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SOFT SKILLS
AT THE END OF THIS LESSON, STUDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE APPROPRIATE
KNOWLEDGE, AND SHOW AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE FOLLOWING:
 COMMUNICATION SKILLS
 NON – VERBAL SKILLS AT WORKPLACE
 LISTENING SKILLS
 GIVING AND RECEIVING INSTRUCTIONS
 PROVIDING FEEDBACK AT WORKPLACE
 MEETING AT WORKPLACE
 ADAPTING TO DIFFERENCES
 PROBLEM SOLVING & DECISION MAKING
 PROFESSIONAL ETIQUETTES
 TIME MANAGEMENT
 TEAM WORK
11.1 COMMUNICATION
SKILLS Definition
Communication is the act of being understood.
Communication is a process, which involves sharing of information between people through a continuous
activity of speaking listening, and understanding.
Or
It is the giving receiving, or exchange of information opinions or ideas by writings, verbally, non-verbally
visual means, or any combination of the three, so that the material communicated is completely
understood by everyone concerned.
Importance of communication
Many writers have identified the advantages of good communication:
1. Leads to personal effectiveness.
2. Helps to network with people.
3. Influences motivation for enhanced performance.
4. Builds better understanding between boss and subordinates.
5. Creates better interpersonal relations.
6. Increases listening ability.
The communication process
The word process indicates that it is an activity that is connected with a series of steps that are
deliberately undertaken to reach a goal. A communication process comprises the following elements:
What is involved in the communication process?
The steps involved in this process are:
1.Idea: Information exists in the mind of the sender (who is the source). This can be a concept, idea,
information, or feelings.
2.Encoding: The source initiates a message by encoding the idea (or a thought) in words or symbols and
sends it to a receiver. The message is the actual physical product from the source encoding. When we
speak, the speech is the message. When we write, the writing is the message. When we gesture, the
movements of our arms and the expressions of our faces are the message.
3.The Channel: In selecting an appropriate channel, the sender must assess the following factors, as the
situation demands:
 need for immediate transmission of message, (Fax instead of letter)
 need for immediate feedback, (Phone instead of fax)
 need for permanent record of the message, (Written rather than oral)
 degree of negotiation and persuasion required, (Personal meeting – face-to face)
 the destination of the message, and (Far flung area – letter only)
 the nature of the content of the message. (Has to be a contract –written)
In addition, the sender should take into consideration his/her skill in using each of the
alternative channels, as well as the receiver’s skill in using each of the channels.
Communication rarely takes place over only one channel; two or three even four channels are normally
used simultaneously.
1. Decoding: It is the act of understanding messages (words or symbols). This is known as Decoding. When
the sound waves are translated into ideas, we are taking them out of the code they are in, hence
decoding. Thus, listeners and readers are often regarded as Decoders.
During the transmitting of the message, two processes will be received by the receiver.
 Content and Context.
Content is the actual words or symbols of the message which is known as language – i.e. spoken and
written words combined into phrases that make grammatical and semantic (meaning) sense.
Context is the environment in which communication takes place. It can be formal or informal. The
circumstances surrounding the communication also make up the context.
2.Feedback: By two-way communication or feedback. This feedback will tell the sender that the receiver
understood the message, its level of importance, and what must be done with it.
3. So the feedback loop is the final link in the communication process. Feedback is the check on how
successful we have been, in transferring our messages as originally intended.
There are five main categories of feedback. They are listed in the order in which they occur most
frequently in daily conversations.
1. Evaluation: Making a judgment about the worth, goodness, or appropriateness of the sender's
statement.
2. Interpretation: Paraphrasing - attempting to explain what the sender's statement means.
3. Support: Attempting to assist or support the sender.
4. Probing: Attempting to gain additional information, continue the discussion, or clarify a point.
5. Understanding: Attempting to discover completely what the sender means by his/her statement.
Noise: The presence of noise can result in fairly significant problems in the communication process.
Unfortunately, communication is effected by noise, which is anything – whether in the sender, the
transmission, on the receiver – that hinders communication.
Barriers to communication
Some of the barriers to communication are:
 Over-communication:
 Conflicting Information:
 Language Differences:
 Prejudice
 Differing status
 Interest and attitude
 Prejudgment
Oral communication at workplace
It is the exchange of ideas or information by
spoken word.
Why many people prefer face-to- face communication
1. This medium provides people with ‘a total impression’ in a way that written communication or
telephone calls do not.
2. The medium permits instant feedback.
3. Allows non-verbal usage.
Factors affecting face-to-face communication
 Plan beforehand- have supporting notes and documents to hand.
 Explore opposing points of view look at the situation from the other point of view and have counter-
arguments ready if needed.
 Check out the location of the contact-
 It helps to be familiar with surroundings whether for a meeting or interview.
 Exclude interruptions and distractions- these prevent concentration.
 Consider the person or people you will be seeing – it pays to be well informed. Know what makes
people tick.
 Select a mode of speaking appropriate to the situation- being over-familiar and „chatty‟ or reserved
and formal may prove blocks to effective communication depending upon the context of the
dialogue.
 Check your appearance-dress signals what we represent, or how we wish to be accepted.
Tips on face-to-face communication
1.Mannerism: Avoid irritating unpleasant or discourteous mannerisms of speech, gesture or posture.
2.Thinking: Think before you speak – once a statement is uttered it may be difficult to retract.
3.Courtesy: The effective communicator is always courteous. Avoid: interrupting, contradicting, showing
off, loosing your temper, being condescending or showing boredom or impatience.
4.Timing: Choose the right moment to speak.
6. Listening: Failing to listen to someone is not only a grave discourtesy but also may result in your looking
silly or making a faux-pas.
5. Structuring: Structures points logically and express them in connected phrases and sentences.
7. Styling:Strive to ensure that the manner in which you speak is appropriate to the circumstances.
8. Reacting and contributing: Ensure you make some positive contribution to a dialogue.
11.2 NONVERBAL SKILLS AT WORKPLACE
Definition of non-verbal communication
o It is the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages.
o Non-verbal communication describes all intentional and unintentional messages that are not
written or spoken.
o Such messages can be communicated through gestures object communications speech and
written texts such as handwriting style spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emotions
The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said (Peter Drucker, 2009)
The popular aphorism “Actions speak louder than words” holds a great deal of meaning when it comes to
understanding the essence of non-verbal communication.
Characteristics of non-verbal communication
Nonverbal messages:
1. Convey feeling: up to 93% of emotional meaning is communicated non-verbally
2. Form relationships: Establish the nature of relationship
3. Express truth: nonverbal cues may leak feelings.
4. Contextual: Conveys relational information (emotions and feelings), depending on the
circumstances or context in which it occurs.
5. Culture Bound: Non-verbal cues and messages that work in one culture may not work in another.
Each culture provides it is members with a code of behavour that is acceptable in different
situations.
6. Gender bound.
Functions of non-verbal communication
Interaction of verbal and non-verbal communication
The total message contains the spoken words and the non-verbal communication. Non-verbal
communication adds meaning, modifies or changes the spoken words in six ways.
 Repeating: Using non-verbal messages to follow up and reiterate verbal messages.
 Substituting: Using non-verbal messages to replace verbal messages.
 Complementing: Non-verbal messages that enrich the meaning of verbal messages.
Regulating: Using non-verbal messages to control the interaction patterns of a conversation.
 Accenting: Emphasizing parts of verbal messages.
 Contradicting; When non-verbal messages are incongruent with verbal messages.
Categories of non-verbal communication 1. Kinesics
Body movement, gestures, posture facial expressions and eye contact fall within the broad field of non-
verbal study called Kinesics.
Body movements.
They are classified into five:
1. Emblems: They substitute for words. Emblems are body movements that have specific verbal
translations.
2. Illustrators: They accompany and literally illustrate verbal messages. They are aptly non-verbal
sketches or pictures that accent emphasize or reinforce words. They are usually intentional and are
often used in situations where the verbal code alone is unable to convey meaning accurately.
Illustrators make communication more vivid and help maintain your listeners attention.
3. Affect displays: They are facial expressions of emotion. Facial expressions communicate emotional
reactions to a message and generally mirror the intensity of people’s thoughts and feelings. These
can be more accurate cue to interpreting people’s emotions than the words they use.
4. Regulators: They control interaction, Regulators monitor maintain, or control the speaking of
another individual. Regulators are culture-bound: each culture develops its own rules for the
regulation of conversation.
5. Adaptors: They are unconscious movement of the body that originate from the nervous state of our
mind. They are non-verbal ways of adjusting to a communication situation.
Posture: Posture can be used to determine a participants degree of attention or involvement the
difference in status between communicators, and the level of fondness a person has for the other
communicators.
Gesture: A gesture is a non-vocal bodily movement intended to express meaning. They may be articulated
with the hands, arms or body.
Eye communication/occulesics
This is the science of the movement grammar of our eyes and of facial expressions.
Eye contact function
Eye contact serves several important functions:
 To monitor feedback.
 To maintain interest and attention visual dominance behaviour, increase of eye contact with the
hope that the person will increase attention.
 To signal a conversational turn. Eye communication can also serve to inform the other person that
the channel of communication is open and that she or he should now speak.
 To signal the nature of the relationship: Relationship can either be positive or negative, amorous,
hostile or indifferent.
 To compensate for physical distance.
Eye avoidance
 When you avoid eye contact or avert your glance, you allow others to maintain their privacy.
 It can also signal lack of interest in a person, a conversation, or some visual stimulus.
Eye grammar
 Staring eyes: Too much eye contact that either shows superiority or lack of interest a threatening
attitude or a wish to insult.
 Too little eye contact: it has multiple interpretations. The gesture indicates dishonesty, impoliteness
insincerity, and also shyness.
 Withdrawal of eye contact: This is considered as a sign of submission.
 Frequently looking away at people from a distance. This an extrovert’s behaviour, interested in
knowing reactions, or to influence or scrutinize
 Scarlely looking at a person when in close proximity. An introvert shows this kind of behaviour when
discussing intimate or difficult topics, or dislike for the other person.
Facial communication
“You can read his face like an open book” is a common remark made about people whose facial
expressions show a lot of transparency of expressions.
 Facial movements may communicate at least the following eight emotions.
 Happiness, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, contempt, and interest.
Touch/Haptics communication
Physical contact with others is the most basic form of communication and a lack of touch in certain
situations often communicates that there is a problem.
Touch may communicate five major meanings:
 Positive emotions e.g among people who have relatively close relationship (support, appreciation,
inclusion, sexual interest).
 Playfulness. Playful touch lightens an interaction.
 Touch controls the behaviors, attitudes or feelings of the other person.
 Touch demonstrates the male power and dominance over women.
 Ritualistic e.g. greetings and departures.
 Task related touch –This related with the performance of some function.
Whether or not you reach out to touch other people is often determined by:
11.3 IMPROVING LISTENING SKILLS AT
WORKPLACE
One of the most powerful tools for effective, two-way communication is active listening. We spend more
time listening than we spend at any other method of communicating.
Time spent listening
Type of communication
1. Speaking
2. Reading
3. Writing
4. Listening
What is listening?
Active listening is a skill you learn by practice. It takes more effort than plain „hearing‟ but the benefits
make it well worthwhile. Listening goes beyond hearing. Hearing is a physiological activity that occurs
when sound waves hit our eardrums. Listening is far more complex than hearing or otherwise,
Benefits of listening
1. You enjoy two-way benefits. When people notice how well you listen to them, they usually reciprocate
and try to understand you better.
2. Relationship within a group improves. Members develop a more positive attitude towards each other,
so personal support and teamwork is strengthened. Friendships develop and deepen.
3. You receive more accurate information. The more confident people are that you are listening to them,
the happier they will be to share facts they would not reveal to a poor listener.
4. Influence: have an effect on the attitude and behaviours of others, because people are more likely to
respect and follow those whom they feel have listened to and understand them.
5. Help: be able to assist people because you hear more, empathize more and come to understand
others more deeply.
6. Learn: You acquire knowledge of others the world and yourself and profit from the insights of others
who have learned or seen what you have not.
Listening process
Listening is an active process, which means we must exert effort to listen well. We must be involved with
our ears and minds, if we want to listen effectively.
1. Mindfulness
2. Physically receiving/hearing messages
The second process involved in listening is hearing, or physically receiving messages. Listening begins with
receiving the messages the speaker sends. The messages are both verbal and non-verbal.
In receiving try to:
1. Focus your attention on the speaker’s verbal and non-verbal messages, on what is said and on what is
not said.
2. Avoid distractions in the environment.
3. Focus your attention on the speaker rather than on what you will say next.
4. Maintain your role as listener and avoid interrupting.
3. Selecting and organizing material
We do not perceive everything around us. We selectively attend to only some messages and elements of
our environments. What we attend to depends on many factors including our interests, cognitive
structures and expectations. Selective listening is also influenced by culture. We attend selectively by
remembering that we are more likely to notice stimuli that are intense loud, unusual, or that otherwise
stand out from the flow of communication. This implies that we may overlook communicators who speak
quietly and do not call attention to themselves.
Once we have selected what to notice, we then organize the stimuli to which we have attended.
Understanding and interpreting
Understanding, the stage at which you learn what the speaker means includes the thoughts that are
expressed and the emotional tone that accompanies these thoughts.
In understanding, try to:
1. Relate the new information the speaker is giving to what you already know.
2. See the speaker’s message from the speaker’s point of view, avoid judging the message until you
fully understand it as the speaker intended it.
3. Ask questions for clarifications if necessary, ask for additional details or examples if they are
needed.
4. Rephrase (paraphrase) the speaker’s ideas in your own words.
To interpret someone on her or his own terms is one of the greatest gifts we can give another. Too, often
we impose our meanings on others, try to correct or argue with them about what they feel or crowd out
their words with our own. Good listeners stay out of others way so they can learn what others think and
feel.
Evaluating
Evaluating consists of judging the messages in some way. Evaluate the speaker’s underlying intentions or
motives. Often this evaluation process goes on without much conscious awareness.
In evaluating try to:
 Resist evaluation until you fully understand the speakers point of view.
 Assume that the speaker is a person of goodwill, and give the speaker the benefit of any doubt by
asking for clarification on position to which you feel you might object.
 Distinguish facts from inferences, opinions and personal interpretations by the speaker.
 Identify any biases, self-interests, or prejudices that may lead the speaker to slant unfairly what is
presented.
Responding
Responding occurs in two phrases:
 Responses you make while the speaker is talking.
 Responses you make after the speaker has stopped talking.
These responses are feedback. This information tells the speaker how you feel and what you think about
his or her messages.
In responding try to:
 Be supportive of the speaker throughout the speaker’s talk by using and varying your back-
channelling cues. Using only one back-changeling the for example saying “uh-huh” throughout –will
make it appear that you are not listening but are merely on automatic pilot.
 Express support for the speaker in your final response.
 Be honest.
 Own your responses, state your thought and feelings as your own, and use 1-messages.
Remembering
The final aspect of listening is remembering, which is the process of retaining what you have heard.
Messages that you receive understand and evaluate need to be retained for atleast some period of time.
We remember less than half of a message immediately after we hear it.
By being selective about what to remember we enhance out listening competence.
In remembering, try to:
a) Identify the central idea and major support advanced.
b) Repeat names and key concepts to yourself or, if appropriate aloud.
c) Summarize the message in a more easily retained form.
d) Listen with your „eyes‟.
e) Take notes
Barriers of effective listening
Barriers may come from the listeners themselves when a part of their own background interferes with
their perception of the speaker or of the spoken message. Barriers may also come from any of the
elements in the communication process.
External obstacles
Being aware of these barriers can help us guard against them or compensate for the noise they create.
1. Message overload
Naturally, we feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we are supposed to understand and retain.
These messages saturate our brains and we are unable to listen.
2. Message complexity
The more detailed and complicated the message, the more difficult it is to follow and retain.
3. Noise
Try minimizing physical noise, semantic and psychological noise.
4. Pre-occupation
When we are absorbed in our own thoughts and concerns, we cannot focus on what someone else is
saying. When we are preoccupied with out own thoughts, we are not fully present for others. We are not
being mindful. When our thoughts wonder occasionally, we should note that our focus has wondered and
actively call our minds back to the person who is speaking and the meaning of his or her message.
5. Prejudgment
Sometimes we think we already know what is going to be said, so we do not listen carefully. At other
times, we decide in advance that others have nothing to offer to us, so we tune them out. When we
prejudge others communication, we sacrifice learning new perspectives that might enlarge our thinking.
6. Reacting to emotionally loaded language
These are words that evoke responses, positive or negative. Certain words may summon up negative
feeling and images to you. Words like woman, house-wives etc, resonate so negatively with economically
empowered women.
Others include:
 Boredom or lack of interest.
 The listeners dislike of the personality or physical appearance of the speaker.
 A desire to change rather than accept the speaker.
 A perception by the listener that the speaker lacks credibility.
11.4 GIVING AND RECEIVING INSTRUCTIONS AT WORKPLACE
When instructions are unclear, people are unable to accomplish and their workplace activities to the
standard required. In order to do the job well, people need to understand how to do the job to achieve
the intended outcome.
Guidelines of giving instructions at work
 Determine what needs to be accomplished the intended outcome.
 Give the reasons for doing the job.
 Use concrete action words rather than abstract words.
 Have the other person paraphrase the instructions back to you.
 Demonstrate the skills in the task if your instructions involve machinery or equipment
 Encourage questions
 Ensure your timing is appropriate.
 Follow up as the person does the task on the job.
 Offer timely and specific feedback.
Sequence the content
As you prepare the instructions, sequence the material in one of the three ways:
1. Move from the simple to the complex.
2. Move from the familiar to the unfamiliar
3. Follow the order performed on the job.
Choose an appropriate time
When you give instructions, ensure the timing is right and the communication climate is positive. You not
only want to give the instructions. You also want to ensure that the people receiving the instructions are
able to:
a) Listen and understand
b) Say what they think and feel
c) Show that they are willing and able to follow the instructions.
Instructions given in a thoughtful, appropriate and controlled manner are more easily understood.
Questioning skills to use as you give instructions.
As you give instructions, you need to know how much of the information is being understood and the level
of understanding. Different types of questions let you know if the other person can:
a) Remember the facts.
b) Restate the information in their own words.
c) Apply the information to a new situation
Receive and follow instructions
 Listen carefully
 Focus on the person giving the instructions
 Avoid jumping to conclusions
 Ask questions about the standards to be reached.
 Paraphrase to check on your understand.
 Double-check any safety issues.
 Ask for help if you feel you do not understand or are unable to follow the instructions.
Questioning skills to use as you receive instructions
Be willing to ask questions and to share ideas and information. You need to follow instructions for
successful accomplishment of the tasks given.
Questioning skills
When receiving instructions, your questions should be;
 Brief and clear
 Focused on the work task
 General when you want an overview.
 Specific, when you are trying to understand particular facts or ideas.
 Rephrased, when the instructor does not understand your question.
As instructions are given and received issues should be dealt with assertively and cooperatively. People
who take time to listen to the instructions and ask questions are able to respond in order to achieve the
intended outcome.
11.5 PROVIDING FEEDBACK AT
WORKPLACE
Feedback is an essential part of successful interpersonal communication. It indicates how well the sender’s
message is being understood or has been understood by the recipient.
The importance of feedback cannot be overemphasized. Feedback makes communication a two-way
process, it indicates effective understanding or misunderstanding of the message, it stimulates further
communication and discussion.
Feedback can help or hinder your communication and the climate you create. In the workplace most
people communicate face-to-face with their lecturer, supervisors, and colleagues so the ability to provide
appropriate feedback can assist the development of effective working relationships and the productivity of
the business.
Types of feedback
Feedback can be classified in different ways. It can be:
 Verbal
 Positive
 Non-verbal
 Action
 Negative
 A combination of any of these
Encouraging feedback (the receiver’s part)
Do not wait to be asked for feedback volunteer it. Tell the sender what you think
You do understand as well as what you do not
Negative feedback
You can encourage negative feedback by making it clear that:
 You recognize it as vital if you are to know what is working properly and what is not.
 You do not become upset or angry towards those who are prepared to share negative messages with
you.
 You believe in fixing problems rather than blaming or punishing those who report them.
 Even when you are at fault, you value this kind of message more than cover-ups or false praise. o
You encourage and support others who accept negative/error feedback.
Naturally, a climate in which there is open discussion of errors mistakes and problems takes a little getting
used to, but workers soon become comfortable with it. It is an ideal foundation for positive problem
solving because:
 It promotes active thinking by looking more closely at problems rather than avoiding them.
 It makes it harder to hide‟ problems.
 Error feedback is more likely to be true and is probably more accurate than overly positive feedback.
Encouraging feedback as sender of message
 If you are talking, ask questions to see how much your listeners really understand.
 Give contacts.
 Encourage people to ask questions about your decisions
 Do not assume agreement or understanding
 Do not use expressions as “you cannot miss it,” they discourage feedback.
 Show that you welcome feedback of any kind, whether good news, bad news, action or process.
 Visit every section, unit branch, or department under your responsibility regularly. Seek feedback
from as many people as possible and from all levels.
False feedback
Not all feedback is an accurate representation of events or feelings. Some people will try to use it to
distort your vision of what is really going on. One obvious reason for doing this is to get the sender out of
trouble.
Reasons for giving false feedback
 To avoid blame-a team member might mislead management about his or her part in a problem.
 To keep people at a distance- a supervisor might give cold negative feedback to avoid being caught
up in a situation at work in which feelings are involved.
 To avoid unpleasant reality.
 To play down a problem so as to lessen other’s concern health officials might tell media
representatives that there is absolutely no danger‟ of an epidemic occurring, when they are not
really sure.
Be wary of exaggerated feedback.
Characteristics of effective and ineffective feedback
 Intention: Effective feedback is directed toward improving job performance and making the
employee a more valuable asset it is not a personal attack and should not compromise the
individual’s feeling of self-worth or image. Rather effective feedback is directed towards aspects of
the job.
 Specificity: Effective feedback is designed to provide recipients with specific information so that they
know what must be done to correct the situation. Ineffective feedback is general and leaves
questions in the recipients minds. For example, telling an employee that he or she is a poor worker.
 Description: Effective feedback is descriptive rather than evaluative. It tells the employee what he or
she has done in objective terms, rather than presenting value judgement.
 Usefulness: Effective feedback is information that an employee can use to improve performance. If it
is something that an employee cannot correct, it is not worth mentioning.
 Timeliness: Time feedback properly. The more immediate the feedback the better.
 Readiness: in order for feedback to be effective, employee must be ready to receive it. When
feedback is imposed or forced on employees it is much less effective.
 Clarity: Effective feedback must be clearly understood by the recipient.
 Validity: Effective feedback must be reliable and valid. When the information employee will feel that
the supervisor is unnecessarily biased or the employee may take corrective action that is
inappropriate and only compounds the problem.
11.6 MEETINGS AT
WORKPLACE
How to take part in meetings effectively
 Listen first- Each meeting develops its own climate. By listening and waiting, you will be able to
assess not only the general climate, but also the moods and attitudes of individuals. Test the
temperature first before diving in.
 See where the land lies most meetings tend to comprise sub-groups or causes allied to achieve
common objective.
 Timing: time when to speak, if you contribution is to be effective.
 Succinctness: keep your points short and simple use any previous arguments to support you opening
statement. Justify your points with generally appreciated examples and stress your main contention
when closing.
 Involving others: make reference to contributions of others if they are relevant to your point of view.
 Loss of face: one of the hurts which goes deepest and which people least forgive is when someone
makes them to „lose face‟ in the company of colleagues. Consideration for others and the ability to
construct “face-saving” formulate approaches and remarks is one of the most important skills which
those who take part in meetings need to acquire.
Integrity not obduracy
The mark of the mature person is that he or she has the strength of personality to defer to a superior
argument – graciously.
Courtesy
Bad habits in meetings are such as:
 Interrupting someone by „talking over them‟
 Exchanging winks or grins with a neighbor as a means of criticizing what is being said.
 Showing annoyance by switching off or sulking silently.
 Showing boredom by longing or doodling
 Loosing temper
 Belittling others when speaking
 monopolizing the proceedings by being long-winded
 Failing to show attention and then showing it.
Being ready for opposition views and standpoints and positions must therefore be critically examined and
the ground set for answering criticism.
Being informed: appearing misinformed or “behind” the times invalidates the force of any contribution.
7. ADAPTING TO DIFFERENCES: CULTURE AND GENDER
The factors that cause cross cultural and intercultural communication problems, owing to lack of
knowledge about the other culture are:
 Social customs
 Values and beliefs
 Names and titles
 Sense of time
 Social conduct
 Language/speech for communication
 Non-verbal communication
 Exchanging business cards
 Being ethnocentric
 Believing in the stereotypes.
 Life concerns
 Dress
 Rules of politeness. Who can speak to whom and who can begin a conversation
 Courtesies in speech such as when to say „please‟, „thank you‟ or „excuse me‟.
 Use of humour and irony.
Overcoming cultural barriers
Cultural sensitivity leads to better communication. Therefore, a global manager can overcome cultural
barriers and be an empathetic communicator by.
1. Knowing your own culture first-foreigners may ask you curious questions about social and cultural
norms as followed in your culture.
2. Take interest in other cultures e.g. pay attention to the non-verbal cues of other culture.
3. Avoid being ethnocentric and judgmental. At no cost must you make your business client feel that
your country’s culture is the best. Every culture is as good as the other.
4. Be a good observer and listener backed by right cognitive skills of other cultures, and keep unbiased
mind.
5. Practice flexibility in accepting a new way of looking at individuals –by doing this you will help
yourself in not stereotyping individuals.
6. Avoid derogatory labelling
7. Provide training
In the words of Robert Rosen “Beware, and be ready for a borderless economy in a multicultural world.
You will have to communicate deeply, sensitively and strategically.
8. PROBLEM SOLVING & DECISION MAKING
Definition of a Problem: A problem exists when there is a gap between what you expect to happen and
what actually happens.
 Problems must be resolved for organizations to function properly.
 Supervisors must be aware of current situations to recognize whether a problem exists.
Definition of Decision Making: Decision making is selecting a course of action from among available
alternatives.
 Process of analyzing critical data to determine the best decision.
 We do not always select the best choice when faced with alternatives.
 Need a rational, systematic, and effective approach for deciding on a course of action.
 Organization has limited resources (i.e., number of employees, time, money, etc.) and those limits
require managers and supervisors to make choices.
The Difference between Decision Making and Problem Solving
While both processes are systematic, problem solving involves defining a problem and creating solutions
for it. Decision making is selecting a course of action from among available alternatives. Problem solving
(Steps 1—4) always involves decision making (Step 3). However, not all decision making involves solving a
problem. For example, a supervisor may have to make decisions about employees, resources, workload,
etc. without having a problem to solve.
Steps in the problem solving process
Defining the problem
Diagnose a situation so that the focus is on the real problem, not just on its symptoms. Symptoms
become evident before the problem does.
 Separate fact from opinion and speculation
 Specify underlying causes
 State the problem explicitly
 Avoid stating the problem as disguised solution
 Identify what standard is violated by the problem
Selecting the right problems to define
If a problem-solver can handle 75% to 80% of the issues he or she faces using experience and current
knowledge, doing so allows the problem solver to address issues efficiently. Put another way, there is not
enough time nor energy to use a structured, time-consuming problem solving process to address each and
every problem faced over a working career.
 Efficiency in Step 1/Define the Problem means using the 4-step problem solving process on the right
problems in the first place.
 Two guidelines to help problem solvers “choose the right problems” to solve:
 Spend time calculating data and defining problems to avoid working to solve the wrong problem.
 Do not overspend resources on small scale problems.
Causes of Problems
Common categories of problem causes include:
Problem solvers need not limit themselves to these categories. There may be more or fewer categories,
depending on the work group.
Distinguishing between symptoms & causes of problems
A useful tool to help problem solvers distinguish between symptoms and causes of problems is using
the “5 Whys” with your work group.
Ask “5 Whys”:
The First Why
 Pick the symptom where you wish to start.
 Ask the first why: “Why is such-and-such taking place?”
 You will probably get 3 or 4 answers.
 Put the answers to the first why on some flip chart paper for all to see, with plenty of space
between them.
The Next Whys
 Repeat the process for every statement on the wall, asking why about each one.
 Record each answer near its parent (the “why” that it came from).
 Most likely, the answers will begin to converge—where 10 or 12 separate symptoms may be traced
back to the root cause.
 As the whys are traced back to their root causes, it may become clear that the problem is not just
a single event or a single person’s decision—it is larger than that and has been around for quite a
while.
 Avoid being distracted by blame-related answers—handle each answer by recording it and saying,
“OK, is that the only reason?”
To be most effective, the answers to the “5 Whys” must not blame individuals. No real change occurs
when blaming happens, and the root cause of the problem will still exist.
Factors to consider for problem solving & decision making
After accurately defining the problem, problem solvers should determine who should be involved in the
problem solving process. Problems solvers must decide how to decide. Even if the question never comes
up, a choice has still been made.
When determining who should be involved in the problem solving process, four situational factors should
be considered.
Situational factors
 Time – The problem-solver must determine if there is enough time to use the work group as
participants in the process.
 Information – Does the problem-solver have enough information to make a quality decision alone?
 Capability – Does the work group have the ability and willingness to be involved?
 Group Acceptance – Is the group’s acceptance of the decision critical to its implementation?
Create alternative solutions
Once a problem has been defined, the next step is to create
Solutions
 Generating possible solutions is a creative process.
 Good alternative solutions take into account both short and long-term issues.
 To effectively create solutions, postpone the process of selecting any one solution to the problem
until Step 3.
If more than one person is involved in solving a problem, alternatives can be proposed by all of those
involved. Using a group problem solving process usually takes more time, but identifying the larger variety
of ideas that a group can create may be worth the extra time. A common problem with generating
alternatives is the tendency to evaluate the alternatives as they are created. This tendency may lead to
selecting the first acceptable, though frequently not optimal, solution.
 Assure alternatives are consistent with work group goals.
 Have alternatives build on each other—modify, combine with, and “hitchhike” on other
alternatives.
Techniques to Create Alternatives
Problem solvers can use many approaches to create alternative solutions. The focus here is on two
techniques:
 Brainstorming
 Nominal grouping
Brainstorming
The sole purpose of brainstorming is creating ideas. When brainstorming, people often will mentally
evaluate the ideas being discussed, yet is it important not to evaluate them out loud during the
discussion.
Brainstorming creates a large number of ideas (high quantity) from which a few good solutions (high
quality) will emerge, leading to the desirable outcome of picking a solution in Step 3 that best solves the
problem.
Satisfactory and Optimal Decisions
Satisfactory approach
Once the decision maker finds an alternative that meets some minimum standards of acceptability, that
alternative is chosen and implemented, even if all of the alternatives have not been reviewed.
 Alternatives are evaluated only until one is found that is “satisfactory,” then it is implemented. This
means there are likely to be alternatives that do not get evaluated, since the process is finished
when one that is “good enough” is found. This process is usually faster, since the decision maker is
trading quality for speed on purpose. The risk is a lower quality decision that is less effective.
Optimal approach
 To achieve the best decision in a given situation, alternatives are identified and evaluated with
respect to decision criteria, and the best available alternative solution (the optimum one) that meets
those criteria is chosen.
 Critical data is analyzed, alternatives are identified, then each alternative is compared to the criteria.
 Choosing the optimum solution takes more time than the other approach (the satisfactory
approach), yet in the long run the quality and effectiveness of the decision is likely to be higher since
the decision maker is examining all of the available choices.
 This process is slower than the satisfactory approach, since the decision maker is trading a longer
amount of time in order to gain quality. The risk is a higher quality decision that is too late.
Decision Criteria
Most individual decision-making is done in a “semi-automatic” way, that is, without a lot of conscious
thought given to the standards and requirements that exist around an issue that will lead us to choose
one alternative over another. This is normal and necessary for a lot of individual decisions. It is also
often done in a work setting, where the decision-maker has to make many small or medium decisions
in a work day. The rapid pace and semi-conscious nature of such decision-making will probably not
benefit from a change toward some other decision-making approach.
When agency issues face us in a way that indicates a decision is going to involve many factors, a more
open and sturdy process is necessary. A process that involves discussing and writing criteria so all the
nec-essary information is out on the table — in writing — allowing for a free flow of information.
Sources of Decision Criteria
 Properly defined problem statement from Step 1.
 The experiences of the decision maker, good and bad.
 The policies, rules, regulations, goals, objectives, etc. of the agency and the work unit.
Characteristics of criteria
 Each criterion is a specific, measurable item.
 Criteria reflect expected end results.
 Includes consideration of factors that affect the decision, e.g., how likely is it that X will happen or
how much risk is there if we do X or do not do Y?
Written criteria are probably not necessary for most individual decisions and for small decisions with
few alter-natives and few separate characteristics of the alternatives. However, when decision-making
is part of 4-step problem solving, or is a standalone activity that will affect the work unit’s productivity,
employee morale, the work processes at work, or the budget, the decision criteria should be plainly
written, specific enough to measure, and done in writing.
Two categories of criteria: limits & desirables
Limits
 These criteria are requirements used to make an initial go/no-go decisions about alternatives.
Limits are used to make a first pass through the original list of alternatives.
 They must have clear, measurable statements of limitation, so that the elimination of
unsatisfactory alternatives is quick and relatively painless.
 There are specific boundaries and constraints necessary for making a successful choice.
 They are a form of protection for the decision maker because they restrict the decision to
alternatives that provide at least minimal success (i.e., failure to satisfy a limit makes an alternative
impossible to consider).
Desirables
The factors that are left over after the decision maker chooses the factors that are limits.
“Nice to have” instead of “need to have”
How to Begin Writing Decision Criteria
 List the general factors to be considered.
 Once this list is built, convert it to criteria by completing this phrase for each of the factors on the
list: “Whatever I (or we) choose should . . .”
Comparing alternatives
Process of Comparing Alternatives
 Organize the information about alternative solutions into a matrix to provide a comparison of the
in-formation about each alternative from Step 2 against the limits established in Step 3.
 Use a “go/no-go” approach when comparing each alternative’s information against the limits.
 If an alternative meets all of the limits then it is a “go” for further consideration. If not, it must be
discarded as an alternative (“no-go”).
 Use ranked desirables to finalize the decision if you have more than one alternative remaining
after comparing alternatives to the limits. Desirables are ranked #1, #2, #3, etc., and the decision is
made if one remaining alternative is better at desirable #1. If there is a tie, the comparison
continues using desirable #2, etc.
Setting up a matrix with the limits and desirables.
This method of comparing alternatives to criteria in a matrix allows you to use limits, and if necessary,
desirables. If you are only interested in a satisfactory solution then any alternative that survives the
limits criteria is satisfactory and Step 3 is over. However, if you are seeking an optimal solution, use the
desirables criteria to pick the best one.
Making an optimal decision
Make an optimal decision justified by the risk and relevance to criteria.
In this step the decision maker uses the matrix with limits created earlier as a go/no-go filter to exclude
any alternatives that do not meet the mandatory limits of the decision.
The Final Decision
When there is more than one alternative remaining after using the limits criteria, the decision maker uses
the desirables criteria and his/her best estimate of risk (if applicable) to determine the final ranking.
Implement the solution & follow up
Implementing a solution to a problem introduces change into the workplace. Since almost any change
creates some resistance, implementing a solution requires sensitivity to possible resistance from those
who will be affected by the solution. Supervisors who consider possible work group resistance in Step 1
will probably have less friction than those who wait until Step 4 to think about it.
Follow-up not only sustains implementation, but also serves as a way to get feedback and gain information
that can be used to improve future problem solving. Below are some guidelines for implementation:
 Implement solutions at the right time and in the right sequence.
 Provide opportunities for feedback on how well the solution is addressing the problem.
 Gain acceptance of the solution by those who are affected by the problem.
 Establish an ongoing monitoring system for the solution.
Evaluate success based on how well the solution solved the problem, not on some side benefits which may
have left the problem unsolved.
11.9 PROFESSIONAL ETIQUETTES
Personal Behaviour
Personal behaviour indicates that etiquette is something we acquire and practise as individuals. You learn
appropriate behaviour at home, how to speak to adults, how to eat in a proper manner and how to use a
telephone. This is further taught at school and as a young adult entering the business world, you knew
how to conduct yourself in a polite society.
We must take cultural and religious backgrounds into account when we discuss etiquette. Office
etiquette therefore has some standard rules, which can be learnt and practised on a daily basis.
Polite Society
Polite society is about order, about respect for others and about earning their respect in return. As
proper behaviour in your own community is important, so is it in the office, thus having mutual respect
for people who have different cultures and views.
Conventional Rules
The rules of office etiquette are unique to every organisation and it is important that you understand the
rules in your environment in order to succeed.
Questions you may ask include:
‘Whose rules of conduct do I follow?’
‘What is the appropriate behaviour?’
‘Will I be appropriately dressed?’
Those who have mastered the rules of etiquette will instinctively know the answers to these questions.
They might respond as follows;
“I will conduct myself according to the ‘conventional rules’ of my host, superior or the person to whom I
wish to show respect.”
The Elements of a Relationship
To begin, let’s look at six necessary elements to any positive relationship. Perhaps you can assemble a
more impressive, more complex list, but these comprise a core from which you can build any relationship.
Self-Respect
Mutual Respect
Compassion
Co-operation
Mutual Trust
Commitment
THESE INCLUDE:
• Communication styles
• Non-verbal communication
• Learning styles
• Boundaries
• Differing values
• Company culture
• Culture of the country
• Family cultures
Addressing Colleagues
How the person introduces themselves to you the first time you meet them is how you should address
them i.e. if they are formal, you remain formal, if they are more informal introducing themselves by their
first name then you need to mirror that. If, after a period of time, they change that, respect the change
and adapt to the new request e.g. “We will be working together for while please call me Susan.” Where
previously Susan introduced herself as “Dr. Doe”
 Call colleagues by their names - nicknames might be appropriate in a sports team but not in the
workplace.
 If a term of address off ends you, politely tell the person and give the name you prefer.
 To maintain professionalism, family members who work together should avoid using pet names and
nicknames and avoid discussing family issues at the office
 Never address anyone with words such as ‘honey, darling, love, dear or sweetheart’
Conversations at Work
You spend most of your life at work and therefore you will socially interact with your colleagues.
Take note of the following:
 Excessive social chit-chat, office gossip, politics and anything very personal should be avoided. “Say
nothing, then there is nothing!”
 Criticising or reprimanding someone in front of others is hurtful and shows insensitivity - rather call the
person aside and address any issues in private.
 Give praise where praise is due.
 Don’t discuss your personal aff airs at work, if your need help go to an appropriate professional like a
counsellor, doctor etc.
 Avoid sexist or racist jokes, especially in a large organisation with a diverse workforce.
 Avoid asking personal questions and do not feel obliged to answer personal questions.
 Don’t shout to get someone’s attention - it reflects laziness and disrespect for the person you are calling
and other around you.
 Don’t converse in front of others in a language they don’t understand - the official business language in
India is English or Hindi- use it.
 Make sure that anything shared with you in confidence whether work-related of personal stays that
way.
 Avoid losing your temper at work or becoming aggressive - it shows poor emotional intelligence and is
not professional.
Introductions
 Knowing the rules is critical because it will help you feel more relaxed and confident and make the
subsequent interaction with the other person or people much easier. When meeting someone for the
first time, expect three things: eye contact, a smile and a handshake.
 When making an introduction, remember, that in business age and gender play no role; rank and
authority do. If the two people being introduced are of similar seniority or importance, first introduce
the guest or visitor to the other person, and use their correct titles.
 The rule is that people of lesser authority are introduced to people with greater authority.
 Add minor background information to the introduction, as this is a good starting point of conversation
for the two people who have just met. When they start talking to one another, you can excuse yourself.
 No matter the seniority, status or gender, a person seated should always stand up when being
introduced.
 Although the person to whom one is being introduced usually extends their hand first, often both
parties will extend hands at the same time.
 If you are the host to a function, make sure you welcome all your guests personally. If it is a function of
high authority, the host will appoint a greeter. In this case the greeter has to introduce them self to
guests and then make sure that he or she makes the appropriate all round introductions
 When introducing someone to a group of male and female peers at work with no distinct seniority or
importance, make the introduction more general and informal, for example, “Hi team, I’ll like you to
meet…”
 After the introduction, say a few words about the person / people whom you have just introduced, and
try to say something of special interest about them.
Getting the names right:-
 Listen very carefully when being introduced and try to memorise the name of the person you’re being
introduced to. If a name is unfamiliar, politely ask the person to repeat it. Then try to form a memory
link by associating the name with an object or rhyme.
 Use the first available opportunity to use the person’s name in conversation.
 If someone introducing you mispronounces your name or gives you the wrong title, wait until the
introductions are over and say: “Jim is not the first person to have trouble pronouncing my name, it is
… (and give the correct one).” Or: “I am afraid Jim has given me a promotion (or demotion). Actually, I
am now … (and give your title)”.
 If you are the one making the introduction and you forget the name of the person you are introducing,
you can say something like “I remember our last meeting at the Hilton Hotel. Please tell me your name
again. I am having a memory lapse”.
 If you have been introduced to someone and you need to introduce them to a third party, and you have
a memory lapse, ask the person who introduced you to the person to do the introductions.
Handshakes:-
 Always shake hands with your right hand.
 A handshake should be brief, and accompanied by a smile. Look the person directly in the eye and use
words such as “how do you do?” and “pleased to meet you.”
 Remember that many African, Coloured, Malay and Indian people may prefer a soft grip.
 Do not squeeze another person’s hand as this may cause discomfort if one person is wearing sharp
jewellery.
 Some Malay, Muslim or Jewish people may not offer their hands due to religious beliefs, a smile and
nod is enough.
 Do not offer a wet or dirty hand.
 On formal business occasions and in public, it is inappropriate to kiss, hug or show any other form of
body contact greeting other than a handshake.
 First-name terms in the workplace are acceptable providing that you give due respect to superiors, in
terms of posture and body language.
Personal Body Space
 Even if you know the person well, avoid standing too close. You should be able to turn
 360°, and not have physical contact with your colleagues. When you are queuing in the canteen or
perhaps waiting in the foyer, the same rules apply. If a person enters your personal space, move one
step back and keep your legs slightly apart, creating more space around you. Be careful that you are not
too obvious with your gestures, as people might take offence. It is not polite to tell a colleague to move
back as they are in your personal space.
 On formal occasions, even a couple should avoid any physical contact.
10. TIME MANAGEMENT
Reasons why time management is so important
1. Time is limited: Everyone gets the same amount of time each day, and it's limited, therefore it's
important to make the most of your time if you ever want to be more than average at the workplace.
2. Accomplish more with less effort: By taking control of your time, you're able to stay focused on the
task at hand. This leads to higher efficiency since you never lose momentum. Imagine running a mile
where you stop every 5 seconds, this would cause you to become exhausted very quickly and take
much longer to complete the run.
3. Make better decisions: There are many choices in life and often-times we're faced with many choices
to choose from at the same time. When you practice good time management, you have more time to
breathe; this allows you to determine which choices are the best to make.
4. Be more successful: Time management is the key to success; it allows you to take control of your life
rather than follow the flow of others. You accomplish more, you make better decisions, and you work
more efficiently; this leads to a more successful life.
5. Learn more: When you control your time and work more efficiently, you're able to learn more and
increase your experience faster. There's a reason some students graduate earlier than others, so
imagine implementing time management throughout your entire career. You'll not only stand out from
the rest, but you'll gain experience must faster and be able to move up in life a lot sooner.
6. Reduce stress: One of the main causes of stress is due to people feeling rushed. The phrase "I have so
much to do and so little time to do it" is generally spoken with frustration which leads to stress. With
good time management, you know how much time you have, how long it will take to get your tasks
done, you accomplish more, and have more free time. This gives you more breathing room, which
reduces the feeling of being rushed, which in turn leads to less frustration and stress.
7. Higher quality work: We all need some free time to relax and unwind but, unfortunately, many of us
don't get much free time because we're too busy trying to keep up with our daily activities and work
load. By implementing time management skills, you are able to get more done in a shorter period of
time leading to more free time.
8. Creates discipline: When you practice good time management in your life, you are less likely to
procrastinate. Time management leads to higher productivity and leads to a disciplined life.
9. Creating a Positive Cycle with Time Management: Not only are there an abundance of reasons as to
why time management is important, but there is a multiplicative benefit of time management.
Implementing good time management allows you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time,
which leads to more free time, which leads to lower stress, which increases your attention span and
increases your work quality, which leads to more success. Each benefit of time management improves
another aspect of your life and it keeps going in a constant cycle. So why is time management
important? Well because, it makes you happier, more successful, live a fuller life, and live stress-free.
Practice the following techniques to become the master of your own time:
1. Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help
you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious
moments are going. You'll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time
is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
2. Any activity or conversation that's important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-
do lists get longer and longer to the point where they're unworkable. Appointment books work.
Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts,
conversations, and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these
appointments.
3. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations
that produce most of your results.
4. Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you're doing. Take, for
instance, the concept of having "office hours." Isn't "office hours" another way of saying "planned
interruptions?"
5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don't start your day until you complete your
time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help
you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Takefive
minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not,
what was missing? How do you put what's missing in your next call or activity?
7. Put up a "Do not disturb" sign when you absolutely have to get work done.
8. Practice not answering the phone just because it's ringing and e-mails just because they show up.
Disconnect instant messaging. Don't instantly give people your attention unless it's absolutely crucial
in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email
and return phone calls.
9. Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools
to generate business.
10.Remember that it's impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20
percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results.
11.11 TEAM WORK
If you want to be a Team Player
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: If you have a problem with someone in your group, talk to
him about it. Letting bad feelings brew will only make you sour and want to isolate yourself from the
group. Not only does it feel good to get it out, but it will be better for the team in the long run.
Don't Blame Others: People in your group lose respect for you if you're constantly blaming others for not
meeting deadlines. You're not fooling anyone, people know who isn't pulling his weight in a group.
Pointing the finger will only make you look cowardly. Group members understand if you have a heavy
workload and weren't able to meet a deadline. Saying something like, "I'm really sorry, but I'll get it to you
by the end of today." will earn you a lot more respect than trying to make it seem like it's everyone else's
fault that you missed your deadline.
Support Group Member's Ideas: If a teammate
suggests something, always consider it – even if it's the
silliest idea you've ever heard! Considering the group's
ideas shows you're interested in other people's ideas,
not just your own. And this makes you a good team
member. After all, nobody likes a know-it-all.
No Bragging: It's one thing to rejoice in your successes
with the group, but don't act like a superstar. Doing
this will make others regret your personal successes
and may create tension within the group. You don't
have to brag to let people know you've done a good
job, people will already know. Have faith that people
will recognize when good work is being done and that
they'll let you know how well you're doing. Your response? Something like "Thanks, that means a lot." is
enough.
Listen Actively: Look at the person who's speaking to you, nod, ask probing questions and acknowledge
what's said by paraphrasing points that have been made. If you're unclear about something that's been
said, ask for more information to clear up any confusion before moving on. Effective communication is a
vital part of any team, so the value of good listening skills shouldn't be underestimated.
Get Involved: Share suggestions, ideas, solutions and proposals with your team members. Take the time to
help your fellow teammates, no matter the request. You can guarantee there will be a time in the future
when you'll need some help or advice. And if you've helped them in past, they'll be more than happy to
lend a helping hand.

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Soft skills

  • 2. AT THE END OF THIS LESSON, STUDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE APPROPRIATE KNOWLEDGE, AND SHOW AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE FOLLOWING:  COMMUNICATION SKILLS  NON – VERBAL SKILLS AT WORKPLACE  LISTENING SKILLS  GIVING AND RECEIVING INSTRUCTIONS  PROVIDING FEEDBACK AT WORKPLACE  MEETING AT WORKPLACE  ADAPTING TO DIFFERENCES  PROBLEM SOLVING & DECISION MAKING  PROFESSIONAL ETIQUETTES  TIME MANAGEMENT  TEAM WORK
  • 3. 11.1 COMMUNICATION SKILLS Definition Communication is the act of being understood. Communication is a process, which involves sharing of information between people through a continuous activity of speaking listening, and understanding. Or It is the giving receiving, or exchange of information opinions or ideas by writings, verbally, non-verbally visual means, or any combination of the three, so that the material communicated is completely understood by everyone concerned. Importance of communication Many writers have identified the advantages of good communication: 1. Leads to personal effectiveness. 2. Helps to network with people. 3. Influences motivation for enhanced performance. 4. Builds better understanding between boss and subordinates. 5. Creates better interpersonal relations. 6. Increases listening ability.
  • 4. The communication process The word process indicates that it is an activity that is connected with a series of steps that are deliberately undertaken to reach a goal. A communication process comprises the following elements:
  • 5. What is involved in the communication process? The steps involved in this process are: 1.Idea: Information exists in the mind of the sender (who is the source). This can be a concept, idea, information, or feelings. 2.Encoding: The source initiates a message by encoding the idea (or a thought) in words or symbols and sends it to a receiver. The message is the actual physical product from the source encoding. When we speak, the speech is the message. When we write, the writing is the message. When we gesture, the movements of our arms and the expressions of our faces are the message. 3.The Channel: In selecting an appropriate channel, the sender must assess the following factors, as the situation demands:  need for immediate transmission of message, (Fax instead of letter)  need for immediate feedback, (Phone instead of fax)  need for permanent record of the message, (Written rather than oral)  degree of negotiation and persuasion required, (Personal meeting – face-to face)  the destination of the message, and (Far flung area – letter only)  the nature of the content of the message. (Has to be a contract –written) In addition, the sender should take into consideration his/her skill in using each of the alternative channels, as well as the receiver’s skill in using each of the channels. Communication rarely takes place over only one channel; two or three even four channels are normally used simultaneously. 1. Decoding: It is the act of understanding messages (words or symbols). This is known as Decoding. When the sound waves are translated into ideas, we are taking them out of the code they are in, hence decoding. Thus, listeners and readers are often regarded as Decoders.
  • 6. During the transmitting of the message, two processes will be received by the receiver.  Content and Context. Content is the actual words or symbols of the message which is known as language – i.e. spoken and written words combined into phrases that make grammatical and semantic (meaning) sense. Context is the environment in which communication takes place. It can be formal or informal. The circumstances surrounding the communication also make up the context. 2.Feedback: By two-way communication or feedback. This feedback will tell the sender that the receiver understood the message, its level of importance, and what must be done with it. 3. So the feedback loop is the final link in the communication process. Feedback is the check on how successful we have been, in transferring our messages as originally intended. There are five main categories of feedback. They are listed in the order in which they occur most frequently in daily conversations. 1. Evaluation: Making a judgment about the worth, goodness, or appropriateness of the sender's statement. 2. Interpretation: Paraphrasing - attempting to explain what the sender's statement means. 3. Support: Attempting to assist or support the sender. 4. Probing: Attempting to gain additional information, continue the discussion, or clarify a point. 5. Understanding: Attempting to discover completely what the sender means by his/her statement. Noise: The presence of noise can result in fairly significant problems in the communication process. Unfortunately, communication is effected by noise, which is anything – whether in the sender, the transmission, on the receiver – that hinders communication.
  • 7. Barriers to communication Some of the barriers to communication are:  Over-communication:  Conflicting Information:  Language Differences:  Prejudice  Differing status  Interest and attitude  Prejudgment Oral communication at workplace It is the exchange of ideas or information by spoken word.
  • 8. Why many people prefer face-to- face communication 1. This medium provides people with ‘a total impression’ in a way that written communication or telephone calls do not. 2. The medium permits instant feedback. 3. Allows non-verbal usage. Factors affecting face-to-face communication  Plan beforehand- have supporting notes and documents to hand.  Explore opposing points of view look at the situation from the other point of view and have counter- arguments ready if needed.  Check out the location of the contact-  It helps to be familiar with surroundings whether for a meeting or interview.  Exclude interruptions and distractions- these prevent concentration.  Consider the person or people you will be seeing – it pays to be well informed. Know what makes people tick.  Select a mode of speaking appropriate to the situation- being over-familiar and „chatty‟ or reserved and formal may prove blocks to effective communication depending upon the context of the dialogue.  Check your appearance-dress signals what we represent, or how we wish to be accepted.
  • 9. Tips on face-to-face communication 1.Mannerism: Avoid irritating unpleasant or discourteous mannerisms of speech, gesture or posture. 2.Thinking: Think before you speak – once a statement is uttered it may be difficult to retract. 3.Courtesy: The effective communicator is always courteous. Avoid: interrupting, contradicting, showing off, loosing your temper, being condescending or showing boredom or impatience. 4.Timing: Choose the right moment to speak. 6. Listening: Failing to listen to someone is not only a grave discourtesy but also may result in your looking silly or making a faux-pas. 5. Structuring: Structures points logically and express them in connected phrases and sentences. 7. Styling:Strive to ensure that the manner in which you speak is appropriate to the circumstances. 8. Reacting and contributing: Ensure you make some positive contribution to a dialogue. 11.2 NONVERBAL SKILLS AT WORKPLACE Definition of non-verbal communication o It is the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. o Non-verbal communication describes all intentional and unintentional messages that are not written or spoken. o Such messages can be communicated through gestures object communications speech and written texts such as handwriting style spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emotions
  • 10. The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said (Peter Drucker, 2009) The popular aphorism “Actions speak louder than words” holds a great deal of meaning when it comes to understanding the essence of non-verbal communication.
  • 11. Characteristics of non-verbal communication Nonverbal messages: 1. Convey feeling: up to 93% of emotional meaning is communicated non-verbally 2. Form relationships: Establish the nature of relationship 3. Express truth: nonverbal cues may leak feelings. 4. Contextual: Conveys relational information (emotions and feelings), depending on the circumstances or context in which it occurs. 5. Culture Bound: Non-verbal cues and messages that work in one culture may not work in another. Each culture provides it is members with a code of behavour that is acceptable in different situations. 6. Gender bound. Functions of non-verbal communication Interaction of verbal and non-verbal communication The total message contains the spoken words and the non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication adds meaning, modifies or changes the spoken words in six ways.  Repeating: Using non-verbal messages to follow up and reiterate verbal messages.  Substituting: Using non-verbal messages to replace verbal messages.  Complementing: Non-verbal messages that enrich the meaning of verbal messages. Regulating: Using non-verbal messages to control the interaction patterns of a conversation.  Accenting: Emphasizing parts of verbal messages.  Contradicting; When non-verbal messages are incongruent with verbal messages. Categories of non-verbal communication 1. Kinesics Body movement, gestures, posture facial expressions and eye contact fall within the broad field of non- verbal study called Kinesics.
  • 12. Body movements. They are classified into five: 1. Emblems: They substitute for words. Emblems are body movements that have specific verbal translations. 2. Illustrators: They accompany and literally illustrate verbal messages. They are aptly non-verbal sketches or pictures that accent emphasize or reinforce words. They are usually intentional and are often used in situations where the verbal code alone is unable to convey meaning accurately. Illustrators make communication more vivid and help maintain your listeners attention. 3. Affect displays: They are facial expressions of emotion. Facial expressions communicate emotional reactions to a message and generally mirror the intensity of people’s thoughts and feelings. These can be more accurate cue to interpreting people’s emotions than the words they use. 4. Regulators: They control interaction, Regulators monitor maintain, or control the speaking of another individual. Regulators are culture-bound: each culture develops its own rules for the regulation of conversation. 5. Adaptors: They are unconscious movement of the body that originate from the nervous state of our mind. They are non-verbal ways of adjusting to a communication situation. Posture: Posture can be used to determine a participants degree of attention or involvement the difference in status between communicators, and the level of fondness a person has for the other communicators. Gesture: A gesture is a non-vocal bodily movement intended to express meaning. They may be articulated with the hands, arms or body. Eye communication/occulesics This is the science of the movement grammar of our eyes and of facial expressions.
  • 13. Eye contact function Eye contact serves several important functions:  To monitor feedback.  To maintain interest and attention visual dominance behaviour, increase of eye contact with the hope that the person will increase attention.  To signal a conversational turn. Eye communication can also serve to inform the other person that the channel of communication is open and that she or he should now speak.  To signal the nature of the relationship: Relationship can either be positive or negative, amorous, hostile or indifferent.  To compensate for physical distance. Eye avoidance  When you avoid eye contact or avert your glance, you allow others to maintain their privacy.  It can also signal lack of interest in a person, a conversation, or some visual stimulus. Eye grammar  Staring eyes: Too much eye contact that either shows superiority or lack of interest a threatening attitude or a wish to insult.  Too little eye contact: it has multiple interpretations. The gesture indicates dishonesty, impoliteness insincerity, and also shyness.  Withdrawal of eye contact: This is considered as a sign of submission.  Frequently looking away at people from a distance. This an extrovert’s behaviour, interested in knowing reactions, or to influence or scrutinize  Scarlely looking at a person when in close proximity. An introvert shows this kind of behaviour when discussing intimate or difficult topics, or dislike for the other person.
  • 14. Facial communication “You can read his face like an open book” is a common remark made about people whose facial expressions show a lot of transparency of expressions.  Facial movements may communicate at least the following eight emotions.  Happiness, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, contempt, and interest. Touch/Haptics communication Physical contact with others is the most basic form of communication and a lack of touch in certain situations often communicates that there is a problem. Touch may communicate five major meanings:  Positive emotions e.g among people who have relatively close relationship (support, appreciation, inclusion, sexual interest).  Playfulness. Playful touch lightens an interaction.  Touch controls the behaviors, attitudes or feelings of the other person.  Touch demonstrates the male power and dominance over women.  Ritualistic e.g. greetings and departures.  Task related touch –This related with the performance of some function. Whether or not you reach out to touch other people is often determined by:
  • 15. 11.3 IMPROVING LISTENING SKILLS AT WORKPLACE One of the most powerful tools for effective, two-way communication is active listening. We spend more time listening than we spend at any other method of communicating.
  • 16. Time spent listening Type of communication 1. Speaking 2. Reading 3. Writing 4. Listening What is listening? Active listening is a skill you learn by practice. It takes more effort than plain „hearing‟ but the benefits make it well worthwhile. Listening goes beyond hearing. Hearing is a physiological activity that occurs when sound waves hit our eardrums. Listening is far more complex than hearing or otherwise, Benefits of listening 1. You enjoy two-way benefits. When people notice how well you listen to them, they usually reciprocate and try to understand you better. 2. Relationship within a group improves. Members develop a more positive attitude towards each other, so personal support and teamwork is strengthened. Friendships develop and deepen. 3. You receive more accurate information. The more confident people are that you are listening to them, the happier they will be to share facts they would not reveal to a poor listener. 4. Influence: have an effect on the attitude and behaviours of others, because people are more likely to respect and follow those whom they feel have listened to and understand them. 5. Help: be able to assist people because you hear more, empathize more and come to understand others more deeply. 6. Learn: You acquire knowledge of others the world and yourself and profit from the insights of others who have learned or seen what you have not.
  • 17. Listening process Listening is an active process, which means we must exert effort to listen well. We must be involved with our ears and minds, if we want to listen effectively. 1. Mindfulness 2. Physically receiving/hearing messages The second process involved in listening is hearing, or physically receiving messages. Listening begins with receiving the messages the speaker sends. The messages are both verbal and non-verbal. In receiving try to: 1. Focus your attention on the speaker’s verbal and non-verbal messages, on what is said and on what is not said. 2. Avoid distractions in the environment. 3. Focus your attention on the speaker rather than on what you will say next. 4. Maintain your role as listener and avoid interrupting. 3. Selecting and organizing material We do not perceive everything around us. We selectively attend to only some messages and elements of our environments. What we attend to depends on many factors including our interests, cognitive structures and expectations. Selective listening is also influenced by culture. We attend selectively by remembering that we are more likely to notice stimuli that are intense loud, unusual, or that otherwise stand out from the flow of communication. This implies that we may overlook communicators who speak quietly and do not call attention to themselves. Once we have selected what to notice, we then organize the stimuli to which we have attended.
  • 18. Understanding and interpreting Understanding, the stage at which you learn what the speaker means includes the thoughts that are expressed and the emotional tone that accompanies these thoughts. In understanding, try to: 1. Relate the new information the speaker is giving to what you already know. 2. See the speaker’s message from the speaker’s point of view, avoid judging the message until you fully understand it as the speaker intended it. 3. Ask questions for clarifications if necessary, ask for additional details or examples if they are needed. 4. Rephrase (paraphrase) the speaker’s ideas in your own words. To interpret someone on her or his own terms is one of the greatest gifts we can give another. Too, often we impose our meanings on others, try to correct or argue with them about what they feel or crowd out their words with our own. Good listeners stay out of others way so they can learn what others think and feel. Evaluating Evaluating consists of judging the messages in some way. Evaluate the speaker’s underlying intentions or motives. Often this evaluation process goes on without much conscious awareness. In evaluating try to:  Resist evaluation until you fully understand the speakers point of view.  Assume that the speaker is a person of goodwill, and give the speaker the benefit of any doubt by asking for clarification on position to which you feel you might object.  Distinguish facts from inferences, opinions and personal interpretations by the speaker.  Identify any biases, self-interests, or prejudices that may lead the speaker to slant unfairly what is presented.
  • 19. Responding Responding occurs in two phrases:  Responses you make while the speaker is talking.  Responses you make after the speaker has stopped talking. These responses are feedback. This information tells the speaker how you feel and what you think about his or her messages. In responding try to:  Be supportive of the speaker throughout the speaker’s talk by using and varying your back- channelling cues. Using only one back-changeling the for example saying “uh-huh” throughout –will make it appear that you are not listening but are merely on automatic pilot.  Express support for the speaker in your final response.  Be honest.  Own your responses, state your thought and feelings as your own, and use 1-messages. Remembering The final aspect of listening is remembering, which is the process of retaining what you have heard. Messages that you receive understand and evaluate need to be retained for atleast some period of time. We remember less than half of a message immediately after we hear it. By being selective about what to remember we enhance out listening competence. In remembering, try to: a) Identify the central idea and major support advanced. b) Repeat names and key concepts to yourself or, if appropriate aloud. c) Summarize the message in a more easily retained form. d) Listen with your „eyes‟. e) Take notes
  • 20. Barriers of effective listening Barriers may come from the listeners themselves when a part of their own background interferes with their perception of the speaker or of the spoken message. Barriers may also come from any of the elements in the communication process. External obstacles Being aware of these barriers can help us guard against them or compensate for the noise they create. 1. Message overload Naturally, we feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we are supposed to understand and retain. These messages saturate our brains and we are unable to listen. 2. Message complexity The more detailed and complicated the message, the more difficult it is to follow and retain. 3. Noise Try minimizing physical noise, semantic and psychological noise. 4. Pre-occupation When we are absorbed in our own thoughts and concerns, we cannot focus on what someone else is saying. When we are preoccupied with out own thoughts, we are not fully present for others. We are not being mindful. When our thoughts wonder occasionally, we should note that our focus has wondered and actively call our minds back to the person who is speaking and the meaning of his or her message. 5. Prejudgment Sometimes we think we already know what is going to be said, so we do not listen carefully. At other times, we decide in advance that others have nothing to offer to us, so we tune them out. When we prejudge others communication, we sacrifice learning new perspectives that might enlarge our thinking. 6. Reacting to emotionally loaded language These are words that evoke responses, positive or negative. Certain words may summon up negative feeling and images to you. Words like woman, house-wives etc, resonate so negatively with economically empowered women.
  • 21. Others include:  Boredom or lack of interest.  The listeners dislike of the personality or physical appearance of the speaker.  A desire to change rather than accept the speaker.  A perception by the listener that the speaker lacks credibility. 11.4 GIVING AND RECEIVING INSTRUCTIONS AT WORKPLACE When instructions are unclear, people are unable to accomplish and their workplace activities to the standard required. In order to do the job well, people need to understand how to do the job to achieve the intended outcome.
  • 22. Guidelines of giving instructions at work  Determine what needs to be accomplished the intended outcome.  Give the reasons for doing the job.  Use concrete action words rather than abstract words.  Have the other person paraphrase the instructions back to you.  Demonstrate the skills in the task if your instructions involve machinery or equipment  Encourage questions  Ensure your timing is appropriate.  Follow up as the person does the task on the job.  Offer timely and specific feedback. Sequence the content As you prepare the instructions, sequence the material in one of the three ways: 1. Move from the simple to the complex. 2. Move from the familiar to the unfamiliar 3. Follow the order performed on the job. Choose an appropriate time When you give instructions, ensure the timing is right and the communication climate is positive. You not only want to give the instructions. You also want to ensure that the people receiving the instructions are able to: a) Listen and understand b) Say what they think and feel c) Show that they are willing and able to follow the instructions. Instructions given in a thoughtful, appropriate and controlled manner are more easily understood.
  • 23. Questioning skills to use as you give instructions. As you give instructions, you need to know how much of the information is being understood and the level of understanding. Different types of questions let you know if the other person can: a) Remember the facts. b) Restate the information in their own words. c) Apply the information to a new situation Receive and follow instructions  Listen carefully  Focus on the person giving the instructions  Avoid jumping to conclusions  Ask questions about the standards to be reached.  Paraphrase to check on your understand.  Double-check any safety issues.  Ask for help if you feel you do not understand or are unable to follow the instructions. Questioning skills to use as you receive instructions Be willing to ask questions and to share ideas and information. You need to follow instructions for successful accomplishment of the tasks given. Questioning skills When receiving instructions, your questions should be;  Brief and clear  Focused on the work task  General when you want an overview.  Specific, when you are trying to understand particular facts or ideas.  Rephrased, when the instructor does not understand your question. As instructions are given and received issues should be dealt with assertively and cooperatively. People who take time to listen to the instructions and ask questions are able to respond in order to achieve the intended outcome.
  • 24. 11.5 PROVIDING FEEDBACK AT WORKPLACE Feedback is an essential part of successful interpersonal communication. It indicates how well the sender’s message is being understood or has been understood by the recipient. The importance of feedback cannot be overemphasized. Feedback makes communication a two-way process, it indicates effective understanding or misunderstanding of the message, it stimulates further communication and discussion. Feedback can help or hinder your communication and the climate you create. In the workplace most people communicate face-to-face with their lecturer, supervisors, and colleagues so the ability to provide appropriate feedback can assist the development of effective working relationships and the productivity of the business.
  • 25. Types of feedback Feedback can be classified in different ways. It can be:  Verbal  Positive  Non-verbal  Action  Negative  A combination of any of these Encouraging feedback (the receiver’s part) Do not wait to be asked for feedback volunteer it. Tell the sender what you think You do understand as well as what you do not Negative feedback You can encourage negative feedback by making it clear that:  You recognize it as vital if you are to know what is working properly and what is not.  You do not become upset or angry towards those who are prepared to share negative messages with you.  You believe in fixing problems rather than blaming or punishing those who report them.  Even when you are at fault, you value this kind of message more than cover-ups or false praise. o You encourage and support others who accept negative/error feedback. Naturally, a climate in which there is open discussion of errors mistakes and problems takes a little getting used to, but workers soon become comfortable with it. It is an ideal foundation for positive problem solving because:  It promotes active thinking by looking more closely at problems rather than avoiding them.  It makes it harder to hide‟ problems.  Error feedback is more likely to be true and is probably more accurate than overly positive feedback.
  • 26. Encouraging feedback as sender of message  If you are talking, ask questions to see how much your listeners really understand.  Give contacts.  Encourage people to ask questions about your decisions  Do not assume agreement or understanding  Do not use expressions as “you cannot miss it,” they discourage feedback.  Show that you welcome feedback of any kind, whether good news, bad news, action or process.  Visit every section, unit branch, or department under your responsibility regularly. Seek feedback from as many people as possible and from all levels. False feedback Not all feedback is an accurate representation of events or feelings. Some people will try to use it to distort your vision of what is really going on. One obvious reason for doing this is to get the sender out of trouble. Reasons for giving false feedback  To avoid blame-a team member might mislead management about his or her part in a problem.  To keep people at a distance- a supervisor might give cold negative feedback to avoid being caught up in a situation at work in which feelings are involved.  To avoid unpleasant reality.  To play down a problem so as to lessen other’s concern health officials might tell media representatives that there is absolutely no danger‟ of an epidemic occurring, when they are not really sure. Be wary of exaggerated feedback.
  • 27. Characteristics of effective and ineffective feedback  Intention: Effective feedback is directed toward improving job performance and making the employee a more valuable asset it is not a personal attack and should not compromise the individual’s feeling of self-worth or image. Rather effective feedback is directed towards aspects of the job.  Specificity: Effective feedback is designed to provide recipients with specific information so that they know what must be done to correct the situation. Ineffective feedback is general and leaves questions in the recipients minds. For example, telling an employee that he or she is a poor worker.  Description: Effective feedback is descriptive rather than evaluative. It tells the employee what he or she has done in objective terms, rather than presenting value judgement.  Usefulness: Effective feedback is information that an employee can use to improve performance. If it is something that an employee cannot correct, it is not worth mentioning.  Timeliness: Time feedback properly. The more immediate the feedback the better.  Readiness: in order for feedback to be effective, employee must be ready to receive it. When feedback is imposed or forced on employees it is much less effective.  Clarity: Effective feedback must be clearly understood by the recipient.  Validity: Effective feedback must be reliable and valid. When the information employee will feel that the supervisor is unnecessarily biased or the employee may take corrective action that is inappropriate and only compounds the problem.
  • 28. 11.6 MEETINGS AT WORKPLACE How to take part in meetings effectively  Listen first- Each meeting develops its own climate. By listening and waiting, you will be able to assess not only the general climate, but also the moods and attitudes of individuals. Test the temperature first before diving in.  See where the land lies most meetings tend to comprise sub-groups or causes allied to achieve common objective.  Timing: time when to speak, if you contribution is to be effective.  Succinctness: keep your points short and simple use any previous arguments to support you opening statement. Justify your points with generally appreciated examples and stress your main contention when closing.  Involving others: make reference to contributions of others if they are relevant to your point of view.
  • 29.  Loss of face: one of the hurts which goes deepest and which people least forgive is when someone makes them to „lose face‟ in the company of colleagues. Consideration for others and the ability to construct “face-saving” formulate approaches and remarks is one of the most important skills which those who take part in meetings need to acquire. Integrity not obduracy The mark of the mature person is that he or she has the strength of personality to defer to a superior argument – graciously. Courtesy Bad habits in meetings are such as:  Interrupting someone by „talking over them‟  Exchanging winks or grins with a neighbor as a means of criticizing what is being said.  Showing annoyance by switching off or sulking silently.  Showing boredom by longing or doodling  Loosing temper  Belittling others when speaking  monopolizing the proceedings by being long-winded  Failing to show attention and then showing it. Being ready for opposition views and standpoints and positions must therefore be critically examined and the ground set for answering criticism. Being informed: appearing misinformed or “behind” the times invalidates the force of any contribution.
  • 30. 7. ADAPTING TO DIFFERENCES: CULTURE AND GENDER The factors that cause cross cultural and intercultural communication problems, owing to lack of knowledge about the other culture are:  Social customs  Values and beliefs  Names and titles  Sense of time  Social conduct  Language/speech for communication  Non-verbal communication  Exchanging business cards  Being ethnocentric  Believing in the stereotypes.  Life concerns  Dress  Rules of politeness. Who can speak to whom and who can begin a conversation  Courtesies in speech such as when to say „please‟, „thank you‟ or „excuse me‟.  Use of humour and irony.
  • 31. Overcoming cultural barriers Cultural sensitivity leads to better communication. Therefore, a global manager can overcome cultural barriers and be an empathetic communicator by. 1. Knowing your own culture first-foreigners may ask you curious questions about social and cultural norms as followed in your culture. 2. Take interest in other cultures e.g. pay attention to the non-verbal cues of other culture. 3. Avoid being ethnocentric and judgmental. At no cost must you make your business client feel that your country’s culture is the best. Every culture is as good as the other. 4. Be a good observer and listener backed by right cognitive skills of other cultures, and keep unbiased mind. 5. Practice flexibility in accepting a new way of looking at individuals –by doing this you will help yourself in not stereotyping individuals. 6. Avoid derogatory labelling 7. Provide training In the words of Robert Rosen “Beware, and be ready for a borderless economy in a multicultural world. You will have to communicate deeply, sensitively and strategically. 8. PROBLEM SOLVING & DECISION MAKING Definition of a Problem: A problem exists when there is a gap between what you expect to happen and what actually happens.  Problems must be resolved for organizations to function properly.  Supervisors must be aware of current situations to recognize whether a problem exists.
  • 32. Definition of Decision Making: Decision making is selecting a course of action from among available alternatives.  Process of analyzing critical data to determine the best decision.  We do not always select the best choice when faced with alternatives.  Need a rational, systematic, and effective approach for deciding on a course of action.  Organization has limited resources (i.e., number of employees, time, money, etc.) and those limits require managers and supervisors to make choices. The Difference between Decision Making and Problem Solving While both processes are systematic, problem solving involves defining a problem and creating solutions for it. Decision making is selecting a course of action from among available alternatives. Problem solving (Steps 1—4) always involves decision making (Step 3). However, not all decision making involves solving a problem. For example, a supervisor may have to make decisions about employees, resources, workload, etc. without having a problem to solve.
  • 33. Steps in the problem solving process
  • 34. Defining the problem Diagnose a situation so that the focus is on the real problem, not just on its symptoms. Symptoms become evident before the problem does.  Separate fact from opinion and speculation  Specify underlying causes  State the problem explicitly  Avoid stating the problem as disguised solution  Identify what standard is violated by the problem Selecting the right problems to define If a problem-solver can handle 75% to 80% of the issues he or she faces using experience and current knowledge, doing so allows the problem solver to address issues efficiently. Put another way, there is not enough time nor energy to use a structured, time-consuming problem solving process to address each and every problem faced over a working career.  Efficiency in Step 1/Define the Problem means using the 4-step problem solving process on the right problems in the first place.  Two guidelines to help problem solvers “choose the right problems” to solve:  Spend time calculating data and defining problems to avoid working to solve the wrong problem.  Do not overspend resources on small scale problems.
  • 35. Causes of Problems Common categories of problem causes include: Problem solvers need not limit themselves to these categories. There may be more or fewer categories, depending on the work group. Distinguishing between symptoms & causes of problems A useful tool to help problem solvers distinguish between symptoms and causes of problems is using the “5 Whys” with your work group.
  • 36. Ask “5 Whys”: The First Why  Pick the symptom where you wish to start.  Ask the first why: “Why is such-and-such taking place?”  You will probably get 3 or 4 answers.  Put the answers to the first why on some flip chart paper for all to see, with plenty of space between them. The Next Whys  Repeat the process for every statement on the wall, asking why about each one.  Record each answer near its parent (the “why” that it came from).  Most likely, the answers will begin to converge—where 10 or 12 separate symptoms may be traced back to the root cause.  As the whys are traced back to their root causes, it may become clear that the problem is not just a single event or a single person’s decision—it is larger than that and has been around for quite a while.  Avoid being distracted by blame-related answers—handle each answer by recording it and saying, “OK, is that the only reason?” To be most effective, the answers to the “5 Whys” must not blame individuals. No real change occurs when blaming happens, and the root cause of the problem will still exist.
  • 37. Factors to consider for problem solving & decision making After accurately defining the problem, problem solvers should determine who should be involved in the problem solving process. Problems solvers must decide how to decide. Even if the question never comes up, a choice has still been made. When determining who should be involved in the problem solving process, four situational factors should be considered. Situational factors  Time – The problem-solver must determine if there is enough time to use the work group as participants in the process.  Information – Does the problem-solver have enough information to make a quality decision alone?  Capability – Does the work group have the ability and willingness to be involved?  Group Acceptance – Is the group’s acceptance of the decision critical to its implementation? Create alternative solutions Once a problem has been defined, the next step is to create Solutions  Generating possible solutions is a creative process.  Good alternative solutions take into account both short and long-term issues.  To effectively create solutions, postpone the process of selecting any one solution to the problem until Step 3.
  • 38. If more than one person is involved in solving a problem, alternatives can be proposed by all of those involved. Using a group problem solving process usually takes more time, but identifying the larger variety of ideas that a group can create may be worth the extra time. A common problem with generating alternatives is the tendency to evaluate the alternatives as they are created. This tendency may lead to selecting the first acceptable, though frequently not optimal, solution.  Assure alternatives are consistent with work group goals.  Have alternatives build on each other—modify, combine with, and “hitchhike” on other alternatives. Techniques to Create Alternatives Problem solvers can use many approaches to create alternative solutions. The focus here is on two techniques:  Brainstorming  Nominal grouping
  • 39. Brainstorming The sole purpose of brainstorming is creating ideas. When brainstorming, people often will mentally evaluate the ideas being discussed, yet is it important not to evaluate them out loud during the discussion. Brainstorming creates a large number of ideas (high quantity) from which a few good solutions (high quality) will emerge, leading to the desirable outcome of picking a solution in Step 3 that best solves the problem.
  • 40. Satisfactory and Optimal Decisions Satisfactory approach Once the decision maker finds an alternative that meets some minimum standards of acceptability, that alternative is chosen and implemented, even if all of the alternatives have not been reviewed.  Alternatives are evaluated only until one is found that is “satisfactory,” then it is implemented. This means there are likely to be alternatives that do not get evaluated, since the process is finished when one that is “good enough” is found. This process is usually faster, since the decision maker is trading quality for speed on purpose. The risk is a lower quality decision that is less effective. Optimal approach  To achieve the best decision in a given situation, alternatives are identified and evaluated with respect to decision criteria, and the best available alternative solution (the optimum one) that meets those criteria is chosen.  Critical data is analyzed, alternatives are identified, then each alternative is compared to the criteria.  Choosing the optimum solution takes more time than the other approach (the satisfactory approach), yet in the long run the quality and effectiveness of the decision is likely to be higher since the decision maker is examining all of the available choices.  This process is slower than the satisfactory approach, since the decision maker is trading a longer amount of time in order to gain quality. The risk is a higher quality decision that is too late.
  • 41. Decision Criteria Most individual decision-making is done in a “semi-automatic” way, that is, without a lot of conscious thought given to the standards and requirements that exist around an issue that will lead us to choose one alternative over another. This is normal and necessary for a lot of individual decisions. It is also often done in a work setting, where the decision-maker has to make many small or medium decisions in a work day. The rapid pace and semi-conscious nature of such decision-making will probably not benefit from a change toward some other decision-making approach. When agency issues face us in a way that indicates a decision is going to involve many factors, a more open and sturdy process is necessary. A process that involves discussing and writing criteria so all the nec-essary information is out on the table — in writing — allowing for a free flow of information. Sources of Decision Criteria  Properly defined problem statement from Step 1.  The experiences of the decision maker, good and bad.  The policies, rules, regulations, goals, objectives, etc. of the agency and the work unit. Characteristics of criteria  Each criterion is a specific, measurable item.  Criteria reflect expected end results.  Includes consideration of factors that affect the decision, e.g., how likely is it that X will happen or how much risk is there if we do X or do not do Y?
  • 42. Written criteria are probably not necessary for most individual decisions and for small decisions with few alter-natives and few separate characteristics of the alternatives. However, when decision-making is part of 4-step problem solving, or is a standalone activity that will affect the work unit’s productivity, employee morale, the work processes at work, or the budget, the decision criteria should be plainly written, specific enough to measure, and done in writing. Two categories of criteria: limits & desirables Limits  These criteria are requirements used to make an initial go/no-go decisions about alternatives. Limits are used to make a first pass through the original list of alternatives.  They must have clear, measurable statements of limitation, so that the elimination of unsatisfactory alternatives is quick and relatively painless.  There are specific boundaries and constraints necessary for making a successful choice.  They are a form of protection for the decision maker because they restrict the decision to alternatives that provide at least minimal success (i.e., failure to satisfy a limit makes an alternative impossible to consider). Desirables The factors that are left over after the decision maker chooses the factors that are limits. “Nice to have” instead of “need to have” How to Begin Writing Decision Criteria  List the general factors to be considered.  Once this list is built, convert it to criteria by completing this phrase for each of the factors on the list: “Whatever I (or we) choose should . . .”
  • 43. Comparing alternatives Process of Comparing Alternatives  Organize the information about alternative solutions into a matrix to provide a comparison of the in-formation about each alternative from Step 2 against the limits established in Step 3.  Use a “go/no-go” approach when comparing each alternative’s information against the limits.  If an alternative meets all of the limits then it is a “go” for further consideration. If not, it must be discarded as an alternative (“no-go”).  Use ranked desirables to finalize the decision if you have more than one alternative remaining after comparing alternatives to the limits. Desirables are ranked #1, #2, #3, etc., and the decision is made if one remaining alternative is better at desirable #1. If there is a tie, the comparison continues using desirable #2, etc. Setting up a matrix with the limits and desirables. This method of comparing alternatives to criteria in a matrix allows you to use limits, and if necessary, desirables. If you are only interested in a satisfactory solution then any alternative that survives the limits criteria is satisfactory and Step 3 is over. However, if you are seeking an optimal solution, use the desirables criteria to pick the best one. Making an optimal decision Make an optimal decision justified by the risk and relevance to criteria. In this step the decision maker uses the matrix with limits created earlier as a go/no-go filter to exclude any alternatives that do not meet the mandatory limits of the decision.
  • 44. The Final Decision When there is more than one alternative remaining after using the limits criteria, the decision maker uses the desirables criteria and his/her best estimate of risk (if applicable) to determine the final ranking. Implement the solution & follow up Implementing a solution to a problem introduces change into the workplace. Since almost any change creates some resistance, implementing a solution requires sensitivity to possible resistance from those who will be affected by the solution. Supervisors who consider possible work group resistance in Step 1 will probably have less friction than those who wait until Step 4 to think about it. Follow-up not only sustains implementation, but also serves as a way to get feedback and gain information that can be used to improve future problem solving. Below are some guidelines for implementation:  Implement solutions at the right time and in the right sequence.  Provide opportunities for feedback on how well the solution is addressing the problem.  Gain acceptance of the solution by those who are affected by the problem.  Establish an ongoing monitoring system for the solution. Evaluate success based on how well the solution solved the problem, not on some side benefits which may have left the problem unsolved.
  • 45. 11.9 PROFESSIONAL ETIQUETTES Personal Behaviour Personal behaviour indicates that etiquette is something we acquire and practise as individuals. You learn appropriate behaviour at home, how to speak to adults, how to eat in a proper manner and how to use a telephone. This is further taught at school and as a young adult entering the business world, you knew how to conduct yourself in a polite society. We must take cultural and religious backgrounds into account when we discuss etiquette. Office etiquette therefore has some standard rules, which can be learnt and practised on a daily basis. Polite Society Polite society is about order, about respect for others and about earning their respect in return. As proper behaviour in your own community is important, so is it in the office, thus having mutual respect for people who have different cultures and views. Conventional Rules The rules of office etiquette are unique to every organisation and it is important that you understand the rules in your environment in order to succeed. Questions you may ask include: ‘Whose rules of conduct do I follow?’ ‘What is the appropriate behaviour?’ ‘Will I be appropriately dressed?’ Those who have mastered the rules of etiquette will instinctively know the answers to these questions. They might respond as follows; “I will conduct myself according to the ‘conventional rules’ of my host, superior or the person to whom I wish to show respect.”
  • 46. The Elements of a Relationship To begin, let’s look at six necessary elements to any positive relationship. Perhaps you can assemble a more impressive, more complex list, but these comprise a core from which you can build any relationship. Self-Respect Mutual Respect Compassion Co-operation Mutual Trust Commitment THESE INCLUDE: • Communication styles • Non-verbal communication • Learning styles • Boundaries • Differing values • Company culture • Culture of the country • Family cultures
  • 47. Addressing Colleagues How the person introduces themselves to you the first time you meet them is how you should address them i.e. if they are formal, you remain formal, if they are more informal introducing themselves by their first name then you need to mirror that. If, after a period of time, they change that, respect the change and adapt to the new request e.g. “We will be working together for while please call me Susan.” Where previously Susan introduced herself as “Dr. Doe”  Call colleagues by their names - nicknames might be appropriate in a sports team but not in the workplace.  If a term of address off ends you, politely tell the person and give the name you prefer.  To maintain professionalism, family members who work together should avoid using pet names and nicknames and avoid discussing family issues at the office  Never address anyone with words such as ‘honey, darling, love, dear or sweetheart’ Conversations at Work You spend most of your life at work and therefore you will socially interact with your colleagues. Take note of the following:  Excessive social chit-chat, office gossip, politics and anything very personal should be avoided. “Say nothing, then there is nothing!”  Criticising or reprimanding someone in front of others is hurtful and shows insensitivity - rather call the person aside and address any issues in private.  Give praise where praise is due.  Don’t discuss your personal aff airs at work, if your need help go to an appropriate professional like a counsellor, doctor etc.  Avoid sexist or racist jokes, especially in a large organisation with a diverse workforce.  Avoid asking personal questions and do not feel obliged to answer personal questions.
  • 48.  Don’t shout to get someone’s attention - it reflects laziness and disrespect for the person you are calling and other around you.  Don’t converse in front of others in a language they don’t understand - the official business language in India is English or Hindi- use it.  Make sure that anything shared with you in confidence whether work-related of personal stays that way.  Avoid losing your temper at work or becoming aggressive - it shows poor emotional intelligence and is not professional. Introductions  Knowing the rules is critical because it will help you feel more relaxed and confident and make the subsequent interaction with the other person or people much easier. When meeting someone for the first time, expect three things: eye contact, a smile and a handshake.  When making an introduction, remember, that in business age and gender play no role; rank and authority do. If the two people being introduced are of similar seniority or importance, first introduce the guest or visitor to the other person, and use their correct titles.  The rule is that people of lesser authority are introduced to people with greater authority.  Add minor background information to the introduction, as this is a good starting point of conversation for the two people who have just met. When they start talking to one another, you can excuse yourself.  No matter the seniority, status or gender, a person seated should always stand up when being introduced.  Although the person to whom one is being introduced usually extends their hand first, often both parties will extend hands at the same time.
  • 49.  If you are the host to a function, make sure you welcome all your guests personally. If it is a function of high authority, the host will appoint a greeter. In this case the greeter has to introduce them self to guests and then make sure that he or she makes the appropriate all round introductions  When introducing someone to a group of male and female peers at work with no distinct seniority or importance, make the introduction more general and informal, for example, “Hi team, I’ll like you to meet…”  After the introduction, say a few words about the person / people whom you have just introduced, and try to say something of special interest about them. Getting the names right:-  Listen very carefully when being introduced and try to memorise the name of the person you’re being introduced to. If a name is unfamiliar, politely ask the person to repeat it. Then try to form a memory link by associating the name with an object or rhyme.  Use the first available opportunity to use the person’s name in conversation.  If someone introducing you mispronounces your name or gives you the wrong title, wait until the introductions are over and say: “Jim is not the first person to have trouble pronouncing my name, it is … (and give the correct one).” Or: “I am afraid Jim has given me a promotion (or demotion). Actually, I am now … (and give your title)”.  If you are the one making the introduction and you forget the name of the person you are introducing, you can say something like “I remember our last meeting at the Hilton Hotel. Please tell me your name again. I am having a memory lapse”.  If you have been introduced to someone and you need to introduce them to a third party, and you have a memory lapse, ask the person who introduced you to the person to do the introductions.
  • 50. Handshakes:-  Always shake hands with your right hand.  A handshake should be brief, and accompanied by a smile. Look the person directly in the eye and use words such as “how do you do?” and “pleased to meet you.”  Remember that many African, Coloured, Malay and Indian people may prefer a soft grip.  Do not squeeze another person’s hand as this may cause discomfort if one person is wearing sharp jewellery.  Some Malay, Muslim or Jewish people may not offer their hands due to religious beliefs, a smile and nod is enough.  Do not offer a wet or dirty hand.  On formal business occasions and in public, it is inappropriate to kiss, hug or show any other form of body contact greeting other than a handshake.  First-name terms in the workplace are acceptable providing that you give due respect to superiors, in terms of posture and body language.
  • 52.  Even if you know the person well, avoid standing too close. You should be able to turn  360°, and not have physical contact with your colleagues. When you are queuing in the canteen or perhaps waiting in the foyer, the same rules apply. If a person enters your personal space, move one step back and keep your legs slightly apart, creating more space around you. Be careful that you are not too obvious with your gestures, as people might take offence. It is not polite to tell a colleague to move back as they are in your personal space.  On formal occasions, even a couple should avoid any physical contact. 10. TIME MANAGEMENT Reasons why time management is so important 1. Time is limited: Everyone gets the same amount of time each day, and it's limited, therefore it's important to make the most of your time if you ever want to be more than average at the workplace. 2. Accomplish more with less effort: By taking control of your time, you're able to stay focused on the task at hand. This leads to higher efficiency since you never lose momentum. Imagine running a mile where you stop every 5 seconds, this would cause you to become exhausted very quickly and take much longer to complete the run. 3. Make better decisions: There are many choices in life and often-times we're faced with many choices to choose from at the same time. When you practice good time management, you have more time to breathe; this allows you to determine which choices are the best to make.
  • 53. 4. Be more successful: Time management is the key to success; it allows you to take control of your life rather than follow the flow of others. You accomplish more, you make better decisions, and you work more efficiently; this leads to a more successful life. 5. Learn more: When you control your time and work more efficiently, you're able to learn more and increase your experience faster. There's a reason some students graduate earlier than others, so imagine implementing time management throughout your entire career. You'll not only stand out from the rest, but you'll gain experience must faster and be able to move up in life a lot sooner. 6. Reduce stress: One of the main causes of stress is due to people feeling rushed. The phrase "I have so much to do and so little time to do it" is generally spoken with frustration which leads to stress. With good time management, you know how much time you have, how long it will take to get your tasks done, you accomplish more, and have more free time. This gives you more breathing room, which reduces the feeling of being rushed, which in turn leads to less frustration and stress. 7. Higher quality work: We all need some free time to relax and unwind but, unfortunately, many of us don't get much free time because we're too busy trying to keep up with our daily activities and work load. By implementing time management skills, you are able to get more done in a shorter period of time leading to more free time. 8. Creates discipline: When you practice good time management in your life, you are less likely to procrastinate. Time management leads to higher productivity and leads to a disciplined life. 9. Creating a Positive Cycle with Time Management: Not only are there an abundance of reasons as to why time management is important, but there is a multiplicative benefit of time management. Implementing good time management allows you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which leads to more free time, which leads to lower stress, which increases your attention span and increases your work quality, which leads to more success. Each benefit of time management improves
  • 54. another aspect of your life and it keeps going in a constant cycle. So why is time management important? Well because, it makes you happier, more successful, live a fuller life, and live stress-free. Practice the following techniques to become the master of your own time: 1. Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going. You'll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions. 2. Any activity or conversation that's important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To- do lists get longer and longer to the point where they're unworkable. Appointment books work. Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Schedule when they will begin and end. Have the discipline to keep these appointments. 3. Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results. 4. Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you're doing. Take, for instance, the concept of having "office hours." Isn't "office hours" another way of saying "planned interruptions?" 5. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don't start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time. 6. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Takefive
  • 55. minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what's missing in your next call or activity? 7. Put up a "Do not disturb" sign when you absolutely have to get work done. 8. Practice not answering the phone just because it's ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don't instantly give people your attention unless it's absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate human response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. 9. Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business. 10.Remember that it's impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. 11.11 TEAM WORK If you want to be a Team Player Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: If you have a problem with someone in your group, talk to him about it. Letting bad feelings brew will only make you sour and want to isolate yourself from the group. Not only does it feel good to get it out, but it will be better for the team in the long run. Don't Blame Others: People in your group lose respect for you if you're constantly blaming others for not meeting deadlines. You're not fooling anyone, people know who isn't pulling his weight in a group. Pointing the finger will only make you look cowardly. Group members understand if you have a heavy workload and weren't able to meet a deadline. Saying something like, "I'm really sorry, but I'll get it to you by the end of today." will earn you a lot more respect than trying to make it seem like it's everyone else's fault that you missed your deadline.
  • 56. Support Group Member's Ideas: If a teammate suggests something, always consider it – even if it's the silliest idea you've ever heard! Considering the group's ideas shows you're interested in other people's ideas, not just your own. And this makes you a good team member. After all, nobody likes a know-it-all. No Bragging: It's one thing to rejoice in your successes with the group, but don't act like a superstar. Doing this will make others regret your personal successes and may create tension within the group. You don't have to brag to let people know you've done a good job, people will already know. Have faith that people will recognize when good work is being done and that they'll let you know how well you're doing. Your response? Something like "Thanks, that means a lot." is enough. Listen Actively: Look at the person who's speaking to you, nod, ask probing questions and acknowledge what's said by paraphrasing points that have been made. If you're unclear about something that's been said, ask for more information to clear up any confusion before moving on. Effective communication is a vital part of any team, so the value of good listening skills shouldn't be underestimated. Get Involved: Share suggestions, ideas, solutions and proposals with your team members. Take the time to help your fellow teammates, no matter the request. You can guarantee there will be a time in the future when you'll need some help or advice. And if you've helped them in past, they'll be more than happy to lend a helping hand.