Sunday, November 9, 2008

As a final point....

After three fruitful months, the semester would be concluding soon. But I realised that what I have learnt in the Professional Communication Course (ES2007S), would only serve to be the beginning of a whole new learning experience for me with regards to the path of effective communication; the end of the course does not signify the end of learning good communication skills. Personally, I think that this course have given me valuable insights on how individuals should conduct themselves and communicate with others, and these insights would grant me a better vision and wisdom in improving myself and learning from others. Communication isn’t just a skill that can be acquired from merely reading a textbook or studying it in a course, it is a skill that requires the individual to delve into the fray and learn from the action (or rather the interaction). It is like learning how to swim or riding a bicycle. We can all read books on how to do it, but the best and most effective way is of course to jump right into the water or getting onto a bicycle and start peddling with vigor. Likewise, communication skills would only be honed through much practice. My opinion is that few people or none at all are born to be natural communicators, most of us simply learn as we grow up. Therefore, I think it is hard to be an effective communicator just by reading the ES2007S textbook that we bought or just by sitting through the tutorials. Much needs to be followed up and I believe that as life would have granted me the opportunity to meet up with more people, I would be able to better appreciate what I have learnt in the module.

A revisit to my first blog post has brought to me several reflections. My opinion on “why a developing effective communication skill is important” has not changed much. And from the insights gained from this module, I am pleased to mention that my initial intuition on effective communication was not far from what I have learnt. The core of communication still remains the same and I feel that it will be never-changing. The core of communication still consist of a sender, a message (and its medium) and the receiver. This fact will never change and technological advances have merely altered its facet but never its core. However, through taking this module, I have increased my knowledge on the different facet that communication can take on. Communication is not only about the physical and tangible way to convey our messages (like writing a text, speaking or our body language) but some of the “intangibles” (like personal bias and choice of communication medium) do play a sizable role in making communication better.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Ms Happy Goh for her guidance throughout the course and my project group mates, Ruisheng and Stephany, for their support and hard work for the module project.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

About me...

I am Joanna, currently in third year in NUS, majoring in Life Sciences with concentration in Biomedical Sciences. I am interested in the workings of biology. Essentially life sciences is the study of life, the very foundation of human existence. Hopefully, my academic emphasis will shed some light on the many mysteries surrounding of the human anatomy and also the processes that kept us alive.

On the other hand, Singapore is remaking herself into a biomedical hub and I believe that my education will better equip myself to be part of the remaking process in the rapidly expanding biomedical industry.

I was an active member of the Taekwondo Club during my JC days. During my stint in JC, I have obtained the grade of 1st Dan and have represented the college for national competitions. My keen interest in the sports have continued on as I have occasionally assisted in conducting Taekwondo lessons for schooling children in community centres. This sport is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging, and most importantly, it instills in me the personal quality of discipline. Acquiring this quality has been very helpful in many aspects of my life. My other hobby includes playing volleyball, reading and traveling.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Our research project has been going on for about a month. This project mainly entails a written report and a final presentation, both of these will hone our communication skills and they will probably be a yard stick to see how much we have learnt about professional communication thus far. There are several things which I have gained an insight on from this project, and here on this post, I would like to share them with my readers.

The project started with the need for the group members to brainstorm for possible suggestions and ideas to be researched on, and here I felt that it was really a challenge to convince other people (and hence my group mates), that my proposal was compelling and reasonable. Because of the fact that many proposed idea carries with it, its own set of problems and obstacles, and only if the idea is feasible would it be suitable to be further worked upon. Hence, it is crucial that we must be realistic about our own proposition.

This problem has further implications which I think that I should be aware of. Further on, projects and proposals would once again be part and parcel of my working life. Therefore, from this episode, I felt that I should be more prudent in crafting my suggestions. Appropriate verbal communication skills should be applied as necessary to frame my arguments as succinctly and logically as possible and also to be able to convey my suggestions in a diplomatic manner without compromising on my firm stance. I acknowledge this problem to be my most significant learning experience so far.

Also while the group convenes on our series of meeting to firm out the written report, it is comforting to know that our group have been able to operate efficiently where everyone in the group discharges their role and responsibilities faithfully. All of us have busy academic schedules and yet it is still possible to achieve individual consistency in our work effort. Hence, I think in a way, this is really a commendable and positive lesson to be drawn from the project. This could be due to the fact that everyone in the group has managed to form interpersonal bonds well and this has helped the group to settle down quickly and move in a concerted manner. These interpersonal bonds have definitely improve teamwork greatly and therefore it shows to me, the importance of the need to first work up interpersonal bonds with each of the team mates and from there the foundation of teamwork is laid.

Here, I would like to thank my team mates, Ruisheng and Stephany for giving me great support throughout the whole stint. Let’s work hard for the presentation as well. And also, many thanks to our tutor, Ms Happy Goh, for her continued guidance.

Finally, to end my post, maybe allow me to interpret what being a team means. It means
Together Everyone Achieve More”.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Evaluating Intercultural Differences

I once pass by a coffee shop when I heard a commotion between an old man and a young lady. The old man speaks only hokkien and was presumably a Singaporean customer. The young lady was a Chinese national working at a chicken rice stall. Apparently, the old man made his order entirely with hokkien and it seems that the young lady misinterpreted his order with her limited proficiency in her newly acquired language. The old man refuses to pay for the wrong order. I stood there and observe as the commotion gets more and more heated. In the end, another man came into scene, which I assume was the boss of the chicken rice stall. He defuses the situation with profuse apologies and acceded to the old man’s request.

In light of the increasing trend of foreign employer in all sectors of the economy, there is an infusion of diverse cultural norms. Intercultural difference comes not only between the different racial groups, but also between Singaporeans and foreign talents. It would pose a challenge when cultural norms clashes with each other head on. As can be seen from the above mentioned incident, the old man represents the behavioural and cultural norms of Singapore, and the young lady represents that of the foreign country. Different attitudes and values emerge from their respective upbringing in their own culture and the language chasm differentiates the diverse viewpoints even more causing misunderstanding to occur. Perhaps the incident also shows that there is a need for the locals to gradually adjust their mentality. The deeply engrained cultural norms have to coincide and align with the tide of globalization. With globalization, Singapore can expect to have an influx of foreign talent which not only competes for occupational opportunities, but also living space and resources. The local have to understand that there is a need for such influx to keep the country running smoothly. We have to accept that fact and ensure that in the future such intercultural differences must be amicably resolved.

Lastly, I would like to share the following picture with you. This picture depicts not only intercultural differences but also the various non-verbal cues (NVCs). For the interpretation of the NVCs, please visit: . You can scroll over the picture for the interpretation.

Our Final Research Topic

Have you ever experienced coming to school early in the morning for 8 am lectures, then having to wait for 6 hours for your next lecture at 4 pm? Based on this observation and problem that some students face, our group has proposed to research on having a 'Powernap House' on campus.

The 'Powernap House' is an air-conditioned lounge where students can visit between lectures/tutorials for a short nap to recharge their batteries. There will be chairs (as shown in the survey) where students can sleep on in 2 rooms one for males and one for females. We believe that by doing so, students would be able to concentrate better in classes and hence absorb the new knowledge more efficiently.

However, although we feel that this concept house may benefit students in general, we would like to limit this project to NUS at the moment. Also, to enhance the development of this concept house, our group would like to conduct a survey and research to find out if this idea is generally welcomed by NUS students, and what ideas/suggestions others could give us to improve on the concept. Lastly, we would like to obtain answers to our queries on certain issues through the survey.

Proposed Title
A Powernap House within NUS

Research Question
What are NUS student's responses to a proposed Powernap House? Do they think it is feasible and beneficial to them?

NUS students welcome this idea of a Powernap House and it will provide students a place for rejuvenation, hence helping them concentrate better in class.

Problem Statement
The objective of this study is to determine if NUS students welcome the idea of a Powernap House and whether they are able to concentrate better in class after taking a power nap.

Mr Joseph Mullnix (Deputy President, Administration), The Dean of various Faculties, NUSSU, any other student welfare societies.

Purpose statement
One of the objectives of this report is to inform relevant management and welfare committees of the student's views of having a Powernap house. The second objective is to convince these targeted readers that having such a concept house enhances student's productivity in class and the final objective is to encourage the implementation of this service.

A survey would be conducted to obtain student's opinion on this idea. We would like to obtain a target of 100 surveys. Apart from the surveys, our group would conduct research through the internet on the benefits of having power naps.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Eating disorder suffered by science students

I would like to propose the following issue to be researched, it is to look into the issue of congestions in Science Faculty Canteen during lunch peak hour and propose feasible solutions to this perennial problem with the influx of ever increasing size of student cohorts.

The rationale of me choosing this particular issue is that a lack of seating often forces science students to skip their lunch due to our rigid timetables. Alternatively, students would buy takeaways and have their meals in study areas like the benches along the walkway, this secondary effect deprives students who want to revise, a revision location. Consequently, this kind of “spillover” effect poses efficiency problems, as students who want to study, can’t find a place to do so; students who want to have their lunch, would be forced to have it in study locations. Another concern that may arise with high volumes of takeaways will be the use of plastic containers that are likely to pose environmental problems.

As a science student, I have been affected by this problem. Therefore, I would like to propose that there should be addition of food stalls with seatings or café to be located at the other corners of the Science Faculty, so that the student population could be redistributed to the interest of all science students.

A survey targeted at science students, should be carried out to gauge the student’s interest in this issue and whether the general populace thinks that the canteen congestion is a serious problem that affects not only their health and happiness but also their academic performance, through primary and secondary spillover effects. Also, the survey should include possible locations for the new café (something like Megabitez). The general idea is to redistribute the student population across various locations to reduce congestions, essentially decentralising meal provision services.

Here, I would like to hear comments from the reader about the practicality, feasibility and whether it is of the student’s interest to look into this issue. And also, what do you expect the survey results to be if it is carried out.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Resolving interpersonal conflicts

As mentioned in my previous post on the importance of developing effective communication skills, one major consequence due to the lack of it is the onset of interpersonal conflicts between individuals. These conflicts can be very devastating in many relationships, because if these are left unresolved or resolved unsatisfactorily, it might lead to relational breakdowns. Here in this post, I would like to relate to the readers on one of my experiences in such matters.

This happened sometime back when I had a conflict with my boyfriend. He had promised me that he would attend my friend’s birthday party together with me. But in the end, he stood down on his promise. He had actually fallen ill a week prior to the birthday party but a few days before the party he already had a marked improvement in his health and he had almost recovered entirely. But on the actual day itself, it was raining heavily. I asked him if he still wants to attend the party and he say he would attend. Then an hour before our meeting time,he called me to tell me that he don’t feel like going because of the downpour as getting drench might cause a relapse in his illness. I was very angry with him, not for not showing up for the party itself, but I think he was just giving excuses not to go. We had a minor conflict on that but we both stand strong on our arguments. This standoff lasted for days before he apologise and admitted his guilt.

This entire episode aligns closely with an analogy one of my close friends had shared with me. He told me that relationship of any kind, particularly those of BGRs, is like the diplomacy of two hostile nations situated side-by-side each other (Yes, I know it is strange to make analogy of a loving relationship with two hostile nations fighting each other). The two nations are constantly aware of their own national borders, while both try their best to invade the other’s territory in order to expand their own border. Border skirmishes occur regularly to cause a shifting of border and with the conclusion of these skirmishes, a winner is determined by how much more border space he or she gains. Interpersonal conflicts are something as similar. We get into a conflict because we have different values, beliefs and most importantly, expectations, much like what hostile nations do.

Resolving the conflicts can likewise be analogise by the same example. In the case of the two warring nation, a solution to the hostilities can be achieved either when a winner emerges or when a compromise can be struck out. Similarly, resolving a interpersonal conflict can usually be resolved when there is either accommodation, compromise, avoidance or collaboration.

For the readers of my blog, do you think that what my boyfriend did to resolve the conflict was appropriate?