Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Are you listening?



While talking on the telephone often you ask the listener - "Are you Listening?" If there is no sound of response such as 'hmm', 'yes', 'please go ahead', 'I understand', etc. you tend to feel that your words are falling on deaf ears. More so when you are negotiating on the telephone. 

But what happens when you talk face to face? 

The significance of your words is reduced to just 10 to 15%. 'How you say it?' - becomes more important than what you say. Even when you are articulate the efficacy of your words will not go down unless you compliment your words with voice modulation. 

Modulation is your ability to bring variance in Pace, Pause, Pitch, Emphasis on the keywords and the Tone.

Further, you body language* too is extremely important for making the communication convincing and effective. 

Attentive listening to others is the key to build good relations. Listen to others and they will listen to you!

*(facial expression, posture, gestures, eye contact)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Ms. Manners



A few years ago I had joined  ‘A poetry club’. I fail to remember the club’s name.

A number of persons trying to call themselves Poets! The chief undoubtedly is a poet. His poems constitute a part of the English literature curriculum for students of master of arts degree in English literature. Frankly, I did not read his poems. He recited some of theses from time to time in our poetry meetings

And we had a lady member whose name I would not like to reveal. Let me call her Ms. Manners.

We were at the get-together hosted by a Business Chamber. The Chief Guest was Counsel General from an African country. After the speech of the Chief Guest and a Vote of Thanks, the chamber had arranged cocktails. Guests were enjoying conversations in small groups. I was a part of one such group. Our Ms. Manners was enthusiastically speaking about something to the Deputy Counsel General. He too, was deeply engaged and added a comment here and there. I was a mute spectator because I didn’t understand what they were talking about. The conversation swung from trade to tradition and from African Jungles to Railway Networks. Meanwhile, the Diplomat was approached by another guest. Ms. Manners took me aside and started advising me discretely and confidently. “You must find space and enter the conversion. One should be able to contribute to any topic to make his or her presence felt. Otherwise, you are left alone, you know”, she said. And did I not know!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Jarnail Singh



I met him in the train while travelling from Mumbai to Jalandhar. He boarded the train at Baroda. A thickly built young man, in early 40’s, he displayed the usual attributes of a Sardarji- Exuding energy, broad smile and an uncanny frankness.

He came to cabin A of the compartment, where I and my wife were sitting, after discussing ‘something’ with the conductor. Till Baroda, we were the only travelers in the cabin meant for 4 passengers. After settling his luggage, he greeted us by mumbling ‘Satsariakaal’ with a broad amiable smile.

Introducing self and my wife, I asked him where he was going and what was his profession. He had been traveling for nearly a ‘fortnight. He met his clients in Southern India and in Gujarat. Now, he was going back to his hometown – Amritsar.

He makes agro net knitting machines. I had never heard of these. Nets made by these machines are used to protect fruits and flowers from the vagaries of weather. Upon further inquiries, he informed that the ultraviolet rays of the sun are controlled by these nets. Temperature is also controlled. It was interesting to know that red nets are used as a protective ceiling for red roses, blackish violet nets for the black grapes which are grown in vineyards of Nasik and Hyderabad. Good interesting knowledge. His clear descriptions were constantly interrupted by the two mobiles, he was carrying.

Mostly, he spoke in Punjabi. His Hindi, too, had the robust Punjabi flavour.
‘O, ji, kii kariya! English phasha bot aukhi ya. Lakh koshish karan naal wi aundi nai’. (What shall we do? In spite of maximum efforts, it is very difficult to learn)

Main ta ji padhiya likhya nai. Ajkal ae mobilan ne kum saukha kar dita ya. Maila shailani appaan chhoti moti English which kar laine yan. Baaki Rab Raakha.

(I am uneducated. Mobile has made life very easy these days. The little knowledge of English language that I have helps me to handle the e-mails that I receive from my factory & clients in different parts of the country Rest comes with the Almighty’s Help.

Ethos, Pathos, Logos : Part II


Yesterday I talked about ‘Ethos’ i.e. your credentials. Today, I’ll explain ‘Pathos’ & ‘Logos’.

‘Pathos’ represents the needs or the expectations of your audience. What does your audience need from you?  If your communications satisfies this need, you are a good communicator/speaker.

You must know the audience profile in order to establish their requirements. Age group, Gender, qualification, profession, general likes and dislikes. These all comprise the profile. Having understood the audience, it is easy to frame a suitable talk. When you are communicating to an individual, you have to put yourself in his/her shoes in order to define the needs.

Lastly, it is ‘logos’. ‘Logos’ refers to your ability to be convincing. Your ability to influence people. You can do this with the following in mind.

  1. You must choose your words with discretion.
  2. Use simple language.
  3. Modulate your speech to hold attention of listener/listeners.
  4. Speak to express and not impress.
  5. Develop your own natural style. Don’t copy anyone.
  6. Maintain cordiality.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

‘Ethos, Pathos, Logos’



Three simple but rather uncommon words. Three great  words not only for the public speakers but for everyone, according to me.

Today, I’ll talk about ‘Ethos’

What is Ethos? It reflects your credentials. I explain to my students like this. “Imagine that you are appointed Ambassador of your country to another state. The first job that you have to do is to present your authorization documents to the head of the state in which you are appointed Ambassador. Likewise, a speaker must present his/her credentials to the audience. The audience must know that you are the right person to speak on the subject. That you not only have the required qualification and knowledge to speak on the subject but also desire and enthusiasm to benefit the audience. This is about public speaking. But everyone is not a public speakers, you might argue.

Just to explain further, I’ll ask you a question. Suppose, you have to make an important phone call. Is it not necessary for the person to know that you are the right person, that you know what you are talking about and you have done your ‘home work’ before lifting the telephone. It’s only about forming a habit. Depending on what you are speaking about and to whom, it may take only a few seconds to reflect and then only you should make the call.

And please don’t forget to remember Aristotle for he was the first to describ these three words ‘Ethos, Pathos, and Logos’ which can bring about a great change in our lives!  

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

‘Pehle Tol Phir Bol’



Elders used to say that simple old ‘sayings’ can guide you to live a successful life. One such saying in Hindi is “Pehle Tol Phir Bol”. 

Literal translation in English would be “First weigh then speak”. 

Literal English translation is rather awkward and does not convey the intent. “Think before you speak” too, according to me does not carry the same meaning and is rather ineffective. “Before speaking a few words one must consider the effects and their future impact” appears to convey the thought behind the same, though it does not seem to carry conviction. 

Why there is so much importance of ‘considering’ or reflecting before speaking? How many of us are really following this simple principle. It is said  that  the tongue which is the chief organ of speech heals extremely fast. But the wounds that it can create in the mind of the listener sometimes never heal.

Lot of importance is laid, today, on interpersonal skills or the art of relationship building. ‘What you say and how you say it’ is instrumental in improving or spoiling your ‘interpersonal skills’.