lemak, from a Malay stall. As he could not speak Malay and the Malay lady had a poor command of English, he pointed to the word ‘nasi lemak’ in the menu as a way to place his order. Then, he made a hand gesture of touching his thumb and index finger together while holding the rest of his fingers straight up as a signal to ask the seller if she had gotten his order. The Malay lady nodded and repeated the hand gesture made by my uncle as an indication that she had understood his message.

Five minutes later, the Malay lady came to Uncle Ted’s table to serve the nasi lemak. To his surprise, she placed 3 plates of nasi lemak on the table instead of one. By using simple English, Uncle Ted tried his best to explain that he had just ordered one plate of nasi lemak and ask her to take the extra 2 plates away. The Malay lady got agitated and refused to take the extra 2 plates away. She insisted that he had ordered 3 plates and kept doing the hand gesture made by him earlier as a confirmation that he had ordered 3 plates of nasi lemak just now. In order to get out from this unpleasant situation, Uncle Ted apologized to the Malay lady and paid for the 3 plates of nasi lemak.

Language barrier was the main cause of this miscommunication between Uncle Ted and the Malay lady. Uncle Ted’s inability to speak in Malay and the Malay lady’s poor command in English had caused him to use non-verbal language as a mean to convey his message. However, little did he know that different cultures have different meanings for the same body language. For the locals in Malaysia, the hand gesture of touching the thumb and index finger together while holding the rest of the fingers straight up is referring to the number three. On the other hand, this hand gesture is used as an indication of ‘okay’ or ‘alright’ by most people in the West. As such, Uncle Ted’s initial intention of asking the Malay lady whether she had understood his order turned out to be another meaning to her, resulting in miscommunication and misunderstanding between them. As such, it is very important for us to acquire some knowledge about the various cultures especially in a multiracial country in order to avoid such situations in the future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Business Correspondence Critique (Post 3)

For this week’s blog, all the ES2007S students are required to post an email or a business letter which we wish to critique on. As such, the following is an email which I have selected for this week’s assignment:

Hey people,

Let me introduce myself briefly. I am Y, the new sectional leader for Chinese calligraphy society. I really appreciate the hard work the previous committee has put into in the exhilarating activities. For that, I believe that they all deserve a round of applause, don't they? Most important of all, it is YOU, our dear members that has supported and encouraged them through your participation; YOU have made all the committee members' work worthwhile and meaningful. Therefore, THANK YOU.

In this new term, I hope that you would continue to support the new batch of committee members and we, in turn, will provide the best that we can to serve you. After all, that is our committee's motto, "Everything is for YOU."

I am writing to you for another reason. There are a few vacancies for committee members. They include:
1 Secretary
2 Logistic Members
2 Marketing members

There will be an interview session for interested applicants.

I urge you to take up these posts. Join us in this year's journey, to learn and to serve together. And I am always there for you.

I am looking forward to seeing you soon.


This was an email that I received one semester ago regarding the recruitment of members for particular positions in the Chinese Calligraphy Society. After reading it, I noticed that there were several mistakes that could have been corrected, making it a better piece of writing. One of the mistakes that I first noticed was the lack of courtesy in this email. The writer should have addressed his/her recipients as ‘Dear fellow members’ instead of ‘Hey people’. The choice of words used by the writer was rather informal and might have caused a feeling of disrespect to the recipients.

Besides that, there was lack of correctness in the terms of the language used such as punctuation and grammar especially in paragraph one. One of the examples which reflected my point of view was in this sentence- ‘I really appreciate the hard work the previous committee has put into in the exhilarating activities.’ The writer should have used ‘had put’ instead of ‘has put’ because the previous committee members had already retired from their positions and the contributions that they made were in the past.

Furthermore, some sentences in this email were rather verbose and lacked of conciseness (i.e. the first paragraph). It was written in a rather lengthy manner and the punctuations used were not correct. As such, I would suggest that the first paragraph of the email should be corrected to the following:

“I am Y, the new sectional leader for the Chinese Calligraphy Society. I wish to express my gratitude for the hard work of the previous committee members in organizing various activities. I would also like to thank everyone who has given us the support and encouragement through your participation in our activities.”

Some inconsistencies in terms of tenses could also be found such as in the first sentence of paragraph two. The writer should have written the sentence in simple future tense. As such, the corrected sentence should be ‘In this new term, I hope that you will continue to support the new batch of committee members and we, in turn, will provide the best that we can to serve you.’

Another mistake found in this email was the incompleteness of the information given. As the purpose of this email was to recruit new committee members, the writer should have included more details regarding the interview (e.g. date, time, venue, etc.), the deadline of the application, the particulars which the applicants need to provide in their applications and to whom the applications should be sent to. Without all these information, doubt and confusion might have occurred among the readers as they do not know what they should do if they wish to apply for those positions.

In conclusion, revising, editing and proofreading are the three essential steps that one should not miss when it comes to writing, be it a business letter or an email. Hence, we should take note and spare some time to read and re-read our writing before it is published or being sent out.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Resolving Interpersonal Conflict (Post #2)

Conflict is a common phenomenon in most relationships. It can exist in myriad levels of analysis and one of the most popular levels is interpersonal conflict. Interpersonal conflict is a situation in which 2 or more individuals, each with incompatible perceptions, experiencing difficulty in a relationship. This kind of conflict is often inevitable among family members, friends and colleagues in the various stages of our lives. It is not always true that conflicts only inflict negative impacts on relationships. In fact, through the course of resolving a conflict, we can learn how to maintain, flourish and establish stronger interpersonal relationships making it longer lasting and rewarding.

Let’s discuss a hypothetical example illustrating an interpersonal conflict. In this example, I have Sean who was married with his wife, Amber, a year ago. Being newly- weds, he was extremely excited and thrilled about his very first wedding anniversary. He intended to go for a vacation with Amber on the big day and he had been planning it for weeks, hoping to have the best possible celebration that he could ever have with her. The reservation in a lavish hotel had been made, air tickets had been purchased, the perfect anniversary gift had been chosen and most importantly, as his anniversary fell on a Friday, his work leave had been approved so that he could enjoy a longer anniversary weekend with his dear wife.

Everything went according to plan until the moment when Sean was asked to meet his boss, Ms. Black, in her office on the day before his anniversary. Ms. Black demanded Sean to cancel his approved work leave on Friday in order to amend a very important proposal and present it to the client on Saturday. This proposal was very crucial for the company as the project was a multi-million dollar investment and it would contribute a large sum to the company’s income if the client were to accept the proposal. Hesitantly to Ms. Black’s command, Sean tried to refuse politely and state the reasons as to why he could not make it. However, Ms. Black flared in anger and raised her voice as she spoke to Sean harshly, insisting him to follow her orders no matter what as she was the one who was paying his wages. Leaving him no choice, Sean had to obey without questions and do as his boss commanded. As such, this incident left him feeling angry and frustrated as he felt that Ms. Black was not being fair to him and his rights were being violated. He was depressed because he was forced to cancel his vacation, and bearing the financial loss due to the cancellation of the hotel reservation and air ticket purchases. He also disappointed his wife for staying back for work.

In this scenario, the possible cause of the conflict was due to lack of communication between Sean and Ms. Black. This results in Sean feeling unhappy with Ms. Black’s inconsiderate demand and Ms. Black’s anger due to Sean’s reluctance in giving his co-operation to the company’s mega project. Insufficient understanding between the two parties stirred up a lot of negative emotions between each other and within themselves. Therefore, I hope that you could suggest some effective ways in which Sean and Ms. Black could settle the conflict more amicably or in what ways could this unpleasant episode have avoided in the first place. Besides that, what are the solutions that can amend the working relationship between Sean and his boss?