Sunday, November 9, 2008

Last blog post

To be frank, I have no idea or whatsoever how to start writing this blog. This is because this week’s blog post is somewhat different from the previous posts which have at least a theme or main topic to discuss about. (Not that I do not have writer’s block when I do the previous posts!) This week post is rather different and interesting as I have to write about my reflections on how I have changed throughout the course.

In fact, this is actually my first ever blog and before that, I have absolutely no idea how to set up a blog. Eventually, I learnt how to do it which was actually pretty easy! Flashback to the first day of class, I intrigued by why I took this course in the first place when the workload was unimaginably heavy! However, the subsequent classes changed my opinion of the course bit by bit and I was in fact looking forward to classes every week. As compared to the other modules, this module is one that is entirely different as it focuses on students’ interaction with each other and gone were the days where I would doze off when the tutor is writing solutions to tutorial questions on the whiteboard.

After reading through my first blog post again, I feel that my understanding of effective communication have changed greatly! Undeniably, those points that I have included in my blog were true, yet, they were only the verbal aspects of effective communication. There are, in fact, more to effective communication than just verbal aspects and they include writing minutes, agendas, resumes and job application letters. Similarly, I have gone through a mock interview and gave an oral presentation to an ‘authorized’ crowd. All in all, I feel that I have learnt a lot through this course and I will definitely apply these skills that I have attained whenever necessary!

Ultimately, I feel that I have become more open and ‘daring’ in voicing out my opinions and any ideas that I have. Moreover, I have also come to know the class better and built lasting friendships which is something that I can never have done in other tutorial classes. This is definitely an enriching experience that I have gained much from. Having gone through all my previous blog posts, I feel that my recent posts are showing a more personal touch when compared to the very first few posts that I have written!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


My name is Leng Xiuwen and I am a twenty-year-old female currently in my second year of undergraduate studies in National University of Singapore (NUS), majoring in Statistics and Applied Probability. Being in the retail industry during my part time tenure has allowed me to develop a myriad of interpersonal skills that I believe I can draw upon in future. I have trained myself to be able to adapt quickly to different situations by constantly having to attend to different customers. As such, I believe that I have the diverse interpersonal skills that are essential in the working world, where one will get to meet and work with different kinds of people every day. Having a cheerful and outgoing personality has definitely helped me to build a wide network of connections which I can tap into when I enter the workforce. Furthermore, it can also help to develop good relationships in the workplace, which in turn translates to higher efficiency within a team. Serving as the president of Science Computer Based Learning Center has allowed me to develop my leadership abilities and trained myself to work effectively in a team. Hence, I am confident to perform and lead effectively in a team. It is without a doubt that entering the workforce will be a new challenge, but I believe that with these invaluable skills I have picked up along the way will help me to excel in the workforce.

*edited on 19th Oct

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reflecting on my report writing!

Being a statistics major, this is the first time I have to submit a business report. It is considered quite a challenge as I have little prior experience in writing reports. During my Junior college days, I had to write a report for Project Work, and although I did learn quite a bit about report writing then, the scope for it this time is quite different. For one, the time frame to finalize this report is very much shorter. And the biggest difference is that this time the report is to be viewed by professionals! During my first year in NUS, the closest ‘reports’ that I ever got to writing was java programs for one of my core modules.

Effective communication is very important in a research group as it allows for better understanding and bonding among the members. One of my group members is from Myanmar, and initially I was afraid that the language barrier might be a hindrance in our discussions. Amazingly, I was wrong. Sammy could converse well in English and we were able to share many discussions without a hitch. An interesting fact that Eileen and I found out nearing the end of our project was that Sammy was actually more proficient in Chinese! It was pretty hilarious as we were rather shocked to hear him converse in Mandarin during our last meeting, as all along we thought that he could only speak in English! As such, it seems that bonding in a team is very important as it helps us to work more effectively together.

Of the three of us, I would say that Sammy is the drive behind our team as he is the one who will keep us to our deadlines. Without him to push us, we might probably not be as efficient. As our schedules were quite packed, we had most of our meetings online, and luckily we had Sammy to push us and remind us of our deadlines, so that everything can go according to plan smoothly.

I have also picked up new skills during the course of this project. One thing that I have gained was using Microsoft Excel to construct graphs. I never knew that excel was able to construct graphs as I never had the experience in administrative work before. I also learnt to gather resources from the internet and related books.

All in all, it has been quite a positive experience in doing this research report with my team members. There were times when we had fun with endless laughter and times when we had to sit down and do our work seriously. This is indeed one of the projects that I have enjoyed participating in, despite the fact that the time span was pretty short and we had to rush everything out within a short timeframe. Undoubtedly, I have learnt a lot from this experience, and I will certainly miss the times Eileen, Sammy and I shared during the project. They are the best team members I can ever ask for!

*edited on 12th Oct

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Evaluating Intercultural Behaviour

Taken from:

One day, my mother’s friend had decided to bring her family here to spend their summer vacation. She felt that it was important to let her daughter learn about the different races and cultures of Singapore because she had migrated to Holland when her daughter was just a year old. Hence, she has absolutely no idea about the different cultures in Singapore.

My mother told me to bring her friend’s daughter, Kate, around while the adults gather for a high school reunion. Nonetheless, I agreed as I was rather interested in being able to show Kate around Singapore. Some well known places included Chinatown, Little India, Geylang Serai et cetera. I was very excited as I can finally get to share my experiences of having lived in Singapore ever since I was born.

As she will be staying in Singapore for only a day, I had to finish touring the whole island with her and there was so much for her to see and experience! Initially, I could see that she felt quite out of place as there were many things that she was seeing for the first time. Take for example; tasting the different Indian and Malay Cuisine was a whole new experience for her and the after-taste was a little too much for her. Nonetheless, she tried them even though they were not to her liking. I also brought her to the different temples in Singapore. The smell of the joss sticks in temples was also too much for her. However so, she managed to overcome it and had commented on the excellent workmanship of the temples.

Taken from:

It seems to me that intercultural communication occurs everywhere and anywhere, especially so in countries which have different cultural groups. One interesting fact is that if we were to live in that particular country, there is definitely much for us to learn about the other cultures. I believe that it is always possible to adapt to new cultures if there was sufficient time given, it is the mindset that needs to be changed to accept a culture different from ours. It might be difficult initially but it is definitely possible. In order for one to communicate effectively with another of a different cultural background, it would be beneficial to learn more about their culture first. Take the first step!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Efficient Energy Use

Green, green, green! That is what we will be looking at in five to ten years down the road. Probably, green would be the only color we see everywhere. There would be green houses, green cars, and even more green trees around! In fact, this is in response to the increasing environmental damages that we are inflicting today. Often, we do not see the impact of the damaging the Earth when we are doing so, however, small damages done by individuals would enlarge to become a huge problem. Take for example; the overwhelming amount of emission of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere is deteriorating the global warming problem and creating trouble for us. Hence, it is really important for us to create awareness of resource conservation and to pay attention to the problems that it can create.

Taken from:

One possible research topic could be on creating the awareness of conserving NUS ‘free’ resources, reducing wastage so as to create a more energy-efficient and environmental friendly university. This is with respect to ‘free’ resources like electricity, water and paper usage etc. The notion of efficient energy use is probably foreign to many science faculty students as there is minimal exposure to it. In fact, would they consider conserving energy at home by investing in energy efficient appliances?

Taken from:

Hypothesis: Most students in the Science Faculty at NUS lack the awareness and willingness to conserve ‘free’ resources so as to reduce wastage and maintain the efficient use of energy.

Problem statement: One of the objectives of this research study is to determine the extent of the knowledge on efficient energy use in NUS and subsequently at home. It is also to determine if they are aware of the existence of efficient energy buildings (also known as ‘green’ buildings).

Taken from:

Purpose statement: The objectives of this report are to collate the results and sent it to the National Environment Agency (NEA) or the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) to inform them the actual level of awareness of NUS science faculty students on the efficient use of energy. Hence, by knowing these results, subsequent actions could be done to better the situation. Perhaps the authorities could organize workshops and a series of events on efficient energy use to increase their awareness, could be done to better the situation.

Reasons for survey: The surveys will reflect the extent of interest and level of awareness the science faculty students have towards the idea of efficient energy use. From the surveys, we can also deduce the reasons that they have for their apathy towards the issue of efficient energy use.

The issue of global warming is very much at heart. Every little effort counts. Hence, we should start by creating the awareness of conserving energy, and the use of efficient energy to reduce wastage of energy.

*edited on 9th Sept

Friday, August 29, 2008

Resolving interpersonal conflict

Taken from:

Most commonly, interpersonal conflicts arise due to lack of “proper” communication like face-to-face interaction or talking on the phone. It is always easy to create conflicts as compared to solving them. Throughout the years of my earlier education, I am constantly being put on a task of holding responsibilities. It is through these responsibilities that I need to build interpersonal skills between my group members and me. Hence, it seems that effective communication is thus essential. Problems of miscommunication (or perhaps no communication) will give rise to undesirable conflicts. Having conflicts is the last thing a team would want in their group as it not only hinders progress but also turns the relationship sour between one another!

There are times when you felt lost in your world and that you have absolutely no idea what to do or what you are doing at all. It takes a lot of courage for one to overcome whatever obstacles that were presented to you, hence, it is important for one to be optimistic and look at it as a challenge rather that a problem to yourself. There are precious lessons learned that form your journey in life. The whole process from learning how to handle them to resolving them will be a tough but experiential one. It is always easy for one to act as if nothing had happened and slowly ‘forget’ the conflict such that it had never existed.

It first started when I was given an important responsibility in my secondary school CCA (co-curriculum activities). I was shocked when the result was announced as I had never expected or rather see myself taking on that leadership role. One particular reason was that I had always thought that my best friend who was in the same CCA as me would be given the post. Although she seemed fine after the result was announced, I could tell how much she wanted the post as she had always been looking forward to the AGM. Furthermore, those in my CCA had voted and supported her in taking on that leadership role.

Right after the announcement, my senior told that it was because A’s overly ambitious personality was not suitable for that important role and that I was a better choice as compared to her. Our styles of management are completely different and all of them felt that I would bring the CCA to better endeavors. They had also told me that it was true that she was the top choice from the votes casted. However ultimately, they felt that my character was more apt in taking the leading role. In fact, they noticed that I had better rapport with the rest of the members. I tried to convince them that even so, I was not prepared and did not have the confidence to take on that role, but they keep encouraging me to try out and have faith in myself. I could not reject or disagree as I don’t want them to be disappointed. So reluctantly, I accepted my post.

While going home that day, I tried to lighten the atmosphere by cracking jokes. However, no matter what I said the atmosphere seemed even tenser and I was feeling ever more uncomfortable. I was kind of reproaching myself and felt as if I had betrayed my friend’s trust. I had always joked that what revolutionary changes she would take to change our current system of management as she had always felt that our CCA were lacking in some areas and she was sure that she could change that! She was always the one with ambitious ideas unlike me who always likes to fool around. I always felt that building bonds with each and every one of the members is more important, that was why I always like to hang out with them, especially the seniors. But little did I know that she took all those actions to heart.

“I’ve always known why you liked hanging out with the seniors after CCA. This is how you worked your way to the top!”

I could not believe that words came from the friend who had been with me ever since secondary one. We were like inseparable twins. I had always known she liked competitions and she thought that competitions are essential for improving oneself in terms of capability and experience. I was the laid- back one who felt that competitions harm relationships. Undeniably, competitions do spur you on to greater heights. Yet, being overly competitive will strain your relationship with those around you.

After that day, our relationship was never the same as before. To make things worse, I had a hectic schedule to follow, so our friendship has since then drifted apart. Although she had not mentioned anything since that day, I felt that our relationship will never be the same again. We eventually stopped hanging out or talk to each other.

It has been years since that incident. I still think about it now and then when I am alone. Could I have handled the situation better? Perhaps I could have sat down and have a long chat with her to solve that existing conflict. However, having known her for years, I knew that she would find excuses for being busy and not listening to me. With that in mind, I did not bother to resolve the obvious problem between us. What would happen if I had not assumed that to be the case? What could I have done to get her back?

Perhaps it was impossible to return things the way they were before. One will just have to live with the facts and reality of life. This is just how life is. Interpersonal relationships are that fragile. Obstacles are presented to you for a reason. One should learn from such obstacles and not make the same mistakes again.

Taken from:

Sometimes, the idea of calling her came to my mind. I would pick up the phone and put down the phone instantaneously. I am afraid of saying the wrong things to her again. Thus, I keep putting off the idea thinking that I was too busy with my work to give her a call. I keep telling myself that I will call one day.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. =)

*Added pictures on 9th Sept

Friday, August 22, 2008

Communicating effectively == Effective communication

Over the years, humans have gone through evolution with the development of science and technology. Evidently, communication has been around since the beginning of Stone Age where carvings prove to be the main tool for communication. Subsequently, proper language has been established which enables people to understand each other better. Now, in this fast paced society, effective communication seems to be the way to get things done efficiently.

Effective communication is essential and plays a seemingly important role in our daily lives. To be able to communicate effectively would ensure that information flows from one to another and that everyone is clear about what is going on. It also helps us to pass important messages to people and to allow them to grasp the situation. If one is unable to communicate with another effectively, resources like time will be lost and wasted. Hence, it does seem that to be able to communicate effectively is of utmost importance. This is especially so in the workplace where there are people with different personalities. By being able to relate to everyone, to keep them engaged and entertained, communicating effectively helps to build a positive relationship with your colleagues. Furthermore, effective communication allows one to solve problems efficiently as one is able to gain possible solutions by communicating actively with his colleagues. This also helps in reducing misunderstanding among colleagues in a company, thus giving rise to a more efficient team that produces substantial results. As such, it seems that effective communication is important in the workplace.

Similarly, effective communication is also important in schools where one can build an extended network of friends. In this way, one can tap on his circle of networks to garner help when he needs it either for projects or schoolwork. This helps him to finish his tasks quickly and hence have more time for leisure activities. However, in order to have such an extended network, one will need to be proactive and take an interest in the things that the communicating party likes. Only in this way can effective communication produce optimal results.

Effective communication is most important when differences between one another arise which might result in quarrels and unhappiness when such situations are mishandled. Therefore, effective communication is essential in making the best out of such problematic situations should it arise without cue anytime, anywhere!