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.



Brad Blackstone said... @ August 23, 2008 at 3:36 PM

First, I love the fish. Thank you too for the good post. You start well with the anecdote. You also review the definition of our key term in a clear, concise way, and then you present a nice discussion of the value of effective communication. All I feel that's missing is the way this general story boils down to your own needs, your own approach.

We look forward to hearing more from you!

Eileen said... @ August 24, 2008 at 12:21 AM

Great sharings!=)

I would say communication brings two or more people together and allows people to have deeper understanding of each other, thus maintaining a good relationship between these people. I agree that words play an important role in communication, in how you being able to use the command of language to approach your loved ones. Often when we become too emotional, we would tend to misuse words unintentionally and hurt others.

What are you thinking of now? Who is feeling guilty now? I’m sure if you are thinking of something bad that has happened recently due to miscommunication and if you are feeling guilty now, means that the relationship with that other person is very important to you. If it is not, then you wouldn’t even bother or think about it. This is why we need to master the skills of effective communication to learn how to control ourselves when we get aggitated, because we all don’t want to lose precious relationships with someone you cherish just because of miscommunication.

weiren said... @ August 24, 2008 at 2:21 AM


I certainly do agree that words plays an important role of conveying our ideas across. I certainly recall a few incidents when I got angry people someone said something really inappropriate or insensitive. Only in retrospect, do I realize that they weren't intentionally trying to provoke. Their choice of words back then was a little strong and held certain connotations that were insensitive.

Effective communication is of paramount importance in order to convey any message or feeling to anyone, may it be our friends, family members or colleagues. Sometimes feelings get mixed into our words and they may end up sounding a little tactless and strong. I guess that's when everyone gets upset over a small issue, just because we weren't careful about what we say.

I thank you for your comment.

weiren said... @ August 24, 2008 at 2:22 AM


Thank you. I initially wanted to state everything clearly to highlight the importance of effective communication. I guess I missed out on how everything links back to me.

I will work on it.

Yu Ming said... @ August 24, 2008 at 8:24 PM

Yes, it is true that many of us feel more comfortable not communicating face to face. Perhaps they too agree that the pen is mightier than the sword and would simply feel more at ease to craft their words without the pressure of needing to reply immediately. Another way of understanding the motivations could be that it is just a whole lot easier to 'pretend' when our body language isn't revealing our secrets.

Poke .... poke ...

Wei Kwan said... @ August 25, 2008 at 1:39 AM

I love what you wrote :) Especially the part where you mention about "In fact, conversing face to face may sometimes not constitute any form of communication at all, depending on the parties involved". It got me pondering on some issues.

Well, it is true that sometimes conversing face to face does not constitute any form of communications. Sometimes even words alone does not suffice enough communications. Silence at the right moment can bring across a much stronger signal as compared to the incessant barrage of words alone. In such instances, silence can even be louder than the words that are being spoken. Maybe that's why they say silence can be deafening :)

Oxy said... @ August 25, 2008 at 10:28 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oxy said... @ August 25, 2008 at 10:31 PM

Hello Weiren, I love your introduction because it really captures my attention! Words ARE powerful tools indeed. As the saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, words, when use effectively, can sway people, mould minds, justify actions (for good or for bad), start war and make peace. It can anger or delight, inspire or perplex. It is something that good politicians, revolutionaries, religious leaders, the media and any other form with the intention to lead/sway/convince/educate the masses cannot live without. Consider how the powerful speech “I have a dream”, made by Martin Luther King, Jr., has tugged the heartstrings of many people. Or how circumstances and great oratorical skills turned an unsociable school dropout into a president and a dictator who led Germany into committing such inhumane acts against the Jews. Words have played important roles in shaping the very world that we live in, our values and our way of life and will continue to be so.

This might not be totally related to what we will be learning but I have been lead into this line of thoughts by your statement regarding the power of words =)

weiren said... @ August 25, 2008 at 10:53 PM

Yu Ming:

I think it really depends on the parties involved. 2 working colleagues may feel comfortable communicating face to face, while others do not. Much has to do with the level of confidence each side possesses (other factors such as status quo, etc.. maybe implicated too!)

Well, I certainly do agree that non-spontaneous reply is an advantage of not communicating face to face. However, along with it are the disadvantages of not communicating face to face as per discussed in class.

At the end of the day, I guess it is up to our judgement as to which channel is the most appropriate for any given occasion and I do believe that can be learned.

p.s. That can be a valid reason to attend class!


Hui Xuan said... @ August 25, 2008 at 10:58 PM

Hey weiren,
really like the way you started your post. Like the poking part. Althought it isn't really a way of communication, but I feel that this simple act actually speaks more than communicating. I feel that it's just like a NVC?

weiren said... @ August 25, 2008 at 11:21 PM

Wei Kwan:

Thank you.

Silence is a double-edged sword, to me at least. True enough, silence at the right moment conveys message that words would probably have failed. Your discussion on silence reminded me of a situation when face-to-face communication and silence both failed!

I remembered when I was in junior college and we had to do this major project when it happened (for those who didn't receive their education in Singapore, the project was graded and constitute to part of the "score" for university admission).

Being very strong-headed, I insisted that certain ideas be integrated into the project. Someone else in the group disagreed and we had a heated argument on whether or not it was necessary to include the idea. It got so bad that we didn't want to talk to each other for a while. The problem was only resolved when the other members stepped in to mediate the problem.

In retrospect, there were some serious communication breakdown on both sides. Silence, in that incident, really did us no good.

Thanks for your comment. =]

Oxy said... @ August 25, 2008 at 11:48 PM

Now this is really not too related. Harry Potter and LOTR rocks!! Its amazing how great writers can make something fictional seems so believable, drawing one into the story, swaying your emotions in the process, leaving one with a sense of loss when the book is finished.

weiren said... @ August 26, 2008 at 12:06 AM

Hui Xuan:

Thank you!

The complexity of our modern communication channels that arise with our growing technologies is certainly something to be reckoned with.

True enough, the poking does not constitute to any form of communication. Maybe not even non-verbal cues (since i do not get to see him). If you go by the standard definitions of communication, poking would probably have failed as a form of communication.

But I hold my reservations. ;)

weiren said... @ August 26, 2008 at 12:14 AM


Wow! You've have more or less described the tremendous influences of words on our world. Though the list is not exhaustive, I really appreciated that you highlighted these 2 great orators in our modern history.

Well, I do not think that it is totally irrelevant to the context of our modules. As with great orators, great speakers and effective communicators all share a common trait: The ability to convey their intended ideas to their targeted audience. Though their tone, words and actions, the audience deciphers what they hear and in response, agree or disagree.

I do believe we have a lot to learn, even by just looking at how these orators spoke to their crowd.

Thanks for commenting. =)

Karen said... @ August 26, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Many thanks, Weiren, for initiating such an insightful interactive discussion with your post and then seeing it through with responses to your group's commentators. Excellent effort, dude, one that can serve as a fine example to other groups!

Brad Blackstone said... @ August 26, 2008 at 9:55 AM

Many thanks, Weiren, for initiating such an insightful interactive discussion with your post and then seeing it through with responses to your group's commentators. Excellent effort, dude, one that can serve as a fine example to other groups!

p.s. Sorry for the deletion in the previous comment. My daughter had not signed out of gmail and her signature came up on my comment!

weiren said... @ August 28, 2008 at 8:44 PM


Thank you sir.