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.
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.
Email has real value in communicating the following:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most of us prepare in advance for the usual questions at an interview, which may not be very creative (“Name three of your biggest weaknesses?”). Some crazy questions can take us by surprise, like:
These questions test our presence of mind, creativity, poise and preparedness for the unexpected.
Recruiters and hiring managers are going increasingly offbeat and testing the agility of the employees due to the unusual demands of the modern corporate office.
If oddball questions are thrown at you, which they will be, you need to respond with ease, not getting fluxed or stunned. Take it as a game and use your presence of mind.
One should not comment on the wackiness of the unexpected interview question. Stay relaxed and don’t show a nervous body language. Keeping your cool is part of the answer.
You can take a deep breath and pause, collecting your thoughts. Be comfortable with this game and do not ask for feedback, as it can give away your composure.
Example: If asked what kind of tree you would like to be, you can answer that you would be like a leader, a large oak tree, or like an apple tree, being useful and beautiful at the same time.
Storytelling is a complex cognitive task on our mind, requiring an application of our short-term, working, and long-term memory.
Earlier writings of folktales and complex stories required the story writers to use some crafting of words and sentences, using repetition and rhyme to aid recall.
Elders and the aged people are able to tell stories in a more engrossing, entertaining way.
This may be due to a difference in the emotional quotient or the ability to capture and narrate human emotions and feelings, as opposed to mere facts and figures of a story.
The basic rules that we need to apply:
Hanlon’s razor is a potent mental model which can be used in any situation where our first instinct is a negative assumption. Any wrong hypothesis related to the bad intentions of others is counterproductive and can play havoc in our lives.
Understanding Hanlon's razor results in a mindset shift, which enables us to view the entire scenario in a third person’s perspective, rather than being in the centre of the drama.
Something we assume is due to bad intentions of others may be just due to ignorance, incompetence, negligence, misunderstanding, laziness or any other probable cause. The negativity trap that our wrong assumptions create can shut all doors of communication. Negative experiences also have more mileage than positive ones.
Fundamental Attribution Error is when we pay too much attention to the personality of a person and ignore the content.
We need to shift the focus away from ‘who did/said that?’ and look at other causes/reasons.
Confirmation Bias is a common fallacy where we feed our existing beliefs and refute any contradictory information.
These belief patterns, no matter how right they may seem, are not immune to error, and we need to make an effort to look beyond the boundaries.
Availability Bias is a mental shortcut that makes us form opinions or base our decisions related to recent information that is easy to recall.
We need to probe deeper and move towards better information gathering.
We usually assume the worst if we get hurt by the people we love and trust. The various biases in our minds (confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, and availability bias) play havoc in our relationships.
Hanlon’s razor can shift our mind from an assumption of bad intentions by our loved ones, towards other possibilities, ensuring that we take steps to understand the situation, rather than reacting reflexively and then repenting.
Uncertainty has a way to reveal everyone's strengths and weaknesses. During drastic uncertainty, employees will seek more information in order to achieve a sense of certainty. During this unstable time, you'll discover the true quality of your team's communication skills. If you team is arguing, productivity is lagging.
Discovering each member's communication preferences will enable you to determine the best way forward.
Passive communicators battle to express their needs and stand by their convictions. This is because they want to avoid conflict. They may be silent during crucial meetings. If they do make a suggestion and it is challenged, they may say, "never mind then."
Aggressive Communicators voice their opinions in a straightforward, often blunt way. They often interrupt others, take up significantly more time than others during meetings and don't take into account others' feelings or opinions.
The passive-aggressive communicators give a cold shoulder to the people they're in conflict with and are friendly with everyone else. Their words seem kind, but the tone of voice, facial expression, or body language expresses displeasure.
An assertive communicator is the ideal style: *They address problems directly and express themselves and their boundaries while maintaining respect for others.
They display emotional intelligence; they're willing to ask for help; they listen to others; they acknowledge and validate other peoples' points of view while also expressing their own perspective.
While remote work has many benefits, one disadvantage is reduced access to crucial communication cues, such as facial expressions. The lack of information can lead to miscommunication and conflict.
To counteract the negative effects and better manage your remote team:
The past, and our understanding of it, is a reflection of our current state of mind.
The past, which is assumed to be static, is in fact constantly changing. Historical facts are looked at with new data, new experiences, and according to what new shape the collective human memory takes.
Our story, which we are narrating to others, is constantly changing with our new experiences and insights, as our lives go by.
These stories become our identity and certain core memories, or life events of immense sorrow or happiness, stick with us forever.
One can change the story of one’s past including what it meant. New lessons can be learned by revisiting the past in an objective manner, without guilt, remorse or any grudge.
Becoming emotionally and mentally tough makes us face our past with courage, and helps us change the meaning of our often traumatic past.
They require an ability to be able to understand two or more languages and accurately express the content and information in the other language.
Translations need not be binary, but should sound natural without being too literal and wordy. The translator should be able to express the content in such a way that one cannot guess that it is a translation.
Translation and interpretation work well if it is the native language of the translators and it is essential to recognize the cultures of both the source and target languages, in order to fully adopt the content.
While both translation and interpretation have the same purpose: making the information or content accessible in another language, there is one major difference.
Translation is done in a written format, while interpretation is oral. Translators, therefore, are excellent writers, while interpreters have great communication skills.
A Language: The Native language of the translator/interpreter in which there is 100% proficiency.
B Language: The fluent language of the translator/interpreter in which all vocabulary, structure, dialects, and cultural influences are known.
C Language: The language may be just ‘workable’ for the translators/interpreters.
Consecutive Interpretation: When a person speaks a sentence and pauses, and the interpreter then works on the content and speaks it in the target language.
Simultaneous interpretation: Is when the interpreter is working on his native (A) language, and speaks whatever is being spoken and broadcasts it to other listeners using headphones and a mic to provide the interpretation in the target language in real-time.