#6 Reflections on the course

I vividly remembered the very first session for this course, we had to strike a conversation with almost every other classmate while filing up a worksheet. That left a deep impression in me as I am not someone who is prone to initiating a conversation with a stranger. Despite it being a mandatory step in almost any new social setting, I find it awkward and simply strange to do so. Having said that, the very first ES2007S helped me realize the trick to maintaining a conversation. It goes way beyond the content, to nonverbal that indicates interest or boredom of the topic. This is extremely helpful in terms of choosing the topic to strike a conversation. Another key point is listening. Whilst it is in our nature to multitask; that includes trying to think of the next possible topic and listening at the same time. One interesting takeaway for me was how being an active listener can solve it all. By being an active listener, it actually helps your audience to know that you ARE into what he/she is saying and this helps him/her to open up to you more and this is how the conversation rolls on. Instead of constantly trying to find a common topic or a new interesting topic, we can all start by listening!

To sum it up, I guess this is the major takeaway for me and I definitely see myself taking that bold step to network and socialize more now than before. 🙂

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#5 Reflection on Oral Presentation

For my oral presentation, I felt that I managed to internalize the contents pretty well given that I was presenting on the part which I did for the proposal. This gives me a slight advantage in better understanding in knowing my contents. Thus, I find that I do not have to painstakingly memorize the points in which I have to cover for the presentation.

This complacency in the grasp of my contents is the possible cause of my mistake during the actual presentation. In which I completely forgot about a particular slide. This experience, albeit traumatizing, has taught me how to deal with mistakes in front of a crowd. I think it is definitely a good lesson learnt on how to recover from any glitches in front of your audience and moving on from there.

Overall, I thought this was a different experience for me, compared to peer teaching or any other presentations I have done prior to this. Given that the nature, audience and purpose of the presentation was wholly different. One in which I have yet tried – selling/pitching your ideas to your desired audience. Searching for the right tone of voice/the ideal mode of delivery before the presentation by understanding your target audience was a crucial point I have learnt from the feedback during the mock presentation.

I realized that it is only when you have fully internalized, and picture yourself in the shoes of your target audience before the presentation. From there, find out the right mode of delivery to deliver your contents to your audience that you will be able to reach out to your audience more effectively. Imagine yourself as the audience. How/what will convince you?

“You have to be able to convince yourself before being able to convince others.”

This is my main takeaway from this OP session and definitely one which I will remember to apply (hopefully) in my future presentations.

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#4. Intercultural Communication

When I was backpacking around Europe, I have had the opportunity to experience the myriad culture across Europe which is contrary to my previous belief/stereotype that Europe only has one culture – the European culture. Having spent close to 7 months in Europe, I can say that I have adapted pretty well into the local culture, so much so that when I returned to Singapore, I was surprised by the Singaporean culture. I will address this one behavioural pattern which took me quite a while to adjust back into; that is the way Singaporeans or rather, Singaporean Chinese greet.

In general, Europeans greet each other with a hug and a peck on the cheeks; which varies from one peck to three pecks depending on the culture of the respective European nation, and of course to whom you are greeting. This will usually be followed by this question “How are you?”.

When I first got to interact with the Europeans, It seemed puzzling to me why do they bother asking such a redundant question, when we know that the other person will either say “Great!” or otherwise brush it off! I was sceptical of the sincerity of the “how are you”. It was when I realised “how are you” is actually akin to our “hello” that I start to understand that saying “how are you” does not necessarily imply that he/she is expecting you to reply “oh my day truly sucks, my blah blah blah…” of course, having something special to share with your friend would be great. But what I am trying to drive at here is that, “how are you” simply means “hello!”.

Another behaviour which took me a long while to adapt back into Singaporean culture was the fact that Europeans hug when they greet. Having experienced the difference between an awkward wave, which we, Singaporeans are so accustomed to versus the warm and friendly hug that brings everyone together instantly of the Europeans. I would definitely prefer the latter. It was definitely a challenge for me to adapt back into the Singaporean culture. I remembered how when I first met my friends upon my return. My immediate response was extending my arms for a hug and offer pecks on the cheeks. That, caught my friends off guard and led to awkwardness between us. Thankfully, they weren’t anything more severe.

All in all, I want to just say that perhaps, we can adapt into the local culture as easily we want, however, regardless of how well you blend into their culture, we have to make the effort to switch back or to the culture of our host nation. That is part of adapting and respecting the culture of the country.

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#3: Application Letter Critique

The Hiring Manager

Human Resource Department

8 Eu Tong Sen Street, #20-89/90

The Central 059818 Singapore

FGE@fgenergy.com _________________________________________________________________________________

23 February 2013

Dear Hiring Manager


I am writing to express my interest as a Specialist consultant in Gas/LNG in FACTS Global Energy. My expected graduation is in May 2013, with honours in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. I am keen on starting my career with FACTS Global Energy as I believe in the mission of providing high-quality strategic advice and giving personal attention by visiting their offices and by establishing open and direct dialogue between staff and clients. With FACTS’s presence in 7 nations around the globe to facilitate personal interaction with clients, is especially alluring for me, as I am deeply intrigued by the idea of intercultural communication and possible overseas working opportunities with FACTS Global Energy eventually in the near future. Thus, I do hope to be given the opportunity to be part of your esteemed firm.

During my internship with Jurong Consultants, I have also had the opportunity to be involved in various projects that are based in Middle East – Dubai, Qatar etc. all these projects involved liaison with clients overseas. Thus, I do know the importance of maintaining a professional relationship with clients. Moreover, during my exchange in Europe, I have travelled to 20 countries and 100 cities in Europe and attended a course on effective cross cultural communication and organizational behaviour with 30 other nationalities; thus, helping me gain insights into effective communication with different nationalities which I believe is an invaluable asset in this globalised economy.

Having been through a five month rigorous training in public speaking and professional communication also equips me with the necessary skill sets to ensure competency in case presentation to clients – a fundamental skill in the consultancy field. On top of that, I have had the privilege to intern at Bluetec Investment company for one month during my vacation to gain insights in the highly volatile and challenging banking and trading industry. These, I believe are the intangible skills which I can offer to help FACTS Global Energy pursue its mission in  providing high-quality and personalized strategic advice to clients.

I really look forward to being given the opportunity by your esteemed firm to an interview session with you, to get to know more about FACTS Global and for you to get to know me better at your convenience. You may reach me at (+65) 91234567 or XXX@gmail.com.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours Sincerely,

Chew Zhi Yan Aster

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#2 Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

classic example of conflicts

a classic example of conflicts

So, for this post, I am supposed to describe in detail an interpersonal conflict situation. I don’t know about you, but whenever the word “conflict” comes up, other than the classical example of badman and joker’s long standing conflict, there is this one incident which I will always remember. And it is this very incident which I tell my friends, especially my juniors. Whilst sharing something this personal might bring judgement and criticism from people, but I guess what I really want is for people around me to learn, and hopefully not fall into that very same trap that I did 7 years back.

Just some background information, back in my secondary school days, my CCA had 2 heads (main in-charge) and 2 vice heads (assistant in-charge).  I happened to land the role of one of the head, alongside the other in-charge, Alice (superficial name). What happened was that being young, ambitious and highly competitive, I used to view my CCA as 2 clans; one under Alice and of course, another under me, when it was really, supposed to be of just one entity. A lot of times, during leaders meeting, when decisions were being made, instead of looking out for the benefits of the entire CCA, I would be biased towards the interest of “my own group”. Being thrown with such huge power all of a sudden have led me to become hungry for more power and thirsty for more authority, which made me unreceptive to Alice’s ideas and insists on going my way for everything. This of course, resulted in resentment from the other executive committee members; even the vice-heads were fully aware and unhappy with me. But at that point in time, I realised nothing! Until things became obvious, where I was basically prejudiced and outcasted by Alice and my other 2 vice heads. It was then that I confronted Alice and the 2 vice heads. We had a long and huge argument, with each side throwing accusations and criticism at each other that led to unpleasantness me and the rest. Despite our agreement to continue working together when it comes to official matters, we stopped contacting each other apart from work related matters even after graduation. Basically, our friendship was lost.

At that moment, being young, insensitive and foolish, I just thought “They are the worst friends one can have”. It was only later on when I look back that I realised, “Thank God for all of that!” As it was only after throwing out all our frustrations and displeasure and upon reflecting on my actions that I realised what grave mistakes I’ve made back then. Those friends were the ones who have seen the worst side of me, instead of washing the linens in public; they were the ones who took the courage to confront me behind closed doors to give me feedback. They were the ones who painstakingly endured all my irrational and nonsensical moments

I have to confess that I really owe them a lot in so many ways. Without that experience, I might have been still the same old me 7 years ago; tactless and obnoxious. So, they were the ones who have made me who I am today in so many ways. Imagine you were in my shoes, what would you have done to salvage our friendship after such a huge argument and conflict? Honestly, it’s something which I really regret not handling well enough to cost myself 3 great friends.

On a lighter note, the next time you’re in a conflict, remember, whoever is giving you feedback are your true friends, because, only true friends would be courageous enough to give you feedback simply because they truly care for you and want to bring out the best in you 🙂

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Post #1 : Why effective communication skills are important?


Communication is the process of sharing information, thoughts and feelings between people verbally or nonverbally. An average woman can chalk up to 20,000 words in a day and 7,000 words for an average man. Clearly, it shows how we, as humans are constantly communicating with one another.

Thus, effective communication skills come as an indispensable skill as it extends the concept of communication to that which ensures the comprehensibility of the intended message to the targeted audience(s). Effective communication skills also encompass the ability to provide appropriate feedback/response to bring the conversation to a deeper depth. The ability to effectively put across our intended message and to give appt response helps us better understand a person or situation, thereby, enables us to resolve differences, build trust and respect, and create environments where creative ideas, problem solving, affection can flourish.

However, not everyone is capable of communicating effectively in all situations. Much as we want to communicate effectively, there are definitely “sticky occasions” whereby we just do not know how to put the right message across aptly or even to voice our opinions without causing unnecessary misunderstandings, hurt and conflicts which can give rise to frustration in personal and professional relationships.

This is especially common in social settings where conflicts and differing ideas are often inevitable. There is definitely a need for all of us to address negative or difficult messages at some point in time. The distinction between communication and effective communication is that the latter gets the idea put across without creating conflict or destroying trust, perhaps even improve the team dynamism in the process. Thus, I hope that by equipping myself with the right professional effective communication skills, it’ll enable me to better connect with my family, friends, and colleagues in all kinds of situation.

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