Gettin' good players is easy. Gettin' 'em to play together is the hard part~ Casey Stengel

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reflection on Teamwork and Communication

With less than a week to the end of the semester and having done several assignments and projects, I have come to a realization that without teamwork and effective communication, many of these tasks would have been almost impossible to accomplish relying solely on oneself.

In terms of communication, I personally feel that my strength lies in my active listening skills and the ability to empathize with my group members. Nevertheless, there is definitely still room for improvement. However, I fared rather poorly in terms of encoding messages as my team members (both projects) have difficulty in understanding ideas I had tried to put across on many occasions especially at the start of this module. This can be imputed to the fact that I was probably not succinct during the discussion as I have a tendency to beat around the bush. But I felt the situation began to improve along the way as I grew aware of this problem and attempted to rectify it. Also, the oral presentations made me realized that I am somewhat still lacking with regards to audience awareness as I failed to maintain eye contact with the audience and I was overly-dependent on my notes.

With regards to teamwork, I am relieved to say that I managed to practice cultural sensitivity and there were no unnecessary conflicts throughout the duration of the two projects, namely CG1102 and CG1108. But I still feel that my competency is somewhat lacking as I often have to rush to meet deadlines many a times for the CG1102 project. One major reason could be due to a lack of commitment on my part and miscommunication among our team. However, through the progression of this module, I did learn to collaborate and coordinate with my team, which I felt was very meaningful as I truly felt that we were really working together as a team and not a group of mere individuals. Another important point that I have garnered from working in a team-based environment is that by being frank and yet tactful , knowingly or unknowingly, we build better rapport with one another which is a crucial trait of a successful team.


Although I am reaching the end of this module, I earnestly felt that I have acquired many essential interpersonal and communication skills throughout the course of which I am very certain will be useful in my career in the future!


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reflection for Oral Presentation
Structure and Content
Personally, I felt that the introduction did manage to evoke the audience’s interest as I made use of real life scenario which they could probably relate to. Also, the transition to Manjula from myself was rather smooth and fluent. However, perhaps I could have elaborated more when I was highlighting the overview of my slides. It was too vague and did not prepare the audience for the complexity of the topic and majority had difficulty comprehending us in the later parts of the presentation.

My usage of language was generally appropriate and formal. I also refrained from using broken English most of the time but my articulation was occasionally incorrect which I believed was mainly due to my unpreparedness.

I did maintain eye-contact with the audience but it was not sustained and I was subconsciously looking in a particular direction. I also made excessive references to the notes in my hand. Furthermore, I should have used cue cards instead. Although I did manage to capture the audience‘s attention during the start, it dwindled when I went into the technical parts. This could have been improved on by making the terms more laymen so the audience could relate to more easily. In terms of posture and body language, I appeared tensed and waved my hands unnecessarily which was quite distracting.

Voice & Visual Aids
My pace of speaking was moderate but I trembled at times due to my nervousness. This affected my fluency and articulation which led to slight slurs in my pronunciation at times. Besides, I should have make use of visual aids to explain my concepts clearer which I did not do so in this presentation.

Overall, I felt that as a team, our presentation did proceeded smoothly but we could have done better with more rehearsals and visual aids in the future.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Re-evaluation of Meeting

After reviewing my last post, I have decided to come out with my own personal checklist to re-evaluate my team on our overall performance during the project meeting.

Was the venue of the meeting appropriate?
Yes, it was very condusive with minimal disturbance from our surrounding.

Were there conflicts?
If yes, were they resolved peacefully and professionally?

Fortunately, our meeting proceeded smoothly and professionally without any disruption. No personal issues were brought up and everyone was patient with one another.

Was the agenda of the meeting adhered to?
Yes, in fact our meeting was very objective-oriented and all the points in the agenda were addressed in elaborate detail during meeting.

Was the meeting finished within the pre-allocated time?
Yes, we finished the meeting on time and in fact, we managed to accomplish more than what we had set out to do.

Were there any major distractions that could have been avoided during the meeting?
The camera was a major distraction. But it was necessary if not, evaluating the meeting would not have been made possible. I also realized I kept flipping my lab sheet incessantly throughout the whole meeting which would have been very disconcerting if someone was facing. Lastly, I kept rocking back and forth towards the end of the meeting which should be strongly discouraged.


Were there any major problems when each of us was conveying our suggestions?
All of us appeared tense and unnatural in front of the camera which may have affected the fluency of our speech and hindered our clarity in explanation.

Did everyone participate actively in the meeting?
Yes, everyone contributed their ideas and raised productive suggestions pertaining to the project.

Was everyone a good listener and good speaker?
Everyone was a good listener. All of us observed the ground rule of "one person speaking at a time". But perhaps Jonathan and I could have been more vocal and try to speak up more often.

Were there any dysfunctional behaviors during the meeting that should be avoided in the future?
We were smiling sheepishly to ourselves at the start of the meeting which may be inappropriate in a real-life board meeting. My head was tilted down most of the time. I should have looked up more often to let people know that I am listening to them as well as to exude more confidence.

Apparently, the program below is supposed to help the user hold a more effecitve meeting. Feel free to email me for the link to this program=)
Disclaimer: I am not responsible in the event your meeting becomes more ineffective after usage of the program.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our very first Project Meeting

Our group consisting of Preeti, Reenuka, Jonathan and myself conducted our very first project meeting on the 12th of February in Discussion Room 7 in the Central Library. Generally, I felt that we were quite well-prepared especially Jonathan who even wrote part of the code beforehand and hence we were able to discuss more effectively the possible obstacles we would meet with later on in the project. Our leader Preeti also helmed the meeting very professionally as she guided us through the objectives of the agenda and ensured that we were able to address all the issues within the timeframe given without any major hiccups. At the end of the meeting, the workload was distributed evenly among the four of us in a short span of time which I felt was rather efficient.

However, I realized that throughout the entire meeting, our bodies were very stiff and we were expressionless most of the time. The atmosphere was also very tense. This was probably due to the fact that we were conscious that our actions were being videotaped on webcam. Also there were a few moments of silence which I believed was due to the fact we were busy thinking of what to say as we were afraid of saying wrong words by accident. Furthermore, I noticed there was a period of time when I was moving back and forth in my chair. Although I was stretching myself, it should be strongly discouraged as it is very distracting. The speaker may also misinterpret it as a loss of interest in the topic of discussion.

Nevertheless, I felt that overall, the meeting was a pleasant and successful one as we were in accord with one another’s ideas and we were tactful in our criticism. I am definitely more aware of the importance of communication and teamwork now.

The video below is a video conference meeting gone wrong.. at least for the girl at the top left hand corner=X

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What would you have done if you could turn back time?

Gilly has been selected to be the program director of an event in her company. Being the program director, she is responsible for drafting a blueprint for the sequence of events and designing of activities for the event as well as preparing the props required. After obtaining approval from the overall-in-charge Aldan, she proceeded with the preparation of the props.

However, when the preparation was almost completed after two weeks, Aldan suddenly dropped by and told Gilly he objected to the blueprint and demanded her to submit a new draft by the next day before walking off. He did not state any reasons for his sudden change in decision. Gilly was taken by surprise as there was not much time from the actual day itself. Moreover, everything had to be started from scratch again.


Later that night, Gilly was composing a text message while watching a drama serial. She wanted to grumble and complain about the indecisiveness of Aldan to her close pal, Alden. However, as she was rather distracted from watching the drama, she sent the text message to Aldan instead. Gilly realized her blunder but decided to feign ignorance as she did not know what to do.

Throughout the rest of the preparation phase of the event, Aldan was very cold towards Gilly and did not speak to her unless it was necessary. The event proceeded smoothly according to Gilly’s second blueprint and it was only after the camp that she realized there were certain restrictions for the activities due to safety reasons that were implemented by the chairman during the eleventh hour. What should Gilly and Aldan have done to avoid such a conflict?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Observation of team behavior: intercultural and interpersonal communication

In the recent weeks, there has been an ongoing “Allah” dispute in Malaysia which I believe many of you are well-aware of. It was mainly due to a court verdict that allowed non-Muslims to use "Allah" as a translation for "God" in the Malay language which has led to violent exchanges mainly between the Christians and Muslim.

The scenario above is a distinct example of conflict arising from the difference in beliefs of two different sub-cultures as well as lack of interpersonal and intercultural communication in resolving the issue at hand. However, I felt that this conflict could have been resolved or even avoided if both sides had adopted a cultural relativism approach instead of ethnocentrism towards the issue .

If we were to place the crux of the above problem in the context of a team with members from various cultural backgrounds, I believed that possessing intercultural communication skills is the key to success in a team. This is because different cultures may have contrasting beliefs and perspective pertaining to different issues which may lead to a clash of ideas in a team and possibly evoke a conflict. However, if we are able to practice intercultural sensitivity and tolerance, we can then mediate any differences amicably that may prevent the team from functioning at its optimal level.

Personally, I have also committed a grave blunder recently by teasing my friend, calling her a “pig”. It was only then that I realized I had forgotten she was a Malay, but she was kind enough not to take it to heart. Upon reflection, I realized the importance of the need to be aware of certain taboos when we are communicating with people from a different cultural background and it is only when we develop intercultural and interpersonal skills can there be effective communication.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Communication in its most general form, is conveying a message from a messenger through a medium to the intended receiver. In the context of a team, effective communication would essentially mean enabling other team members to perceive or understand how the messenger intended his message to be regarded. However, both the sender and receiver have equally important roles to play in order for that to happen. The sender on his part has to take the background information of his audience into consideration before paraphrasing his message according to their prior knowledge of the subject. The listener also has to be attentive in order to decode most accurately what the intended message is.

Teamwork, on the other hand is a word that is full of nuances. To a layman, it may simply means working together in a team. However, I believe it is but a fleeting explanation. It should encompass the synergy of the different behavior, attitude & mindset of each individual person in the team. Teamwork should also comprise of cooperation, cohesion, trust and rapport between each and every member, all of which are built upon via effective communication. Lacking in any of the aforementioned qualities would reduce a team to no more than a mere group where there is a lack of common goal and everyone is for himself.

Hence, communication and teamwork are correlated interdependent elements that are vital to the functioning of a team. Communication can be seen as the link between every team personnel whereas teamwork is hinged on the comprehensive effort of the team as there is no one man show in a team. I personally believe that only when the two components coexist in a team, will it be a force to be reckoned with.