Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interpersonal Conflict and Resolution

"Training to be soldiers.
Fight for our land.
Once in your life,
2 years of our time.
Have you ever wondered?
Why must we fight?
Because we love our land,
and we want it to be free,
to be free."

When Michael Chiang wrote "Army Daze" in 1987, he described a group of enlistees, their experiences in the military and how they supported each other through their basic military training. If only he knew that the real drama usually occurs after they are dispatched into various vocations, he probably would have summed up what he wrote in Army Daze in a page or two and left the rest talking about how everyone tried to "kill" each other while serving their time in the army. Testosterone is so dense in the air that you can literally smell trouble from afar. This, however, is one of the best instances to practise one's interpersonal conflict and resolution! Consider this scenario:

You were extremely angry that you've spent the last Friday working on someone else's share of work and missed the timing to go home. Thus, you were stuck in your camp for the night and had to work through the night so that it would be ready on Monday morning.

On the following Monday, you confronted him, telling him how irresponsible he was to leave the camp without completing his work. In fact, there were a fair exchange of insults and abuses. (Fair exchange and irresponsibility seems to be an understatement at that point of time.) He looked slightly guilty but insisted that he was not in the know. He defended his stand but you would not forgive him.

You would not talk to him for days and refuse to communicate with him in any matter. Your platoon noticed the problem you and this other specialist were having trouble and started taking sides. As a stand-in commander for your platoon, it alarmed you that the platoon is divided into two sides. However, you are still unwilling to forgive the other commander as your anger refuses to dissipate.

What would you do if this had happened to you? How different would you have reacted from how I did? I am all ears!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Entry.

One of my best friends from army, who currently resides in Melbourne, kept in contact with me through a very peculiar way. Everyday, and I really mean everyday, he would send a poke on Facebook. To some, this act would be purely irritating and many would probably ignore that little text at the side that reminds you of his “nuisance” existence. His persistent “poking” is the only way I know he is still doing well in Melbourne (makes me wonder what his email account is for sometimes). Thus, for the last one year, we have been “poking” each other every single day.


What has this got to do with communication? Well, it’s a form of sending our regards to each other, informing each other that we’re all going great, so, it’s a form of communication! Maybe not. Communication isn’t all about “poking” people on Facebook. In fact, conversing face to face may sometimes not constitute any form of communication at all, depending on the parties involved. (In fact, on many occasions, conversing face to face with a few of my friends seems to be a greater obstacle in finding out how they are doing.) Communication is an active process that involves two or more individuals who are actively participating in some kind of an exchange. A sort of give and take, if you like. Hence, if one party fails to receive or deliver, the whole process breaks down.

Communication breakdowns often lead to misunderstandings and unintended conflicts. As our social network grows in complexity, the need for effective and nuanced communication becomes greater. An effective communicator would be one that not only elevate this problem but also bring resolutions to our communication problems.

In the working society, people communicate to exchange ideas. To master the skills of communication is not only about mastering the language. It is about learning what and how to say things that are appropriate in different contexts. It’s about reading and interpreting messages. It’s about picking up visual cues. It’s about listening to your speaker. It’s about so much more.

In the context of a family, communication is vital to keep everyone in the family together. Words hold different meaning when used differently. It is important to communicate effective so has to be able to relate to members of our family better. Ultimately, communication helps to sustain the relationship among members of the family.

After going round and round about how communication is important, we're still missing
the main agenda. Me! How is effective communication important to me as an individual? What will I stand to gain if I possess the basic skills of effective communication?

I feel that the inability to express one's idea is just as tragic as the inability to create new ideas!. As mentioned, communication is a method we adopted to channel our ideas. While ideas are the seeds to our minds, it's effective communication that allows our seed to blossom into a great tree. In essence, effective communication skills will be the tool that enables us to take our ideas a step further through dissemination to the other peers or anyone who may be interested.

Translating what I have said in the context of the working environment: A brilliant presentation content wouldn't be as good if the presenters are not well equipped with effective communication skills. Just as a good piece of art is brought to life by its frame, ideas alone just isn't sufficient to bring any form of "life" to itself (how many times have our lecturers bore us with a seemingly interesting topic with that monotonic presentation?). It's is here I see the importance of effective communication skills: The power to bring life to an ideas.

Words are powerful tools. The ability to wield them brings immense power. Maybe we should all stop talking and begin to communicate with each other.

p.s. and I do not mean merely poking each other on Facebook.