Friday, August 29, 2008

Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

When I was in junior college, I had to do a project as part of the entry requirements to enter local universities. One of the girls, Alice (a pseudonym), who was assigned to my group, had absolutely no intention of getting enrolled into a local university. As a result, she was apathetic towards the project, always arriving late, leaving early or not showing up for meetings at all. Our group leader, an extremely enthusiastic girl, was upset with
her attitude and had several arguments with her during our meetings. Although I disapprove of Alice’s attitude, I felt that there was no need to argue with her as long as she gets her part done in time for submission. Naturally, this was not a great solution because we ended up having very little rapport with Alice. Possibly, this lack of rapport led to a vicious cycle, which made Alice even more unwilling to turn up for meetings, leading to even less rapport.

In addition to a grade given for the group, grades were also given to the individual based on their contributions, including the articles that we had contributed to the project. We made regular submission of our project file to the teacher-in-charge for grading. There was once when my printer was not working and Alice volunteered to print the articles for me. However, she came without the articles that I sent her, claiming that she could not print them. Thus, I ended up submitting only the articles that I had at hand. When the project file was returned to us, I looked at it and realized she had placed the articles that I sent her under her own name! I was scandalized by such blatant act of theft.

Finally, our patience was stretched to the limits and we approached our teacher-in-charge for help. We even showed her ‘evidences’ of her poor attitude, such as the irresponsible remarks she made on our msn discussions and her poor attendances. To our dismay, instead of guiding us, she viewed such conflicts as unnecessary and gave a poor grade for the group.

I was extremely horrified by that incident at that point of time, for I felt that even if I had failed to handle the situation in the best possible manner, it was still unfair to my group leader and I to be marked down due to an irresponsible group member. I have learnt how to handle such situations better now, although I am still not proficient at it. I really hope for some enlightening inputs on how you would handle such situation if you were in my shoes! =)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Importance of effective communication

Being highly social animals, human communicate with one another to convey emotions and danger, to build relationships and to maintain social order. Since infancy, we have been developing communicative skills by crying and smiling at the right moment to achieve what we want. Not much have changed even as we reached adulthood. However, ideas and needs have become more complex and thus more effective communication is needed to convey such messages.

Effective communication is needed to prevent misunderstandings. A criticism from a superior to a subordinate can have drastically different effect depending on the choice of words used. Consider “You did a horrible job” as compared to “this piece of work can be improved”, which criticism would the subordinate more willing to accept? Often, we make the mistake of assuming that others understand exactly what we are trying to convey. However, this is often not so. How often has a woman drop hints about a birthday wish only to be met with disappointment?

Effective communication is also needed to express ideas and thoughts. A scientific hypothesis or design require funding and support of others in the field, and even members of the public to make it into a reality. However brilliant your ideas, they are worthless unless you can make people agree with you.

Moreover, effective communication can boost self-esteem. One who is able to communicate his thoughts effectively tends to be more confident when meeting people and sharing ideas.

There is hardly any aspect of life that does not require communicative skills. Communicative skills are required to maintain and form human relationships, including: parent and child, husband and wife, superior and subordinate, between friends, colleagues, and even countries. By maintaining good relationships, we can avoid hostility, receive aids, support and even promotions more easily. Maintaining good human relationships are practically essential for the survival of a human being. (Edited)