A Formula of Effective Communication

Why are certain persons more successful than others in their personal lives and in their professional environment? Some are perhaps very successful at their homes, having good relationships with their spouses and children, but having many communication problems in their office: problems with bosses, but good relationships with co-workers or vice versa, good relationship with the bosses, but conflicts with other managers and subordinates. Others again are having good relationships at the office at the expense of their marriages and family life: too much time is being spent at the office and the family at home is being felt ignored and left behind.

The root cause of the problem is communication or to be more exact: effective communication. It is actually surprising that a lot of communication is going well most of the time. However, if a communication problem happens, the question: what went wrong? Usually remains an unanswered question. There are plenty of books, articles and websites dedicated to the problems of communication. Some give scientific evidence of communication barriers and obstacles, but leave finding practical solutions to the reader. More practically oriented recipes are difficult to implement due to lack of time and practice. For example the trait assertiveness: it has become common knowledge that it is important to be assertive in daily life. But how can one be assertive if he or she is introvert by nature? On top of personality (extrovert versus introvert), there is the issue of culture: people from certain countries are simply less extrovert than from other countries.

Wouldn’t is be extremely useful to have a simple formula of effective communication which can be used in all circumstances? I think the following formula would be helpful:

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION=

SELF-INTEREST + INTEREST OF OTHERS – DISTURBING FACTORS

OR

EC = SI + IO – DF

Let’s look at the three elements of this formula.

SELF-INTEREST

When people communicate, self interest is probably the main reason for communication. One is far more interested in his or her own interest than in the interests of others. The above formula can actually be simplified even further by simply stating that communication is equal to self-interest. For this reason, communication is rarely effective because one is not trying to find a common ground in interaction processes but merely seeking a way to fulfill certain short-term interests. The most important problem in communication is probably asymmetry. The two parties in question are having different agendas and different interests which is further complicated by asymmetries of, knowledge, power and authority. For this reason, negotiation skills and tactics have become a very important trait of modern civilization. In the old days, physical strength was the determining factor to force the other party to compromise. Thanks to civilization, consensus can now be reached by communication. This civilizing process is basically a shift from a “command and control” communication culture to a “negotiating and persuasion” culture.

This shift has resulted in a greater emphasis on the ability to effectively communicate verbally and non-verbally with each other. This also implies better education in which development of dialogue skills has become the backbone of modern education. One is at a young age already required to be able to express their thoughts clearly in class presentations, essays, reports and not to mention in theses of various sorts in tertiary educational settings.

INTEREST OF OTHERS

The interest of others has probably been the most important issue in many textbooks about effective communication. The ability to listen, to get and give feedback, to control anger (“anger management”), conflict resolution, stress management, etc., have been discussed in great lengths by many authors, scholars, management trainers, etc.

The problem is accommodating the interests of others have become more important with the introduction of information technology and the ability to trade goods and services in cyberspace. True globalization has probably already occurred in cyberspace where a global 24 hour economy has been created where everybody is exchanging goods, services and information all over the world.

Everybody has become a customer! It is important to look at the needs of others as your customer. This marketing concept was first used in transactional settings, but was introduced in learning organizations and now has become an important concept in all corners of life.

The issue of discovering the interests of others has even been infiltrated by non-scientific ‘tools’ like astrology, numerology and tarot cards. Before the discovery of these tools, one was still utilizing (and still is utilizing) many scientific tools offered by psychologists ranging from psychoanalysis, conversation analysis, transactional analysis and the sort resulting in various therapies which might be effective depending on the willingness of the buyer to take it seriously or not.

How can one discover the interests of others? This requires a proactive approach from both parties. Two strategies might be helpful. The first strategy is called the PAIR approval strategy: Placate (listen, empathize, respond with concern); Attend (to the other); Investigate (circumstances details of issue); Resolve (decide on action to take). The second strategy is called the five-step method: listen, respond, decide on action, take action and follow up.

DISTURBING FACTORS

The third element of effective communication is probably the most difficult one: how to eliminate disturbing factors or how to overcome communication barriers. There are basically six types of barriers between people communicating with each other: differences in perception, incorrect filtering, language problems, poor listening, differing emotional states, and differing backgrounds. In order to overcome these barriers, one must be willing to avoid selective perception, condense messages to the bare essentials, use specific and accurate words possible, always verify your interpretation of what’s been said, be aware of the feelings that arise in yourself and in others as you communicate, and attempt to control them.

Communication barriers also exist within organizations. Although all communication is subject to misunderstandings, business communication is particularly difficult. Barriers can be caused by: information overload, message complexity, message competition, differing status, lack of trust, inadequate communication structures, incorrect choice of medium, closed communication climate, unethical communication, inefficient communication, and physical distractions.

There are three distinct moments which can cause many communication barriers in organizations; during negotiations, when dealing with customers, and holding meetings. When you are negotiating, psychological barriers may arise. These psychological barriers may be yours or may belong to the other party. Be aware that people carry some of these barriers and ‘listen’ for their effects. Look for signs of them in the other party (and in yourself) and use your communication skills to ease or lower these barriers. Dealing with customers, in turn, can be very hard because some customers are hard to please and difficult situations can arise. If a high level of service is not provided, the result will not only be loss of business, but often an increase in the number of difficult and even abusive customers. They have not yet been lost. Deal with them professionally.

The negotiating process, finally, demonstrates a fundamental tension between the claiming and creating of value. Value claimers view negotiations purely as an adversarial process. Each side stride tries to claim as much of a limited pie as possible by giving the other side as little as possible. Each party claims value through the use of manipulative tactics, forcible arguments, limited concessions, and hard bargaining. Value creators, in contrast, call for a process which results in joint gains to each party. They try to create additional benefits for each side in the negotiations. They emphasize shared interests, developing a collaborative relationship, and negotiating in a pleasant and cooperative manner.

Modern Warehouse Construction Techniques

Warehouse construction contractors are increasingly designing multi-functional facilities that are safe and comfortable for users and aesthetically appealing. This translates to increased productivity, cost savings, enhanced corporate image and consequently, more profits. Choice of construction technique is therefore of essence during the planning phase of warehouse construction.

Techniques Used in Modern Warehouse Construction

Warehouses are often large structures that may require ample investment and time to complete. With modern construction techniques however, these structures can be put up cost effectively and in no time, an appealing aspect especially for businesses that need the space within the shortest time possible. Techniques such as pre-engineered buildings, prefabricated steel and tilt up construction buildings are durable, modern-looking and take a relatively short time to complete.

Prefabricated Steel Buildings

The components used in prefabricated steel construction come as complete kits from the manufacturer. These are then set up according to the design of the building within a short time to complete the structure.

Many commercial applications such as warehouses, hangars, call centres and garages are constructed using this technique. Because the materials allow a lot of flexibility, this technique is ideal for warehouses that store goods requiring both enclosed and open space or extremely high rooftops to allow easy movement of huge consignments.

Post-Frame Construction

Also known as timber framing, this technique uses engineered wood frame system. Wood columns and posts are implanted in the ground or mounted onto a concrete foundation. Other framing components are then attached to create a framework onto which other components such as the wall girts and roof are attached. The sturdy wooden columns support the rest of the framing components to create the building.

Post-frame construction is a light-weight, flexible, sustainable and cost effective technique used in many modern commercial and residential applications including warehouses and others such as convenience stores, garages, strip-malls, office complexes and many others. The wood frames can support a variety of materials for interior finishing and exterior facade including brick, stone, steel and vinyl among others. This gives the owner a wider choice regarding the finishing.

Tilt Up Construction

This technique is popular in the US and is commonly used for commercial applications. It basically involves constructing wall panels horizontally and then mounting them up in place on a concrete slab foundation. Footings attached all around the slab are used to secure the wall panels in place.

The wall panels are created by first constructing a mould from pieces of wood that are joined together. The dimensions of the mould determine the size of the wall panels and openings are left on the wall panels for doors and window installation. Once the mould construction is complete, concrete is poured in and left to cure.

The moulds are then removed and the concrete wall panels are tilted up and positioned in place on the foundation by a crane. The panels have embeds attached to them that secure the panel to the footing. Finishing is then applied to complete the structure. Tilt-up construction is relatively quick. Experienced contractors can erect as many as 30 panels in day.

Benefits of Engaging in Physical Education and Sport Activities

Engaging in natural health remedies such as physical education and sport activites are encouraged by health and nutrition experts today. The increasing number of health risks and conditions that are experienced by most people today, young or old, create concern about the impact of lifestyle and diet factors to increasing those risk factors. If you wanted to adapt a change in lifestyle, make sure to learn how you can incorporate those activities in your daily life and experience their benefits.

What is Physical Education?

Physical education is a form of instruction that focus on promoting activities that involve physical development and enhance an individual’s overall well being. This is one reason why physical education is an integral part in a school’s curriculum, especially for grade school to high school students. This is the time wherein the physical body is undergoing development and engaging in activities such as dance, sports, gymnastics, and calisthenics, among other PE classes are highly encouraged.

Aside from those physical activities, games can also become part of physical education and sport classes. The idea is to stimulate play behavior to develop physical fitness and skills. Although physical education has been largely associated with the modern society, it actually has a long history that dates back to the times of ancient Greece.

Teaching Physical Education

The ability for children to benefit from physical education and sport classes depend largely on the teaching methods employed. This is why PE teachers need a certain level of qualification before they are allowed to teach this subject. A baccalaureate degree is the most basic requirement for PE teachers and some could even have concentration studies in the area of human behavior and biology.

Aside from teaching physical education and sport in schools, there is also a large demand for PE instructors in other sectors. This is partly due to the recent surge in health and fitness awareness with the need to stay active being considered as one of the healthy yet natural alternatives to combating common diseases and health risks.

Sport Activities

Although sports is viewed today as a competitive activity, it can also be practiced for leisure and fitness purposes. There are various level of sports activities that one can engage in such as amateur, leisure, and professional sports.

Sports classes are also held in schools to encourage students to participate actively for physical stimulation. After all, sports is not only fun and competitive, but it also teaches one the importance of taking care of your body and well being in terms of physical self-discipline. There are several sports activities that one can choose from such that it is easier to commit yourself into this activity, depending on what you enjoy doing most. Some of the most popular sports today include basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, tennis, swimming, to name a few.

Benefits

To encourage your kids to engage in physical education and sport activities, here are some of the rewards for doing so:

• Depending on the type of sport, it can encourage social behaviors and improve one’s ability to work with a team.

• It boosts your endurance and fitness level such that you stay healthier for longer.

• It teaches one self-discipline to adapt a healthy lifestyle and take good care of one’s body.

• It promotes physical development and acquire essential physical skills.

Educational Videos & DVDs Still Play in All Classrooms

No matter where you turn, you can probably see that education isn’t quite what it used to be. Nearly every classroom you turn to seems jam-packed with the latest technology – web cams, computers with wireless modems, laptops and even video conferencing tools. OK, maybe not every classroom has every piece of equipment, but it would be a rare classroom that doesn’t have at least one computer to accompany the more “conservative” equipment such as a machine for playing educational videos (either a VCR or a DVD player) and audio equipment.

If you are serious about doing the right thing by your students and giving them the education that they need to take them into the workforce of the 21st century, then you will have to make sure you know how to use this classroom technology efficiently. However, if you have learned the techniques of using educational videos in your classroom, you will easily be able to adapt to using more modern techniques and tools.

Don’t overlook “old-fashioned” educational videos as part of your lesson. Whether you’re in a school that has all the gadgets and tools, and you’re well used to communicating with students and their parents via your own blog, or whether you’re in a school struggling for funding, you probably have access to a video or DVD player. And a video can be used creatively in a range of ways to enhance your lessons to provide variety and to capture the imaginations of your students. You don’t have to plug and play – in fact, you shouldn’t do this. This is about education, not entertainment.

But if you’ve mastered the use of the DVD player, you can easily use a number of newer tools to enhance your lessons.

Use short online video clips. Clips from YouTube can be used in place of a “normal” educational videos or DVD but with two advantages: Firstly, the clip is already in a short bite-sized form, saving you the hassle of hunting for the right segment on a longer DVD or video; secondly, students who have internet access at home or at an internet cafe can re-watch the clip to reinforce the lesson.

Use blogs, forae (plural of forum) and email newsletters to communicate with your students and with their parents. This can be a more reliable method of communication between home and school than slips of paper via Pupil Post, but you will have to ensure that all parents have access to the internet. Email communication is best used as a back-up to paper communication and phonecalls.

Math drill. Not all computer games are mindless! Often, computer games are the best way to drill children in times tables and other mathematics facts. Out-of-school tutors often use computer games to provide times tables drill, and students find this much more fun and rewarding than flash cards. Multiplication.com is one site with a wide range of fun games for learning times tables.

Online Education – Do You Want To Return To School?

In our rapidly changing global world, millions of students are currently taking college-level online (distance education) classes. Private and public universities in the United States and abroad are offering Certificate, Baccalaureate, Masters and Doctoral degree programs over the Internet to adult learners. From Ivy League to Community Colleges, an increasing number of students can log on to their classes from home, work or while commuting by bus and train. Adult learners frequently juggle a myriad of responsibilities including raising children, career, and care giving for senior parents. Formerly, a university of interest may have been out of reach geographically. Presently, an employee located in the United States can register for classes taught half way around the world. Non-traditional venues outside of the more traditional classroom offer viable opportunities for continuing one’s education.

Adult learners make up the largest demographic of post-secondary institutions in the United States. For this student group, the benefits of online academic programs are:

o To update current skill sets

o To learn new skill sets

o To earn an undergraduate or graduate level degree

o The fulfillment of academic requirements necessary for a current job or promotion

o To change careers

o The satisfaction of certification or licensure requirements

o Personal and spiritual growth and development

Not for the faint of heart, success in distance education academic programs requires high levels of stamina, discipline, and motivation. A good candidate must be computer literate, possess the ability to read massive amounts of material in short-time frames, have good writing and communication skills, hold high expectations for good grades, enjoy applying critical thinking and commit a minimum of 15 hours per week per course (be prepared to allocate more, if necessary).

The Internet and the World Wide Web provide the critical technology platform for distance education. University technological and operational infrastructures (including hardware, software and transmission) provide the additional cornerstones to the technology platform needed to execute distance education programs. The delivery of academic content may be accomplished in several formats. The more traditional venues are correspondence courses, videos, audio-cassettes, CD-ROMS, and broadcasts via television and radio. Modern formats include synchronous and/or asynchronous education content distribution channels. Synchronous delivery refers to real-time interaction between instructor and student i.e., two-way video-conferences, whiteboards, chat rooms, telephone software (ex. Skype), and mobile technology devices. Asynchronous interaction does not involve real time communication. Instead, interaction between instructor and student is accomplished through the use of e-mail, DVDs, and the traditional education delivery formats.

As a student, you will need a desktop or laptop computer, an Internet Service provider, a cell phone, software (i.e., word processor, financial spreadsheet, calendar and Power Point), a backup storage disk drive (nothing can make your heart drop faster than losing a body of work that you’ve diligently developed), a headset with microphone for virtual team discussions and the traditional school supplies. Optional technology may include memory upgrades, scanners, digital scanners, and fax machines.

Ten Tips For The Successful Online Student:

o Have a credit card or debit card ready for downloading e-books and other required course reading materials.

o Maintain a list of more than one bookstore in the event that a required textbook is sold out. It’s always a good idea to obtain a list of the required textbooks midway through the term and order in advance for the following term.

o Do not be shy about asking for help if needed. I cannot stress enough the importance of communicating openly with your professor or instructor about course material that you may not understand. Online academic programs tend to move rapidly and course content that you do not understand will most likely cause problems down the road resulting in frustration and possibly, lower grades.

o Seek out a tutor. If there are areas that you know need strengthening, even before the class begins, have a tutor on stand-by. Also, the telephone number of a computer specialist should be in your rolodex.

o Time management will be critical. Keep a planner. Read your syllabus as soon as it becomes available and plan accordingly.

o Uphold your responsibilities as a virtual team member. Your contributions will directly impact the team grade.

o Exercise. Long hours at the computer can cause strain on the neck, shoulder, arm and back muscles, not to mention the hands. Remember to periodically stretch and tone.

o Eat a healthy diet. Keep good healthy recipes handy. Hydrate. Avoid heavy snacking on calorie-laden food and instead eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Avoid white flour and choose high fiber grains.

o See your doctor. A healthy body feeds a healthy mind.

o Stay in contact with your Academic Advisor to be sure that you are satisfying the requirements needed to complete your degree.

In the Fall term of 2006, 3.5 million students representing 20% of all U.S. higher education students, took at least one online course (2007. The Sloan Consortium). It is projected that distance education will continue to grow in popularity domestically and internationally. The most commonly offered online academic programs are Business, Computer Science and Engineering, Education, Engineering, Library Science, Nursing, and Public Health. Whether you select a community college, public institution, private institution or Ivy League university, enjoy the learning experience.

© 2007-2008 Jeanna Foy-Stanley