Sunday, August 30, 2009

The art of resolving interpersonal conflicts

Where there's people, there's politics. Personally, I have heard this phrase too many times. Having worked in the customer service line in a couple of different companies, I cannot agree more with that phrase.

It is true that conflicts arise when there are interactions between people; as we have all learnt previously, ineffective communication results in warped interpretations of intended meanings, which leads to unhappy feelings and hence affects relations.

Of course, politics is not the only cause of interpersonal conflicts. Conflicting interests and general miscommunication between loved ones or friends, for example, can also lead to disputes or even heated arguments or fights. And what it takes to spark off a conflict may just be a word or gesture. Moreover, different people have different ways of dealing with conflicts and disagreements, which makes resolution of interpersonal conflicts difficult.

Personally, I am not one to get into direct confrontations with people I am not close to. This means that for example, I hardly get into sticky situations with my classmates or colleagues unless my limit is reached, which is really rare. However, I am guilty of "abusing" my roomie, who is my younger sister.

In times of stress especially, I tend to vent my frustrations on my younger sister which causes strain on our relationship for awhile. However, for us, the anger dies down after a day or two, and then we are back to very good terms again. For example, sometimes when I am stressed up, I would snap at her for simply talking on the phone while I am doing work. For myself, I know it is wrong to do that but my prideful personality forbades me to "bow down" and apologise to her. So I end up upsetting her when it wasn't her fault in the first place. On her part, I believe she knows my character, and so I noticed that she would leave me alone and stay out of my way when I am frustrated or stressed up, and when it's all over everything would just fall back into place again. I do wonder if this is the case for alot of people, as it could be human nature for one to take for granted people whom one is especially close to and know very well.

One may argue that siblings tend to know each other well enough to know how to handle conflicts that arise between themselves, but I would say that conflicts take alot of different forms and vary in level of seriousness. And because conflicts may eventually "make" or "break" a relationship, each and every conflict should be properly handled.

The skill of resolving interpersonal conflicts is therefore an art that is not easily grasped and definitely not easily practised. I believe it takes a reasonable level of EQ (emotional quotient) and experience for someone to be able to handle interpersonal conflicts in a reasonably apt manner. As for the former, one would most likely agree on the uncontrollability of it, since each individual's EQ level is pretty much determined upon birth. As for the latter, one could actually improve on his or her capability to handle interpersonal conflicts by working or interacting more with people, who are the perpetrators of interpersonal conflicts. This would help one to realise what goes in this world, and what doesn't, and hence develop interactive skills that works to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

Resolving interpersonal conflicts is truly an art worth learning. People tend to show their true colours in times of conflict, and knowledge of how different people deals with conflicts would help one evaluate or manage his or her interpersonal relationships or even relations with colleagues in the workplace.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why ES2007S? - Motivations and Expectations

"The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives", says Anthony Robbins (an American adviser to leaders).

Based on my interpretation, it means that how and what we communicate with others on an everyday basis goes a long way and eventually effects how fulfilling we would deem our own lives to be. I totally agree with that. It is not about using sophisticated, hefty language but about using simple words that bring ideas and intentions across clearly; and it is not about flaunting what we know in our conversations but instead about exchanging views which are relevant and apt to the conversations. Basically, effective communication promises a rewarding life.

Last December, I went on a community service trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia where I had the chance to experience a totally different culture and environment from Singapore. What impressed upon me the most was how body language is very likely the most powerful language that exists in this world. With just a simple smile, two strangers who just seconds ago were studying each other could reach a mutual understanding that both parties were harmless and that they were "friends", and with simple sign language, thoughts could be put across amazingly effectively as well. This showed me clearly that there exists universal standards that people all over the world have reached a consensus about, and really touched me because Singaporeans are in almost all aspects different from Cambodians, yet these universal standards still apply.

Human relations and interactions have always been one of my interests, especially those that involve communication between people of diverse backgrounds, whether in their fields of study or in their cultural upbringing. In fact, it is not just an interest, but something close to my heart. In my years of growing up, I find that having meaning in what I do is what keeps me going. And this cannot be achieved if I am not able to effectively communicate with people I come into contact with, because that is the channel through which one may reach a better understanding of the other party. One may wonder, so what has this kind of communication got to do with professional communication? I would say, of course it does; we are dealing with people afterall, whether it is orally (as in during job interviews, meetings etc) or via written works on paper. It is because of this desire to be able to understand what links different people together which in turn allows for effective communication that drives my enthusiasm and interest in this module.

And with this, I shall end my first ever serious blog entry (I am not one to blog about my feelings so this is my virgin attempt; it took me really long to get started because I had to get past a serious phase of inertia, simply because I was fretting over how to begin writing this..). I am definitely looking forward to future sessions of this module!