Saturday, November 8, 2008


If anyone has read my first post, you would have realized the content I wrote was indeed dry. I used to think that being a Science student, I can avoid having to present myself in front of a crowd. When I was first enrolled for this module, I was rather fearful that I might reveal my weaknesses. However, I realized the importance of effective communication everywhere, be it whether you are majoring in Science or Business, you need to communicate with different people everyday, and you probably cannot run away from the oral presentations in future unless like what Brad said in class, we drop out of school and sell bak kut teh in hawker centres. Well, even then, you will still have to interact with your customers.

It has been a tough journey but I am glad that we have completed the hurdles! I have learned to overcome my fear of oral presentations and interviews, especially when I get more practice, I believe I can improve my presentation skills further. I suppose everyone has gained tremendously from this module, from how we actively listen to others, to writing minutes, formal letters and reports, job application letter, to going through job interviews and last of all, to delivering the final oral presentation. These are experiences that I cannot gain from other modules. In addition, besides the ‘professional’ part of the course, I am trained to manage time and prioritize things more efficiently to meet tight deadlines. These precious skills that I acquired from Professional Communication will definitely be very helpful for my future studies and career.

One thing worth mentioning is that this module is one of the most interesting modules I have taken so far because we get to interact as a class, unlike what we always do in other modules, when we sit down in the lecture room and doze off after half an hour. Because of interaction within the class, we learned more from one another and at the same time made more friends despite our busy schedules.
I feel really sad that this fulfilling semester has come to an end, but I am thankful that I have taken this module. I hope to apply these skills that I have gained when I join the workforce.

Now that you have finished reading my post, do you feel that I have added in more personal touch about effective communication rather than the facts of effective communication? Communicating with my readers is what I have learned through writing a blog too. =D

The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue. ~Antisthenes

Edited on 9th Nov

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Koh Yi Ling Eileen is a 2nd year undergraduate majoring in Statistics and Applied Probability in National University Singapore. Being in the statistics field trains her to develop an analytical mind and cultivates her interest in this area.

Eileen has gained experience working in the public sector during her employment in the Ministry of Health. She has also gained an insight of the work environment and style in this sector. She enjoys working with different people and her cheerful disposition is instrumental in gaining trust of her colleagues. Besides, her decision for choosing statistics as her major was influenced at that time.

She was active in my secondary school choir as a sectional leader. This equipped her with the essential leadership skills that enhance my life in university and hopefully in the workplace hereafter. In addition, she was appointed the project director of the Welcome Tea held by the Science Computer-Based Learning Centre this year. She has since benefited greatly through the invaluable knowledge acquired from the planning process. Not only has she improved her communication skills, Eileen has also maintained high integrity in completing her tasks.

Edited on 20th Oct

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reflections on the Research Project Experience

I guess that it has been a really tough week for everyone, having to juggle with reports, tests and tutorials on top of our normal heavy workload. It is difficult to prioritize these tasks.

For the ES2007S module, my project group members and I had to come out with the whole report in less than a month. In fact, excluding the time we disseminated the survey, we only had 2 weeks to rush through the introduction, findings and interpretations, conclusion and recommendations. It is really amazing that we could actually complete everything in time despite many other commitments.

I must say that we had a positive learning experience in this project because my group members were very cooperative and helpful. Whenever we encountered any problems during the project, we would help one another out and make it a point to edit one another’s drafts. It is different from individual work in which one has to complete everything on one’s own, though at one’s pace and timing.

In this short period of a month, I have picked up the skills of doing research, learnt how to brainstorm for ideas, create surveys and write letters and reports. An important learning experience I have gleaned is to communicate effectively with others about my own ideas through meetings and discussions. In fact, we managed to inject some humour in the midst of serious work and we learnt interesting things about one another. For example, Xiu Wen and I did not know that Sammy speaks mandarin because he was from Myanmar. Thus, we communicated in English until one day, during our discussion, we found out that his Mandarin is actually much better than ours! Thus, bonding in a group is very significant as it can create a better working environment for group members to produce a good piece of work. Personally, I feel a greater sense of achievement from work done in a group than that completed individually because I get to experience working with different people.

However, I feel that we could have improved on our time management whenever we meet up. Perhaps we could have been better prepared to input ideas to improve on the report instead of having to spend time thinking when we got together. Hence, we should improve on this area for our upcoming oral presentation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Intercultural conflict

Setting: In hawker centre at night
Main Characters: Indian uncle from the drink stall(DS) and the Chinese uncle from Bak Cho Mee stall(BCM)
Problem: Because their stalls were at one corner back-facing each other, they argued frequently over all sorts of problem and were not in good terms all along.

I was having late dinner with my family when I encountered a dramatic incident one year ago that horrified me. The DS uncle was serving beers to the customers sitting behind our table while the BCM uncle served his noodles to the same table. BCM uncle mumbled to the customers that ordering drinks from DS uncle was a wrong choice in Hokkien. Sensing that BCM uncle was insulting him, DS uncle also threw some Tamil back to him. BCM uncle flew into rage and insulted him even more in Hokkien. DS uncle then pointed middle finger to him. The rest of the stallholders immediately pulled the two of them back upon seeing an upcoming fight. I thought the ‘show’ was over when the DS uncle went back to his stall but I was wrong. He came out with an empty beer bottle and charged towards the BCM uncle standing a few metres away from him. In a split second, I saw the bottle flew across our heads and landed right at the head of the BCM uncle. I could even feel the leftover drops of beer on my skin when I saw the blood dripping down the BCM uncle’s face. Everyone in the scene was shocked at the sudden reaction of the DS uncle.

From what we heard from the people there, the two of them were very racist and all along they had disagreements over the smallest problem. Even then, the problems were never solved because they had language barrier and great misunderstandings. I never thought language barrier between stallholders could result in such hatred in each other. Such incident was too extreme but I am still appalled that this actually does exist in Singapore. I think both were in wrong because they could not accept language difference. Although the BCM uncle was wrong to criticize DS uncle in the first place, the DS uncle should not have used violence to solve the problem, after all violence will only worsen the problem. Living in this multi-cultural, multi-racial Singapore, we need to be tolerable to the other races, understand their cultures and beliefs and accept our differences.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let's go green!

Before my first job in the office, I never really thought about the issue of recycling until I realized I had to stand at the shredder for a long time to get rid of waste paper. Sometimes, I would be guilty for choosing the wrong option and end up wasting half a stack of paper just to print one document. I believe many of us have committed similar mistakes while printing and photocopying notes. In addition, it takes an average of 4,444 trees to print approximately 400,000 copies of Straits Times in circulation today!(1) Undoubtedly, we have created a lot of wastage unintentionally, but we should bear in mind that it is important to make up for that by sending the used paper for recycling. It does not only apply to paper, even materials like plastic, metal cans and glass can be reused and recycled. 

To begin with, we need to know to what extent young people are aware of the importance of reuse, reduce and recycle (3 Rs); how they sort recyclable materials from other waste during disposal; and if people practice the 3 Rs outside school and at home. The potential people for this survey are NUS students staying in HDB flats. What are the reasons that people do not always practice 3Rs although they know they should be environmental friendly?

Research Questions
How often do NUS students make an effort to sort recyclable materials from other waste when disposal? Why are there people who refuse to be environmental friendly?

Placing more collection bins around every HDB block can raise awareness of the 3 Rs and make it more convenient for people to practice them.

Problem Statement
The objectives of this study are to determine the number of people who practice 3 Rs on their own, and if there is a need to have more collection bins at every block or recycling chutes along common corridors at every level of HDB flats.

Purpose Statement
The objective of this report is to inform the National Environment Agency, and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, about the extent of awareness of 3 Rs among people; as well as the effectiveness of having more collection bins or recycling chutes along common corridors at every level of HDB flats to increase awareness about the 3 Rs.

Reasons for having this survey in the research project
It is important to raise awareness of conserving the environment. Everyone can play a part to save trees and improve air quality by practising 3 Rs. The survey can also help to find out other creative ways to raise awareness among people .


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Solving difficult conflict...

A: “Since you are in the design committee, I would like you to be in charge of publicity matters. Try to come up with a design for a poster by the end of next month because we need to give allowance time before the XYZ event starts just in case of last minute changes on the poster. We need to publicize the event asap.”
B: “But I have never tried designing anything before.”
A: “You can approach those who know if you have any problems.”

This took place when A was participating in a CCA in school. A, being the overall in-charge of the XYZ event, was hopeful to organize a successful event but she needed the help of her members. A few months passed and meetings were held without B because B always had something on. A had yet to receive any reply from B, so A wrote an email to B to clarify if there was any problem. B replied that she needed more time because she had other commitments and had no time to get C to help her. When B finally approached C, C was not in Singapore, so B had to wait for C to come back before C could help her. A then tried to contact C to find out the problem and see if there was anything she could do to speed up the process. C promised to submit a design by the following week. Read on to find out what happened in the end.

I believe there are similar situations that everyone has faced before. You can resolve an issue in many ways but choosing the most appropriate way to tackle the problem will make a difference. If there is communication breakdown between team members, it is very tough to come up with a good project that everyone can recognize.

You may ask why the responsibility was delegated to C in the end when A assigned the job to B at first. I wonder why too. This kind of situation is commonplace. What would you do if you were in such a situation? How would you ensure that things work out smoothly without any delay in your project and that you still remain on good terms with B and C after ironing out the issues with them?

Often, it is easier said than done. B and C would probably feel that A was pushing them too hard, and they did not want to get involved in such a matter, that was why they chose to avoid the problem and act ‘blur’ whenever they could. On the other hand, A wanted very much to help resolve the problem, but A felt hopeless after a few futile tries. What had caused these to happen? Either A took a wrong approach to the matter from the beginning, or that B was simply an irresponsible person and wanted to push her responsibility to C. But what could have been done to avoid such things from happening?

This was what happened later. A gave up waiting for the design from B and C and approached D instead. A few days before the event (after the event had been publicized), A received a sub-standard designed poster from B, but the design was actually done by C. -_- I believe you may have realized that A is actually me, from the tone with which I wrote. I really don’t know what was wrong with my instructions, I wished I could have approached B in person to tell her what I feel about her attitude, but meeting her was another impossible mission. Sometimes, people go all out to avoid you or suddenly disappear when tasks are assigned to them. I even wrote many emails to B to talk about this problem but all she was concerned with was giving her more time to submit the design to me, when she was actually waiting for C to send her the design. That is why we need so many rules and regulations to make people be responsible. Sometimes when communication cannot work, punishments do work really.

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”
Joseph Priestley

*edited on 3rd Sept

Friday, August 22, 2008

My humble views on effective communication

Which way of communication is the most effective? How can our messages be sent across so as to convince others? Conflicts often arise when communication is misunderstood, that is when goals are not met or when valued relationships cannot work out. In fact, we experience conflicts everywhere, be it in schools, at the workplace or even at home. What can we do to minimize such conflicts? This is where effective communication comes into play.

Often, our behavior instinctively encompasses our intentions - the way we portray ourselves in front of others, our hand gestures, the words we use and the manner or tone we use with our words. Therefore, effective communication is extremely important because we need to be tactful when dealing with face-to-face interactions. Effective communication is a two-way path. You can improve yourself by constantly reflecting on your own actions and behavior. Sometimes, judging from a person’s behavior, you can also tell if you are making the same mistake as others and hence have a rough gauge of how others feel about you. It is thus important to learn from others and adjust yourself accordingly.

In the workplace, often than or not, we have to make use of communication in major activities like planning, organizing, directing and problem-solving. Breakdown of communication is normally due to poor precision and clarity, or lack of goals and objectives of communication. The reason people cannot understand us properly is because we do not think before we talk or simply our thoughts could be unorganized. In fact, language barrier can also lead to the same result. Hence I believe that to let ourselves be well-understood when solving conflicts or when working in a team, we require this basic tool of effective communication.