Monday, August 10, 2009

48) Skills (continued)

"The important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." Peter Drucker

Body language(otherwise known as non-verbal communication)is what isn't being said. It is what is seen and experienced, and interpreted. Someone who studied human bahavior, wrote: "Men lie with their lips, but not with their bodies". That is why observing the speaker adds much to the content of what is being said. Albert Mehrabian, a communication teacher, discovered that 55% of the message was communicated non-verbally, 38% through tone of voice and only 7% through spoken words. We now know how important the less important areas of communication are - gestures, postures, positions and distances. The body signals in many thousand ways, of which most are from the face - showing happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust and fear. The body sends out a continuous flow of cues, even after the person has stopped speaking. We look at a woman intently and ask questions with a smile, suggesting that we like her. With another, we dislike, we are silent, lean back and look away. Body language is expressed in the timber of the voice, the look in the eyes, the set of the mouth, the flare of the nostrils, the smile, the frown, the sneer, the upturned lip, the way we use our hands and shoulders, and our gait. In short, the whole body communicates. When children watch those they admire, they like to imitate the way they walk, talk and gesticulate. Since non-verbal communication is more important than acknowledged, could we become the idols whom our children want to copy?

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems, is the problem." Theodore Rubin

A small factory had to stop operations when an essential piece of machinery broke down. None of the technicians in the factory could fix the machine, so outside help was requested. The expert circled the machine, fidgeted with this and that, stood for long in thought, then taking a small hammer gently tapped the machine at one spot; it sprang into action. The next day he submitted a bill for $100. The factory manager was outraged that the expert demanded $100 for just tapping the machine. So he asked for an itemized bill. The expert resubmitted the bill to read: $1 for tapping the machine and $99 for knowing where to tap.(An extract from Bits & Pieces)

Certainly problem-solving skills come at a high price, because solving a problem calls for a stable and resourceful mind, that can think out-of-the-box. The normal response to a problem is worry, which results in going around the problem in maddening futile circles, compounding it. The other option is to be concerned, which
means sizing up the dimensions of the problem, and calmly taking steps to solve it. A step by step approach certainly helps, taking a hint from a blind mother who was asked how she coped with problems in her life, given her handicap. With a broad smile, she replied: "I take one thing at a time".

Do our children get flustered when they are faced with a problem? E.g.,she missed school for a few days, because she was ill. Would see a problem coping with missed classes or would she work out a plan on how to catch up? A lot will depend on how she sees us cope with problems.

"When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters - one represents 'danger' and the other represents 'opportunity'." John F. Kennedy

Do we see danger or opportunity in a crisis? Do we teach our children to look at a crisis as an opportunity? Let us take a situation: the child loses her school bag in the school premises. To her, that is a crisis. She can panic or see it as an opportunity to manage the crisis intelligently and resourcefully. First, she should inform school authorities. Second, she could describe her bag to her friends and enlist their support in the search. Third, she could call home from the school office and warn folks that she is likely to be late because of the search for her bag. Fourth, she could visualize the worst case scenario: text books lost could be purchased again, although it would make her dad's wallet a little lighter. Being an understanding and caring dad, he would not mind that because he could count on his daughter not being careless. Then she could figure out from whom she could borrow notes to have them photocopied; and size up the loss in terms of pens, pencils and other accessories that were in the bag. Having done this mental damage-control-list, she would have a clearer picture of the crisis, even as the search continues. She may or may not find the bag, but now she is better prepared for the loss. The Dalai Lama cautions us that the best part of the brain, in which judgments are made, cannot function properly, when human emotions are out of control. So panic in a crisis is counter productive; it only clouds the mind.

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