Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Final Reflections on ES2007S

Truth to be told, there is a part of me that is still in denial that the semester is coming to an end. I enjoyed every blogging sessions as it is a platform for me to freely express my views on assigned topics. Time flies quickly and soon enough, this is the last blog post for ES2007S professional communication- a module that I did not regret taking.

I am glad to have taken up this module as I have learnt many fundamental skills and gained exposure to effective communication. The most valuable skill that I have acquired is writing skills which allow me to craft out resume and reports in a professional way. In addition, soft skills like oral communication, have taught me the importance of communicating effectively.

In class, we went through a mock interview by being interviewed and interviewing others. It was an enriching experience as it helped me to understand the thoughts of an interviewer and interviewee. Thus, with these skills, I believe that I can become a more articulate communicator, at an interview as well as in my workplace.

The professional communication skills are important, especially so when I am able to transfer them for my employment in future too. (:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reflection on Oral Presentation

The presentation has finally come to an end and I feel a great sense of relief and satisfaction. My group mate, Fadzillah and I have put in much preparation, hoping to make it a good one. Although not perfect, I believe that we have done a decent job and I am proud of our effort. Nonetheless, there are still rooms for improvement.

Throughout the presentation, we made use of slideware like power point slides with good colorations and graphs to make them interesting. As recommended by our tutor to keep our slides simple to read, we put up point forms and most the time, we would try to engage the audience by elaborating verbally and ‘show and tell’. However, I think that we could do better and should have engaged them more so that they would not feel bored. In this case, more audiovisuals like pictures and videos could be used.

On my part, I feel that the main issue with my presentation is my speed of delivery. I tend to talk very quickly and occasionally, fumble my words. As a result, I would lose my train of thoughts. Before speaking, I made a mental note myself to speak steadily but I was too focused on my thoughts that words come out as quickly as I think of what to say. Perhaps my nerves got the better of me and I learn that having a cue card in hand would help to prevent a blank mind. Still, it is also important that we do not rely on our cards too much but maintain good eye contact with the audience as well. I feel that I still have to work on presenting smoothly and giving good attention to my audiences by maintaining eye contact.

Overall, I am aware that my performance was not as what I expect it to be during rehearsals. Nevertheless, practice makes perfect and I am thankful for the experience gained from this presentation.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Bad Business Letter

Below is a business correspondence letter requesting for payment, which I found while surfing the internet.

Dear Mr. XXX

Outstanding Invoice

Our records show that you have an outstanding balance dating back to January, 2008. Your January invoice was for $445.00 and we have yet to receive this payment.

Please find a copy of the invoice enclosed.If this amount has already been paid, please disregard this notice. Otherwise, please forward us the amount owed in full by March 1st, 2008.

As our contract indicates, we begin charging 5% interest for any outstanding balances after 30 days.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. We hope to continue doing business with you in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Maria McPheeMaria McPhee

Enclosure: Invoice #223

Some comments and critiques about the letter above:

1. Overall, the letter is CONCISE but lack a complete subject line:
The sender should indicate what the invoice is all about by making it clear at the subject head line. This is to capture the customer’s attention and prevent him/her from overlooking the payment.

2. Generally, the language used is CORRECT, COHERENT and COHESIVE:
However, more improvements can be made by adding transitional devices after/before sentences. For example, words like 'In addition' can be added before the phrase 'Please find a copy of the invoice enclosed.' to make the sentences flow better and give it a clearer meaning.

The sender had provided concrete information by stating the exact amount and the date of the outstanding balance. In addition, he also included the due date of the current one as well as the interest charge for the next.

An outstanding balance of $445.00 is only mentioned without any details of the invoice. Hence, this is not complete as it is required for the sender to include sufficient information regarding the invoice in the letter as well.

Overall, the key message of the letter can be comprehended. The sender emphasised her point by bolding the important figures. Lengthy sentences and paragraphs are also avoided.

The letter sounded quite harsh and to make it more polite, a friendly tone should be applied by using words/ phrases like 'hope', kindly', 'could/would be' etc.

For instance,"please forward us the amount owed in full by March 1st, 2008" could be rephrased as "we hope that you can kindly forward us the complete amount owed by March 1st, 2008."

In conclusion, courtesy has an utmost importance when it comes to writing a business correspondence letter. By doing so, a healthy business relationship can be established between the company and their customers. Do you agree? (:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Evaluating Intercultural Behaviour

I have an interesting story to share about an intercultural situation I witnessed during my trip at Country X (which I shall not name for good intention.)

Imagine this, you are running towards the elevator which is closing and you yell out: “HOLD THE DOOR PLEASE” but the person decides to press the 'close' button anyway. This is a behaviour that many of us will find rude and disrespectful. However, after what my local X friend has told me, I realised that it is actually a perfectly normal gesture to do. That is, letting the elevator’s door shut in someone’s face.

Like you, I was surprised yet amused to learn about it as well. However, in their culture, time is precious and the pace of life is very fast as people are always rushing from one place to another. Therefore, it is equally rude to hold the door and keep others in the elevator, waiting. Hence, explaining the reason behind their ‘unique’ behavior.

Indeed, different values affect different norms in behaviour. Behaviours that we find distasteful or rude do not necessarily mean that members of another culture would perceive it likewise. In fact, like in the case for Country X, they consider what we see as disrespectful, as normal or even an act of courtesy. Similarly, foreigners coming from different culture and background might find our culture unacceptable or downright crude.

In such situations, it is prudent to understand the intercultural differences of people in another country before being judgmental towards one’s behavior. This act of consideration will help to minimize misunderstanding and also prevent any unhappiness from escalating into a conflict.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Personal Statement

My name is Emily Lee Hui Ling and I enjoy taking up challenges as they not only make life exciting, but enriching as well. Being a highly motivated person, I am driven to excel and take pride in everything I do. I aspire to inspire and perceive learning as a continuous process.

I am currently a second year undergraduate in the National University of Singapore (NUS), majoring in Life science and concentrating in the field of biomedical science. Being part of this curriculum, it has allowed me to participate in research and gain valuable techniques and hands-on experiences across the whole spectrum of the life sciences. Besides that, laboratory work has instilled in me attitude of determination and discipline as I continue to persevere even when I do not get the expected experiment results. I believe that this is an important trait that all scientists and even aspiring ones, like me, should possess.

In NUS, I value all opportunities that can help me acquire knowledge as well as experiences to develop as an all-rounder person. Constantly, I explore many ways and channels to enhance my interpersonal communication, correspondence and leadership skills. As such, I do not restrict myself to science related modules and challenge myself to take up modules outside my comfort zone. I am presently taking Professional Communication as I hope to become a more effective and articulate communicator, maximising my self-esteem and confidence. Indeed, I have explored in depth the 7Cs of effective communication, meeting, job search and oral presentation skills. These are transferable skills applicable to my workplace and everyday life.

Besides studying, I am actively involved in co-curricular activities in NUS as well. This has helped to expand my social network and also challenge myself to take on responsibility in any club or society. As a marketing manager of Science Club, I have organised and planned events which required me to engage my team mates in discussions and draw up proposals to raise funds and sponsorships. Truly, this participation has provided me opportunity to hone my leadership abilities and to train up as a person of initiatives.

I am certain that with my experiences and skills, I will be able to play an important role and make meaningful contributions to any company I am in.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Internship Application Letter

The link to the internship advertisement is as follow:

Emily Lee Hui Ling
Blk 1
Holland Village

Singapore 623456

2nd September 2009

Dr. Jacqueline Tan
Internship Program Coordinator
Internship HR Office
Lonza Biologics Singapore Pte Ltd
11 Tuas Bay Link
Singapore 637393

Dear Dr. Tan,

Application for internship programme

I am a second year student of Life Science at National University of Singapore (NUS) and writing to express my desire to be attached with your organization for a 10-weeks internship opportunity.

In order to gain practical experience in a research environment and insights to graduate school options, I wish to work alongside scientists in a research laboratory, and would like to request for a vacancy as an intern in your laboratory from May to July 2009.

My research indicates that your company, Lonza, has a deep involvement in science discipline fields of biomedical science, life science and many more. I believe that it can provide an opportunity for me to be part of the research team, where I hope to use my creativity to share innovative ideas, and help bring the company to greater heights.

During my studies in NUS, I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that my science courses have provided, particularly in the study of molecular mechanism of the immune system. I find it interesting on how immunity in our body can be induced against viruses by using some manipulative technique. I came across your laboratory while reading the article on Human Immune Complement 96 StellARray™ qPCR Array that is published by your research group.

Therefore, it has motivated me to write to you as I am eager to participate in work on a similar subject.

My internship with Lonza will allow me to fully make use of my analytical skills and reasonings learnt in the classrooms. As NUS is a research-driven school, I am convinced that the comprehensive teaching approach has equipped me with strong fundamental knowledge on biology. This is complemented by laboratory courses that I have from semester one onwards. In addition, I have also worked as a research assistant in Professor Tan Cheng Tong’s lab for 3 weeks to gain some additional experiences.

Given the chance to work in your team, I am sure that I would be able to contribute positively as my past trainings and enthusiasm for the subject can be put to good practice.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I have attached my CV for your viewing and if necessary, please call me at 93365491 to further discuss about my candidacy.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,
Emily Lee Hui Ling (Miss)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Resolving Interpersonal Conflicts

Conflict is part and parcel of most interpersonal relationships. As people form relationships or interact with one another, it is inevitable that sometimes, for good or bad reasons, disagreement and misunderstanding may arise. This is perhaps, largely due to different personal communication styles, particularly between men and women. Here is one famous quote that describes the differences of how men and women perceive speech -Linguist Deborah Tannen notes that, for women, “talk creates intimacy, but men live in a hierarchical world, where talk maintains independence and status.”

A common identified problem that exists in couple relationships is the failure to understand communication between opposite sexes. Often, our ability to communicate and express our true emotions without hurting anyone is put to many tests. In other words, is Emotional Quotient important to keep relationships working?

Let’s imagine this scenario:

Sally, an employee in a company came home feeling down as she was reprimanded by her boss for not meeting up to his expectation in terms of work performance. She went up to her boyfriend, Tim and poured out her anguish, hoping that he would lend her a listening ear and show sympathy towards her situation. However, Tim was not responsive and did not express care for her. Instead, he dismissed her problem and claimed that she was taking her boss’s comments as a personal attack. He told her not to make a big deal out of it.

As a result, Sally misunderstood Tim and interpreted what he said as an insult. But, this is not the case for Tim as he meant no harm. Soon after, the situation quickly escalated into a full blown fight which was not necessary at the start.

How should Sally and Tim have reacted in this situation to avoid a conflict?
What can they do to resolve the issue?

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, so do they see and hear things through different filters too? And when we begin to realise it, we should seek clarity with another by sharing the ‘distortions’ we experience. Therefore, how could it be done to bridge the gap between the sexes? I would like to hear from you as well!