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Communication

102 STASHED IDEAS

1800s Science Fiction
  • 1818: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, who engineers a living creature in a hideous experiment. The novel is seen as a warning against the expansion of science without a moral context.
  • 1870: Jules Verne's tale of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is about the undersea adventures on the Nautilus. Verne imagined diving apparatus and a submarine.
  • 1895: HG Wells' The Time Machine is about time travel. It fuses science journalism with popular romance.
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Communication

  • 1974: Doris Lessing published a tale of post-apocalyptic societal breakdown in the novel Memoirs of a Survivor.
  • 1975: Academic and feminist Joanna Russ wrote The Female Man. She describes a positive community of women. The four main characters live in parallel worlds in different historical times and spaces.
  • 1979: Douglas Adams's series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a parody of life across the Universe.
  • 1921: Yevgeny Zamyatin writes We after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The story is set in a dystopian society where people are numbered and live in glass buildings to allow them to be watched by the state.
  • 1926: Hugo Gernsback launches a pulp magazine and calls its fiction "Scientifiction", which blended romance, vision, and scientific knowledge. In 1929, Gernsback coins "science fiction" in his magazine.
  • 1932: Aldous Huxley writes in Brave New World about a dystopian world where genetic engineering becomes the norm and where science has eliminated unhappiness.
Science fiction in the 1700s

Science fiction emerged about 300 years ago when science made great strides. Authors tried to understand their world by imagining a possible future.

Gulliver's Travels is the earliest science fiction. This satirical 1726 travel narrative is considered to be a precursor of the modern science fiction novel. Lemuel Gulliver encounters utopian and dystopian societies during his voyages. The novel describes scientists on islands whose experiments are pointless.

  • 1949: George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four during the Cold War. The book is set in a future Britain where the government monitors all private and public activity.
  • 1950: I, Robot is a collection of short stories written by American author and biochemist Isaac Asimov. He focuses on the future role of robots in society and also introduces his Three Laws of Robotics.
  • 1951: John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids is a tale of giant sentient plants. It is about a hero's efforts to survive in a broken society.
  • 1984: William Gibson blurs the boundary between human and machine in Neuromancer. Gibson's "console cowboys" chase each other through a virtual space known as the "matrix". Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" and is known for his prophetic visions of technology.
  • 1987: Octavia E Bulter wrote Dawn as part of a Xenogenesis trilogy to explore concepts of reproduction between species, gender and sexuality.
  • 1993: Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is about the colonisation of Mars as an analogy to the western expansion of the USA.
  • 1962: JG Ballard's The Drowned World is the first of his novels dealing with ecocatastrophes. He deals with the idea of societal breakdown after the polar ice caps have melted.
  • 1968: The futuristic novels of Philip K Dick provide the storyline for many modern sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is considering what makes a person human.
  • 1969: Author Ursula K Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness examines gender. Her characters are androgynous, taking on male or female characteristics every month.

Before going to an interview, ask for unbiased feedback from your mentors, peers, family members and friends, just to gain some clarity. We usually would miss those true negative aspects due to our skewed state of mind.

An outside perspective shines a light on our hidden mistakes and the competencies and attitudes that we need to highlight. It helps to be honest about our fears and note down the feedback, working on your ‘interview performance’ later.

Frozen At Job Interviews: The Inevitable Anxiety Spiral

Many of us get stuck or frozen at job interviews, even though we have practised long and hard for handling all sorts of questions. This is due to the anxiety spiral that we get caught in, putting pressure on ourselves.

Some stress and anxiety are inevitable in any interview, something that will ‘knock-off’ about 25 per cent of our preparations. We need to over-prepare to balance the odds, practising hard for the tough questions that push us into the anxiety spiral.

Many of us have the habit of endlessly brooding over negative events after they occur, subjecting ourselves to hard self-criticism. Many people who are perfectionist also amplify small things that go wrong. One needs to recognize and manage such behaviour by breathing exercises or practising hard to reduce anxiety.

One can try being honest and provide creative answers to the questions using their past experiences, both personal and professional. It doesn’t have to be scripted all the time.

It helps to self-conduct mock interviews and practice the tough questions, especially the initial words you may have to blurt out while you frame your real answer:

“That’s a great question, and I haven’t dealt with that exact situation yet. Could you elaborate a bit so that I can take a minute to flesh out my strategy in this scenario?”

Keeping your tone open, confident and curious helps in this tightrope walking of difficult questions. Saying ‘I don’t know’ doesn’t help anymore.

Email has real value in communicating the following:

  1. A formal communication decision.
  2. Confirming or scheduling appointments with the help of Calendar.
  3. Documenting important conversations.
  4. Company-wide announcements that are high-impact and need to be communicated to all in real-time.
We Use Email The Wrong Way

Email is essential in a workplace and yet can suck our productivity in a uniquely annoying way. On an average workday, we check our email 15 times, which leads to wasted time and distractions.

Email isn’t even the best way a person can communicate, as it does not provide the recipient with our intended tone, intentions and purpose in an exact way.

  • Email is best used for clear, unambiguous communication that is important and may be shared with others.
  • If something is super-urgent or requires a lot of explaining, picking up the phone is the way to go.
  • When we require emotion or the issue is complex, a face-to-face meeting is the best bet.
  • For non-critical queries that anyone can answer, a slack message does the job.

Human nature tends to conform to the majority and leans towards safety in numbers. Adopted practices (like email) become the default even when they are not the best solution because everyone else is on it.

Work is done more effectively with in-person or virtual meetings, while instant messengers are less formal and more intuitive while being easy to check.

  1. Active Listening Skills: People with social intelligence pay genuine attention to what the other person is saying. They make the other person feel understood and connected.
  2. Conversational Skills: Socially intelligent people are tactful, humourous, sincere, meaningful and appropriate in their conversations.
  3. Managing Reputation: The people are able to balance authenticity with a thoughtful reputation.
  4. No Arguing: People with social skills understand that arguing has no return on investment, and making the other person feel bad while proving something isn’t going to be of any benefit whatsoever.
Social Intelligence

American psychologist Edward Thorndike defines social intelligence as ‘the ability to understand people and act wisely in human relations.’ These skills can be acquired with practice.

Some people can sense how other people feel and what to say in social gatherings. These confident, caring people seem to have people skills, but in fact, what they have is social intelligence.

  1. Be observant and watch how people interact with others.
  2. Try to increase emotional intelligence recognizing your feelings and emotions as well as of others.
  3. Try to recognize negative feelings like jealousy, anger and envy in social situations.
  4. Respect cultural diversity and understand that other people might have different customs and mindsets.
  5. Do not interrupt and practice hyper listening skills.
  6. Truly love your loved ones and appreciate people who are important in your life.
  7. Study social situations and pay attention to what people are doing, good or bad.

Instead of acting on your assumptions, go to the facts. Understanding the individual styles of employees can also give interactions more context and help avoid misunderstandings.

  • Prioristizers are logical, analytical, and data-oriented people who focus on goals and outcomes. They don't like to engage in chitchat.
  • Planners thrive with structure, planning, and talking about the details. They often communicate in bullet points and numbers.
  • Arrangers are supportive, relationship-driven team members who work best when they form connections.
  • Visualizers are big-picture thinkers who want minimal details. They will often email at the last minute, and apologize for short deadlines.

To avoid unnecessary conflict, it is essential to understand the nuances of colleagues and how they work.

Accept that others may not work and communicate the same way you do. If you see someone looking to the side during a video conference, instead of thinking they are not paying attention, understand that they may really be taking notes. Another person may want to spend time on a connection before they engage with the content.

Remote work and the lack of context around communication

Virtual communication often lacks the nonverbal clues we notice with in-person conversations.

To compensate, we often make assumptions or jump to conclusions that can cause harm to our work relationships.

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