Sunday, April 12, 2009

Final Reflection

After reading through my first blog post, I realized that I have a premature understanding of what effective communication is about. After three months of blogging, writing formal letters and painstakingly trying to thread the group report together, my understanding towards effective communication has definitely increased.

I mentioned in the first post that effective communication is needed to ensure that ideas are conveyed accurately to obtain the intended outcome. However, I realized that effective communication goes beyond the mere transmission of knowledge to your targeted audience. This is because people are not robots, they have their own thoughts or views that they are passionate about, disagreements might arise if there is a conflict of interest.

I had gained valuable experiences on how to communicate with my fellow project group mates, Matthew and Wai Pheng. As our group is made up of individuals with diverse cultural background, our working styles are very different and disagreements frequently arise. Hence, as the group leader, I had learnt how to be more assertive so that things could be completed on time and learnt how to compromise (in a good way) and be empathetic when my group members face problems in their work. I also realized that it is important to voice out your concerns and address any doubts to prevent misunderstandings.

In addition, I had also learnt to understand that emails may not be a good form of communication and I appreciate face-to-face meetings or phone conversations. This is because it is difficult to trace email responses and it is difficult to obtain a prompt reply as compared to face-to-face meetings or phone conversations. Intentions or tone of emails could also be misinterpreted. Nevertheless, the group project has served its purpose well as it has taught me how to build a good working relationship with my project group mates.

It is also interesting to revise and pick up new skills on formal letter and resume writing. Skills such as how to write minutes, business letters and resumes will definitely prove useful when I enter the workplace in the future.

One of the things I enjoyed the most is blogging. As blogs are personality-driven, they help me to understand my course mates better. It is also an avenue where creativity could be displayed and with all the pictures, video or music sound clips that come along with posts. Who knows, blogging can one day be a useful tool in the business world? Due to its immediacy and power , it is a convenient tool to promote one's business or showcase one's products. People may find these blog posts and start developing a feel for who you are. A relationship begins and from that springs greater opportunity - personal or business - depending on your goals.

One of the most important things I have learnt is that communication takes two forms, verbal and non-verbal. I am now more conscious in the way I write, always bearing in mind of the 7Cs, and also in the way I present myself after picking up so many pointers from the oral presentation. Though I have not really reached my goal of being an effective communicator, these skills will be useful for me if I put them into practice.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to Christine and course mates. Thank you for being so understanding and I enjoy learning from all of you! ☺ You all are a brilliant bunch of people! ☺

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Biodata

My Biodata

Hi. I am Chan Min Min. I am currently a Science undergraduate majoring in Physics. I am a diligent and independent learner who is particularly passionate about Physics. I enjoy learning Physics because it is a subject that encourages one to find answers to fundamental questions and apply basic knowledge to complicated situations. Hence, learning physics has equipped me with critical thinking and application skills that will be important in the workforce. To broaden my academic horizons, I challenged myself by participating in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme in Science (UROPS). My strong analytical ability and keen attitude towards learning has enabled me to obtain good results for this programme.

Furthermore, I am also an efficient and responsible leader who has the drive to see my undertakings through fruition. I was given the opportunity to be the Vice-Chairman of National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) in CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School and had taken part in the planning and execution of many events in my co-curricular activity. As a confident and dependable team leader, I motivated and led my team to come in first in the Annual .22" Revolver Shooting Competition in 2003.

In addition, I have a keen interest in music and was an active and dedicated member of the Harmonica Club in Anderson Junior College. Despite being new to the instrument, I practiced hard to improve my skills so that I could participate in the Singapore Youth Festival in 2005. Besides playing the harmonica, I also enjoy singing, jogging and playing the piano. My love for music spurred me to join the music ministry in my church. I had served in the choir before and now, every Sunday, I would serve the congregation as a keyboardist.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Physical Touch

"The most basic form of communication, where words are not always needed."

For this week’s blog entry, I would like to talk about a form of non-verbal communication: physical touch.

As human beings, we are equipped with the sense of touch to help us understand and interact with the environment. Sensor receptors located in the skin pick up information from the environment and sent them to the brain. Through the sense of touch, we could identify pressure, temperature and pain and all these carries a message about the environment we are living in. Hence, nature could communicate through us through the sense of touch.

As I was searching through the Internet, I chanced upon the “physical benefits of touch”. Massage has several medical benefits as it could improve blood circulation in our body. However, I feel that the sense of touch goes beyond the physical. Touch can bring emotional well-being and it is one of the most basic ways human beings communicate with each other.

Sometimes, a touch is worth a thousand words. Touch could help us to communicate to one another without the need for words. Physical contact informs the other of our presence, our caring, and our support. When there seems to be nothing one can say, an appropriate touch can convey the best message of all.

For example, gently stroking an infant will induce sleep, soothe pain, and quiet their rage. Teachers could give their students a pat on the back to show their appreciation or approval for a work that is well done while a slap on the hand indicates the opposite. In business relationships, a handshake could indicate mutual consensus to an agreement or contract. Stroking the back of your friend is a way to show support and it could also soothe your friend when he or she is hurt. A hug from your parents or partner communicates love.

As you approach the other with your defenses down and your hand extended in a gesture of acceptance, you stand a better chance of reaching a mutual understanding. However, there must be a level of appropriateness when we are communicating to one another through the sense of touch. Sometimes, the sense of touch could only be exchanged between two parties who have attained a certain level of comfort with each other.

Do you agree that touch is a powerful way of communication, especially when you are close to the person? What does communication through touch means to you?

P.S: Something that I found while I was surfing through the net.

"When words cannot be heard, when reason cannot be understood, and when vision is impeded....touch can heal. My grandson spent 3 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and for over a month our only form of communication with him was through touch. Our touch slowed his heart rate down, soothed his cries and increased the oxygen saturation in his blood. Just a touch, that's all it takes."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Don't call me "Xiao Jie"!

In Singapore, we often have the habit of addressing a gentleman as "先生" (xian sheng) or a lady as "小姐 ” (xiao jie) in Chinese. This form of address is especially useful when we are addressing a stranger or when we are addressing a waiter/waitress/salesperson in Chinese.

However, things seem to be rather different in Beijing. I will take this opportunity to recount an event that my mother and I faced when we were holidaying in Beijing 3 months ago.

The incident happened when we were having our lunch in a Chinese restaurant on the first day of our tour in Beijing. When my mother reached out to a waitress and called her "小姐", the smile on the waitress' face quickly fade away and she just turned and walked away. My mother called out a few more times but it seems to be falling on deaf ears. Luckily our tour guide heard my mother and requested the waitress to attend to us.

At first, I was quite offended by the waitress' attitude. Personally, I feel that her service needs to be improved. If this had happened in Singapore, the restaurant would probably receive a letter of complaint from the customer.

When we had finished our lunch and returned to our bus coach, our tour guide explained to everyone that "小姐" is actually used to address girls working as hostess in nightclubs. Instead, we should address a lady as "姑娘" (gu niang) or waitress as “服务生” (fu wu sheng). For a man, we should address him as 师夫 (shi fu, meaning master), especially if he is skilled in a certain trade. Now we understand why the waitress totally ignored us and gave us a cold shoulder. She feels that it is demeaning and may even think that we were insulting her when we addressed her as "小姐".

From the above incident, it can be seen that even though we are of the same race, different countries will have different cultural background and understanding towards the same words. It is always wise to find out more about the country's social customs, from greetings to business dealings, so as to avoid any misunderstandings or conflict. It is also important to be versatile and there may be a need to adjust the way you interact with people when you are in a foreign country.

For me, I have resolved not to call any China ladies "小姐" after this incident. However my mother kept forgetting that this is a taboo phrase and would call out once in a while. I was always the one who had to apologise profusely to the ladies after that.

Note: We can see that English words also have different meanings in different cultures too. Here is a table that indicates that some English words have different meaning in Britain and America. (You may click on the table to see an enlarged version.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Business Correspondence Letter Critique

This is a business letter that my father has received. It is a letter of request asking my father to update his personal particulars. The organization has attached a form for him to fill in the amendments. Information on his personal particulars is on the left column of the form and my father is required to fill in the amendments on the lines given on the right column of the form.


19 January 2009

Mr Chan See Kiong
Cheong Hei Engineering Services Private Limited
7 Lorong 7 Papaya Industrial Park
Singapore 319980

Dear Mr Chan


We wish you A Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!

We are conducting a Member Updating Exercise, please find enclosed a set of your information on the left and the space provided on the right is for you to amend with your latest information. All information will be handled with strict confidentiality.

We would also appreciate very much if you could furnish us with a photocopy of your marriage certificate and your children’s birth certificate(s), if applicable.

We have also attached the new car decal for your retention. Please fill in your Car Registration Number and Membership Number on the decal before displaying it on the car windscreen.

Kindly complete the Member’s Particular Forms and return to us, with the business envelope provided, within 21 days from receipt of this letter. Otherwise we will assume all information is accurate.

Your co-operation and consideration is very much appreciated.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Flower Village Club
Rose Joy Foo
Membership Administration Department


I feel that the writer is very friendly because she started the letter with a greeting. She is also courteous when she wrote “we would appreciate very much” to persuade the reader to fulfill her request. The letter was also complete as the writer managed to relay all necessary information to the reader. For example, instructions were given to teach reader how to fill in amendments on the form and when to return the amended form to the organization. Overall, information was conveyed clearly to the reader. Upon reading the letter, the recipient will understand what the writer is trying to convey.

However, I think the tone of the letter will be more formal and appropriate if she could end the letter with well wishes instead of starting the letter with a greeting. Furthermore, the letter was also not concise enough. The letter was filled with many long sentences and the writer could actually use fewer words to convey her message across. For example, instead of writing, “Kindly complete the Member’s Particular Forms and return to us, with the business envelope provided, within 21 days from receipt of this letter.”, she can write “Please return the completed form to us via post by 10th February 2009”.

Moreover, there are some language errors in the letter too. Instead of writing, “please find enclosed”, the writer can consider writing, “enclosed is”. There should not be any capitalization for “Car Registration Number”, “Membership Number” and “Member’s Particular Forms” unless the form was titled this way. Furthermore, she should end the letter with “Yours sincerely” since she knows the name of the reader.


Here is an improved version of the letter.

Dear Mr Chan,


We are conducting an updating exercise on our members’ particulars. Enclosed is a form for you to amend your personal particulars. Please fill in the amendments on the right column of this form. We would appreciate very much if you could furnish us with a photocopy of your marriage certificate and your children’s birth certificate(s), if applicable.

We have also attached the new car decal for your retention. Please fill in your car registration number and membership number on the decal before displaying it on your car windscreen.

Please return the completed form to us via post by 10th February 2009. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

We wish you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year.

Yours sincerely,
Flower Villa Club
Rose Joy Foo
Membership Administration Department

Sunday, February 1, 2009

An interpersonal conflict with your supervisor

A few years back, I worked as a relief teacher in a primary school located at Ang Mo Kio. In the school, every teacher is accountable to their head of department (HOD) or supervisor. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to guide new teachers and provide them with any assistance if they face any problem in the school. When I was working in the school, I got to know of a female teacher who was new to the job. I was quite close to this teacher and hence I got to learn about an interpersonal conflict she experienced with her supervisor.

She mentioned that her supervisor was particularly strict with her and would check the books of her students frequently to make sure that she has marked them. Sometimes, the supervisor would also attend her class so as to check her performance. Since she was new to the environment and the job of a primary school teacher was not particularly easy, she found that it was really difficult to handle the students and the workload. To make matters worse, her supervisor was rather harsh towards her and would berate her whenever she did something wrong.

One day, the female teacher broke down in front of me and told me that her supervisor reprimanded her in front of her class, just because she did not marked the corrections that the students did. The teacher felt that her supervisor did not give her any respect in front of her students and had treated her like one of his student and not as a colleague. This incident causes her to lose confidence in herself and she felt that she was unsuitable for the job. After teaching for half a year in the school, she decided to leave the teaching line.

If you were the female teacher, what would you do if your supervisor was particular mean to you and seem to pick on you for every little mistake you had done? From the supervisor’s point of view, how would you guide this new teacher in the spirit of excellence?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I need to know how to communicate effectively - & badly!!!

Effective communication skills are very important to me, especially in the context of relationships. Communication and relationships are inseparably connected since communication involves every aspect of our interaction with others. Having effective communication can help to build bridges between strangers and help one to make new friends. For an introvert like me, to engage in a conversation with a stranger (and subsequently to maintain it) is really challenging. Many times, to avoid awkwardness, I would prefer not to speak to people whom I am not close with. To some people, their impression of me may be aloof and arrogant. In actual fact, I just do not know how to make small talk and keep the conversation going. Hence, when I know that ES2007S can provide me with the skills to communicate and convey my thoughts to others effectively, I decided to take up this module.

Effective communication will also help me to build a good relationship with my family and friends since it ensures that messages are conveyed accurately and prevents any misunderstandings. Very often, I do not know how to express the way I feel or how to make my needs known to others. On top of that, I am afraid that if I voice out my displeasure when they do not meet my expectations, I would cause unhappiness to them. Hence, whenever my needs are not met, I always bottle things up and keep my displeasure to myself. When that happens, I would tend to fume silently and refuse to interact with anybody. Sometimes, people might think that I am very unapproachable. Therefore, if I am equipped with good communication skills, I can be more assertive. Moreover, I would be more sensitive towards others if I learn how to voice out my disagreements in an empathetic way. With effective communication, there is a likelihood of getting my views across, avoiding conflict by showing that I respect the other party and maintaining good relationships, thus creating a “win-win” situation.

Effective communication is important when I join the workforce. In the workplace, meetings and discussions are venues for employers and employees to brainstorm for effective strategies and to relay their plans to each other. Therefore, communication skills play an important role in helping one to carry out presentations and facilitate discussions. The most efficient way to bring about a desired outcome is to articulate ideas and provide appropriate responses clearly. Very often, I find myself inadequate in the way I present my knowledge to others. Hence, having good interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate effectively would help me to convey ideas clearly to others when I am in the workforce.

Well, I guess, from this blog, you have known all my weaknesses. Yes, they are communication weaknesses. I do hope that I can polish up my communication skills and when I have acquired these skills, I can be more confident in the future. :)