Critical Self-Reflection

Summer Semester has ended, and COM150 along with it. But before it fully finishes, I need to make one final blog post detailing what I had learned over the course of the entire module.

At the beginning of the module, I detailed what I felt I understood about myself, my weaknesses, and where I can improve further on them. I also detailed what my objectives for the overall module were. For the most part, I acknowledged my biggest fault was my lack of tact and social awareness, and aimed to improve on that. My other objective was to gain a better understanding of human psychology and behavior.

Over the course of the past few months, I feel as though I’ve made significant progress towards these goals. From the various lessons, I’ve learned about various theories which have provided me with a greater understanding of both myself and others, and have subsequently taken active steps to improve myself. Emotional intelligence and management are the key, as from there, I had come to realize the biggest reason why I make bad initial impressions is because I get easily excited. This can be rather overbearing for some people. From both the lessons and our project work researching emotional management, I have come to a better understanding of how emotional expression affects the way people perceive each other. From that, I have also learned how to handle my own personal emotions, which will help stop me from acting out in future.

Regarding human psychology, I felt as if I had learned a lot from the module about it. Through topics such as how languages differ between cultures, non-verbal communications and what they imply, as well as learning how people perceive others, I feel as though I have gained a better understanding of how the human mind works. To me, this has made many parts of the module very interesting to study. I will also aim to apply what I have learned about human behavior into my interactions with others in future, so that I can gain a better understanding of people’s actions and what they imply.

Concerning the project, I think I’ve gained a better understanding of how to work with others. While public speaking, making scripts and handling presentations is nothing new to me, this is one of the first times I’ve done it with a team. And I must admit it has not been a pleasant experience. I’ve gotten so used to my regular standard of writing that I’d forgotten that most other people weren’t as good. I was in charge of script and speaking, so when I went to edit everyone’s scripts I was quite appalled to find they were either written purely in bullet point form, were filled with broken vocabulary/grammar, or lacked any sort of cohesion. It took an unexpected amount of effort to fix up many of my teammates scripts and ensure their speeches were well-coordinated. However, there are many things which I were unable to help with, such as the animation video. I lacked any skill with film making or videos in general, which left me completely helpless at doing anything for the video. I was unable to do anything for it at all, and instead had to rely completely on another one of my teammates for it.

What I learned from this experience with the project is the importance of working as a team. Ultimately, people come from different backgrounds and have a variety of skill sets, which means that some are naturally better at certain things than others. Working effectively as a team means identifying each other’s respective strengths and weaknesses, and delegating tasks in a fashion which takes advantage of these strengths while minimizing these weaknesses. The optimal idea is to have team members cover for one another, and have one carry out tasks which others cannot and vice-versa. If that is done, a team will perform at its best, since everyone is doing what they are most specialized in, minimizing the amount of inefficiency while maximizing the quality. As I was busy fixing scripts while another team mate worked on the animation, I was reminded of this, and realized why we had to group up in teams to tackle a research project like this.

Overall, these are what I have learned from the program, and are what I intend to take away. Not only have I obtained knowledge on human psychology/behavior, but I have also taken steps to implement this knowledge towards improving myself, ensuring I cause fewer misunderstandings and poor impressions in future. From the research project, I have also learned first-hand about the advantages and disadvantages in working in teams, as well as how to lead groups to obtain maximum effectiveness. By identifying each member’s skills, a leader can maximize his team by delegating work appropriately and having team members rely on each other. Doing so allows team members to specialize, resulting in high quality work. From these lessons, I hope to perform well in my future endeavors, both in a school and a workplace setting.

Written on: 13/8/2017

– Merville Sin

 

Project Plan

Introduction
For our COM150 Project, we have decided to focus on “Managing Emotions” as our topic of choice. We felt this was a crucial topic to investigate because emotions are a topic which everyone deals with on a regular basis, and many of us have had prior history with emotional outbursts which we later regret.

Within social and workplace contexts, we are constantly encountering a wide variety of situations. These situations tend to instigate reactions out of us, in the form of emotions. While they are an important factor in making quick reactions (e.g. fear is essential for self-preservation), emotions tend to have a strong tendency to pressure us into making immediate decisions, which isn’t always optimal.

We have also decided to examine how this theory of emotional management specifically applies to people serving National Service. During their time in the army, servicemen are often kept out of their comfort zone and are placed under physical, mental, and social stress. In these moments, they are more likely to lose control of their emotions and make mistakes. As a result, we would like to study the full impact of emotions on people’s reactions, to see how we can possibly ensure sound decision-making.

Problem Identification
Despite emotions being such a commonplace experience, they aren’t something which is easily controlled. Since none of us can fully control something as heavily volatile as emotions, nor can we outright prevent ourselves from feeling emotions either. Due to their nature of being difficult to control or predict, we intend to attempt to seek out alternative ways to keep ourselves from acting out based on these emotions instead.

For Servicemen, emotions become a big problem. Due to them being placed under a variety of stressful workplace and training conditions, servicemen tend to act on reflex when it comes to decision making. Since most people serving NS are relatively young (ages 18 – 22), they lack experience in dealing with problems, which means that their reflex decisions are rarely the ideal course of action. Depending on their role, servicemen are forced to hold varying amounts of responsibility. If emotions overwhelm a serviceman, they may make hasty mistakes which can carry wide-reaching consequences for those around them.

We aim to determine if there is an effective method of controlling one’s reactions to said emotions. To achieve this, we will research to determine if there is any effective way to limit our responses to emotions instead.

Objective of Study
Our aim is to study the emotions experienced by people who serve their National Service, to determine what sort of emotions they face on a regular basis and what sort of pressures influence their decision making.

From there, we can utilize our understanding of Communication theories to devise a strategy that would better allow servicemen to keep their emotions under check and prevent them from influencing decisions.


Data Collection/ Research Method
To achieve our goals, we have prepared two separate lines of research. For our primary research, we aim to obtain real life data on people who have lost emotional control. Problem is, emotions are not something which can be quantified, meaning we need to conduct a qualitative form of research. We have decided a survey may be the best course of action, to determine how and when people may have had made rash decisions in the past due to getting emotional which they now regret.

The secondary source of research we will conduct is based on research papers and other educational sources published on the internet. “Controlling one’s emotions” is a popular topic, and while we are certain to find relevant information there, it isn’t quite what we need. Our topic is simply “Managing” said emotions instead, which means we need to search out advice which helps people decide how they act on said emotions and prevent themselves from going overboard. We will also intend to check for information pertaining to psychological analyses of emotions.

Potential Solution / Implementation for Problem Solution (Briefly)
Our proposed solution involves the theories of the Six-Second Rule and Interpersonal Conflicts. We conclude that people’s emotions are generally in a “neutral” state by default, and it is in this state where they have clear heads and are able to make sound decisions. Interpersonal Conflicts are the core factors which instigate an emotional response, and we propose that the best way to manage one’s emotions is to simply bring one’s emotions back into the “neutral state”. This is a process which will generally happen over time, so the ideal course of action would be to disengage from the conflict for a certain period of time until one calms down, which subsequently allows them to resolve said conflict more appropriately.

However, there ARE some times where one needs to do work despite being under emotional stress, either due to time constraints or other reasons. To manage one’s volatile emotions in this state, the ideal way to handle things is to slow down, and decide on your responses very carefully to minimize saying any things which are out of control. To structure one’s responses, the use of the Freedman’s Six-Second Rule as a framework is very useful. Freedman’s framework of “Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Give Yourself” (Freedman. J, 2010) is crucial as a way to organize your thoughts and ensure one doesn’t lose control.

“Knowing Yourself” is important to understand one’s current emotional state, and by gaining an idea of how one would act, one can subsequently attempt to prevent these actions. “Choosing Yourself” is based around one’s thoughts, and is the reason why slowing oneself down is so important. By taking a few moments, one is able to process one’s thoughts better, and determine which ideas are a result of emotions and which stem from logic. From there, one can decide on the best course of action. “Giving Yourself” is based around acting out on these decisions towards others around you, and since they have been carefully decided upon, they will be less likely to create problems.

By slowing down one’s actions and carefully thinking with such a framework, servicemen will be able to make relatively sound decisions even while under pressure, by using the Six-Seconds Rule to distance one’s thoughts from one’s emotions instead. If one skips the process, they will most likely end up acting in whatever fashion comes to mind, which gives a greater chance of doing something very detrimental and is unlikely to properly resolve a conflict.

Concluding Thoughts
Emotions are inherently unstable. That must is certain. But while suppressing or controlling them is difficult, unhealthy and unreliable, we are still able to prevent them from causing havoc by managing our responses to them. The best way to do so is removing the emotional flux. By distancing oneself from the problem and returning later, one gives themselves time to calm down, ensuring they can act with a clear head. Alternatively, by slowing oneself down, one can gradually organize their thoughts using the Six-Second rule to minimize problems. This allows one to distance their thoughts from their emotions, allowing them to work relatively free of emotional influences and minimizing rash decisions.

Resources
(Freedman. J, 2010), “The Six Seconds EQ Model”. Retrieved from: http://www.6seconds.org/2010/01/27/the-six-seconds-eq-model/

 

Edited on 27/7/17, Wednesday.

– Merville Sin

Post 2- Interpersonal Conflict Resolution

This post is a thought exercise. The following is a hypothetical scenario, fabricated out my past experiences in regards to working with others. This is a classic problem, created out of clashing schedules and personalities.

In many environments, people often have to work in teams with people they don’t necessarily get along with. This typically happens in schools, since people there are often thrust into teams against their wills by teachers or circumstance. In these cases, teams lacking strong leadership and planning will often struggle more than others, since their members will frequently enter conflict with one another.

The scenario features a group project, comprised of four members. Tom, Dick, Harry, and yourself.

Tom is an open-minded individual. He is more or less an average student, who performs decently at all his subjects but doesn’t excel at any particular field. He is perceptive and often notices things that others overlook, allowing him to make helpful observations or contribute useful ideas, making him a very useful member despite his otherwise average performance. However, he is also very reserved and has self-esteem issues, resulting in him not always speaking up and causing him to be drowned out by more energetic students.

Dick is a team member with a rather laid-back attitude towards his work. He typically approaches others with a friendly and casual demeanor, and isn’t the kind of person to usually worry about assignment deadlines until they’re due. Despite (or perhaps because of) his preference to seek out shortcuts, he does prove himself quite capable in a pinch and performs well in his studies, and he has shown signs of brilliance in his work every now and then. However, his work and schedule are quite disorganized and he has a bad habit of showing up late for meetings, making him troublesome to work with.

Harry is the third member of your team. He is a person who takes great pride in his work and always tries to give his best. His attitude towards others is quite formal and strict, making him difficult to interact with, but his efficient and industrious nature makes him a very helpful asset to your team. He is always reliable in his work, updates his fellow team mates very regularly, and attends every meeting without fail. However, he has a great preference for doing things “by the book” and is otherwise quite inflexible. He also tends to be quite demanding and often insists on his ideas, even if they aren’t always the best, making him a bit overbearing.

You are appointed as leader of this dysfunctional team, and are tasked to coordinate them to both research and prepare a presentation on an assigned literature topic. One day, you come into a meeting after class, only to be met with Dick and Harry busy arguing with each other while Tom is quietly attempting to avoid being noticed. You are aware that the two have been having rather conflicting views towards both each other and the research material, as Harry prefers cross-referencing other sources online and views Dick as “unreliable”, while Dick prefers to draw his own conclusions and considers Harry to be a “boring stick in the mud”. Tom’s opinions tend to be overshadowed by the pair’s opposing ideals.

The ongoing chaos has been getting on your nerves for the past few weeks. Considering that you have only just walked into this argument and are completely unaware of what they are even fighting about, how would you attempt to resolve this interpersonal conflict and regain proper control over your team?

There’s no specific right answer to this, so it should be interesting to see how people analyze this problem.


Now, for the solution. As always, the first step involved in solving any problem is to procure information. According to the article written by counseling website DRB Alternatives Inc., “it is important to reduce the emotional charge from the situation so that you and the other person can deal with your differences on a rational level-” (Bellafiore D., n.d). This means that the first step that must be taken is to calm down both Dick and Harry, and attempt to identify the source of their problem.

Once that has been done, the next step is to try resolving the immediate problem they are facing. Considering they probably got upset over something relatively minor, this can be handled easily. However, this latest outburst is merely a symptom of the underlying issue, which stems from their contrasting personalities. The only way to resolve this issue permanently is to solve Dick and Harry’s dispute at its source.

Knowledge of the Thomas and Kilmann’s five styles of dealing with conflict tells us the problem (CRANAplus, October 2011). At the core of it, Dick and Harry simply do not get along due to their personalities. Both of them have “Competitive” reactions towards conflict, while Tom demonstrates an “Avoiding” reaction towards conflict. This means the two will maintain hard stances and be determined to do things their own way, which in turn drowns out Tom from contributing due to him preferring to avoid conflicts instead.

“Rarely is an aggressive approach likely to be a long term solution, as those who
have been forced into submission are likely to be resentful.” (CRANAplus, October 2011)
Having two aggressive people with clashing personalities together is a guaranteed recipe for disaster, since neither side will be willing to stand down. Knowing this, the best way to change this is to have them achieve a compromise, and try to find a middle ground that they can agree on. Thus, the best long-term solution to this conflict is to have Dick and Harry air out their respective grievances with one another in a calm, peaceful fashion, and attempt to have both parties find a point of compromise. Perhaps Harry will request Dick to show up to meetings on times, and Dick will agree if Harry acts less pushy.
If peace between Dick and Harry can be achieved, then it is likely that Tom will also gradually come out of his shell and contribute more as well. If he is no longer being intimidated by Dick and Harry’s dominating presences, he will be more encouraged to vocalize his ideas.
All of this can only work if you yourself are a stable enough adjudicator of course. Brokering a truce between two conflicting parties is not an easy affair, but it is a doable one, and it is the solution I believe will produce the greatest long-term gains.
– Merville Sin

Edited on Sunday, 9/7/17


References
(Bellafiore D., n.d), Retreived from: http://www.drbalternatives.com/articles/cc2.html

(CRANAplus, October 2011), Retrieved from: https://crana.org.au/uploads/pdfs/Other_44.pdf

 

First Post (edited)

Right… first time ever using a blog for anything. I doubt anyone will read this, but that’s probably be for the best. This blog is set up only for the sake of a university module based around Interpersonal Workplace Communications, and nothing more. This first post will be about two things: reflecting upon my strengths/weaknesses in communication, and my personal goals for the course.

Now, what can I call a personal “strength” regarding communication? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is a strong mastery of the English language. Having an idea is ultimately meaningless if you have no way to properly relay it, and the most effective way to communicate an idea to another person is through the same language. Without a common language, people will have a difficult time getting across the simplest of messages, as any tourist can relate with. English serves as the lingua franca of most of the professional world, being used in assorted workplaces and countries as a medium of communication. Without an extensive grasp of the language, one will find difficulty in presenting their ideas to groups and colleagues. While language competency doesn’t guarantee successful communication, it is certainly a crucial factor which facilitates and eases the process. My JC background and prior experience as a debater has left me with a strong command over English, and I find very few situations where I struggle to string a coherent sentence together. As a result, I have no problems in speaking to crowds, practicing speeches and quickly recovering from mistakes. These all help me better convey my ideas and communicate with others, leaving me to conclude that my ability to utilize English is my greatest strength in communication.

My biggest problem is probably my lack of tact and social awareness. Many friends describe my attitude as “blunt” and “critical”, meaning that I have a strong tendency to give my honest opinion on subjects and often address problems directly. While my closer friends tend to appreciate the straightforward attitude, it does cause issues when working with others since people may find it aggressive or confrontational. This means I tend to end up getting into problematic situations that could be easily avoided, or otherwise present a poor first impression. After attending some classes, I have concluded most of these issues stem from my action and content-oriented listening style, causing me to rush straight for the heart of the matter without regard for the emotional state of people around me.

Identifying those problems is important, as they relate to my two objectives for this module: I wish to better reign in my character to be a bit more subdued, and I also wish to better understand human psychology through studying communication. I hope to achieve the former using the course material, gradually correcting my character to become more mindful of others. As for the latter, the course will teach us to observe how people behave, such as via non-verbal communications or vocal tone, and this information can subsequently be applied to many other fields. I believe that learning about the intricacies of human communication can help me as a game designer in future, in whatever workplace I eventually end up in.

-Edits made on Wednesday, 31/5/2017. Edits in underline-

First Post – COM150 Objectives

Right… first time ever using a blog for anything. I doubt anyone will ever read this, but given the circumstances, it’d probably be for the best. This blog is something set up only for the sake of a university module based around Interpersonal Workplace Communications, and nothing more. Okay, first post. It’ll be based on two things: a reflection on my strengths/weaknesses in communication, and my personal goals for the course.

Now, what can I properly call a personal “strength” when it comes to communication? Well, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is a strong mastery of the English language. Having an idea is ultimately meaningless if you have no way to properly relay it, and the most effective way to pass the idea to another person is through communicating in the same language. English serves as the lingua franca of most of the professional world, being used in assorted workplaces and countries as a medium of communication. Without an extensive grasp of the language, one will find themselves having difficulty with presenting their ideas to groups and colleagues. My JC background and prior experience as a debater has left me with a strong command over English, which leaves me with very few situations where I struggle to string a coherent sentence together. As a result, I find myself with no problems in speaking to crowds, practicing speeches and quickly recovering from mistakes. These all help me better convey my ideas and communicate with others, leaving me to conclude that my ability to utilize English is my greatest strength in communication.

As for my biggest problem, is probably due to my lack of tact or social awareness. Many friends describe my attitude as “blunt” and “critical”, meaning that I have a strong tendency to give my honest opinion on subjects and often address problems directly.  Some people often describe it as “overbearing” at some points. While my closer friends tend to appreciate the straightforward attitude, it does cause some issues when working with others since people may find it confrontational. This means I tend to end up getting into problematic situations that could be easily avoided, or otherwise present a poor first impression.

I have two objectives to get from this module: I wish to better reign in my character to be a bit more subdued, and I also wish to better understand human psychology through studying communication. The latter is of great interest, since observing how humans behave around one another is an interesting study, whose information can subsequently be applied to many other fields. I believe that learning about the intricacies of human communication can help me as a game designer in future, since I may gain a better understanding of how social interaction works among consumers.