How to Draft a Perfect Professional Resume?

How and what words you use to write your resume´is consequential. Based on a career builder survey hiring managers spend 30 seconds or less on reviewing resumes. This means each word you use would be indicative of something and the hiring manager would interpret it according to its verbal strength and purposefulness. So how to draft a resume to make an impression on the reader?

A resume´is a document that represents you when you are not physically present. Resume´speaks for you in your absence. It is a professional statement of your education, qualification and skills to help the recruiter determine your eligibility for an interview.

How to draft a resume to make an impression on the reader? Here I would like to share a few important guidelines:

Before you write your resume ask yourself a few questions like:

a) Who am I?

b) What is my objective in life?

c)What is my professional calling?

d)Why did I choose a particular stream/ career?

e)What skills do I possess to support my professional goals?

f) How will my education and my skills help me to contribute to the job/job profile that I am applying for?

If you are able to answer these questions satisfactorily then you will be able to carve a true first impression for yourself.  Having stated this, we would now focus on how to draft a great killer resume´?

Here we discuss the secret of drafting a perfect professional resume:

  • Choose an easy and attractive layout– keep it simple and easy to read. Do not use multiple colours and font types. The best idea is to keep your document in black and white and use professionally accepted fonts like Ariel, Garamond, Georgia, Calibri  or Helvetica which are preferred by most professionals. What really matters is that the font should be easy to read at a glance. Keep your font size at between 10 and 12 point depending on the type of font you choose.
  • Margins and Spaces: Keep margins to 1/2 or 1 inch on all sides of the page. Leave reasonable white spaces between your content to make the document legible. Use bullet points to classify information or list points. Check for alignment and justify the document. Leave single spacing between lines. Avoid double spacing to compress your content in one or two pages. Remember resume´is a short crisp formal document.
  • Arrange the information under clearly defined headings and subheadings: Before discussing the heading and subheading it is necessary to understand that resumes´are of three types:
  1. Chronological resume´- Based on chronological order. It is good for entry-level        job seekers
  2.  Functional resume´-Based on skills and experience rather than education Suitable for mid-level or senior job seekers
  3. Combination resume´- Combination of both but it focuses more on specific skills that the applicant wants to showcase along with the chronological details and is a great way to cover gaps in your work history.

So, once you choose the right resume that is suited to your requirement , then you can start with the crucial task of arranging your details in the right sequence.

The essential elements of a resume´: Essential elements consist of the following:

  • Heading: It tells the reader about your name and contact information. It should include your address for correspondence, e-mail address and your mobile/phone number. Use slightly larger font size to differentiate this information from the rest of the document. You know this is where your hiring manager will find you.
  • Resume Summary/Objective: Brief description of why you are applying for the job and how you make a suitable candidate
  • Education/ Experience: It informs the reader of your education/experience, specialisation/nature of responsibilities/ expertise etc. This information should be presented in reverse chronological order.
  • Skills: Skills play a key role in your resume´ being selected by recruiters. The universally recognised skills are Communication, Technical/ computer literacy, team spirit, decision-making and problem-solving skills. Place only those skills on your resume which rightly project your personality and potential. Strictly avoid false, fake or incorrect information to maximise your chances of  success in your interview. Your skills should match the skills defined in the job description. Most companies today use Applicant Tracking System which enables them to match the key words i.e. your listed skills with the skills required for a particular job profile. If the skills match the key words then you stand a better chance of receiving an interview call.
  • Activities/ Interests: This category adds credibility to your words by giving the recruiter a fair idea of your proven skills. Here you should cite activities/ relevant examples of the work/experience/ interest that demonstrate your active participation and engagement in activities that highlight your skill or accomplishments. You may include participation in workshops/ conferences/ conclaves/ internship/training or any other work-related experience which you feel might add value to your credentials. If you are a fresher do include your sports/ cultural excellence and participation details.
  • Style of Writing: How and what words you use to write your resume´is consequential. Based on a career builder survey hiring managers spend 30 seconds or less on reviewing resumes. This means each word you use would be indicative of something and the hiring manager would interpret it according to its verbal strength and purposefulness. How then to use words to create a difference?

Use action words to demonstrate your skills or present your achievements. Be brief and use specific words instead of long sentences. Here is a list of some powerful words and expressions that can give you a lead in this power-play:

  1. Developed a software instead of ‘I was responsible for making a software.’
  2. Led a team of five members instead of ‘I was the team leader of a team consisting of 5 members.’
  3. Negotiated a deal instead of ‘I was successful in making negotiation with the other party.’
  4. Achieved my targets instead of ‘I was able to meet my targets.’
  5. Resolved a problem instead of ‘Applied my problem-solving skills.’
  6. Increased sales by 20% instead of ‘Succeeded in increasing the sales by 20%.’ 
  7. Motivated the team to perform better instead of ‘Was the key person in motivating the team.’
  8. Generated income instead of ‘I brought more revenue through my hard work.’

Action words are clear and specific indicators of your proven skills and accomplishments. Moreover, they speak more and occupy less space.

Avoid empty words to describe your skills, for example Hard-working, self-motivated, Go-getter etc. which fail to communicate the real essence of you potential.

Lastly, include information that is useful for the job applied for.

  • What you should not do: Do not include personal information until asked for. Double-check your resume´for word spellings and grammatical errors. Keep it short and to the point. Stay focused on your purpose. Do not commit the mistake of sending the same document for different roles/companies. Customise the resume´for specific jobs.

If you find this useful, you may follow the following links What the Recruiters Look for in an Interview : Facts Every Candidate Should Know  andPerfect Elevator Pitch to Introduce Yourself in an Interview to further increase your knowledge on interview preparation and top interview questions. Go ahead, your call letter is waiting to be delivered to your inbox. Do not forget to mail your resume’ on time.

 

 

 

How Not to Write Business Messages

Business messages play a significant role in stimulating the work environment. They are that underlying pillar of communication which can help develop a strong bond between the team members, clients, business partners and stake holders. Unfortunately written communication is not taken seriously by most employees. Consequently, everyday we come across shabbily written emails, hurriedly composed messages, grammatically incorrect sentences, unformatted documents and business letters without greetings or proper salutations. Such poorly written business messages are both costly and disasterous to the business. They might lead to grave misunderstanding among the involved parties or delay or damage the intended outcome.

 

Business messages are a link between the team members to facilitate smooth and speedy conduct of routine and specific tasks within and outside the organisation.

Business messages play a significant role in stimulating the work environment. They are that underlying pillar of communication which can help develop a strong bond between the team members, clients, business partners and stake holders. Unfortunately written communication is not taken seriously by most employees. Consequently, everyday we come across shabbily written emails, hurriedly composed messages, grammatically incorrect sentences, unformatted documents and business letters without greetings or proper salutations. Such poorly written business messages are both costly and disasterous to the business. They might lead to grave misunderstanding among the involved parties or delay or damage the intended outcome.

Writing effective messages can increase your productivity and foster strong work relations. Let us see how?

Business writing is serious business: Business messages are meant for business. Do not assume you can get away with your message without giving it a serious thought. An idea is appreciated and accepted if it is well communicated. So think before you write, revise before your type. Every business message has a definite purpose. Identify the purpose, line of thought and the desired outcome before drafting a message. Once your objective is clear to you it will be simpler to pen down your ideas.

You are not the busiest person on earth: Everyone is busy in his own way.  Yes, you have to meet your deadlines, achieve targets, get over routine business and time is limited. This doesn’t make for an excuse to write hurried, unedited, clumsy messages. If you care for your time, remember even the reader cares for his. He may not like to invest extra time in reading messages that are not well written and easy to understand.

Your message is not intended for you: Certainly you want your messages to be read and not to be thrown into the waste paper basket or deleted from the inbox. So write your message  to address the demand of the reader. Customise the message to answer the query of the reader not to satisfy your requirements.  Write exactly what you want the reader to do with your message. Show consideration for the reader by using simple and positive language. Your aim is not to bedazzle the reader by flaunting your jargons and cliches but rather to draw attention of the reader towards your message. Respect your reader and make him feel important by adopting the ‘You Attitude’.

Your language does make an impression: Do not assume that people pay less attention to your language and style of written communication. At a glance, an interested reader will be able to discern the good from the bad.  Incorrect sentences, half written messages and careless mistakes in spelling and grammar are a common sight in the modern day written communication. Our messages today, are more inspired by whatspp and sms lingo, abbreviations and shortcuts. We undermine the professional tone and language to replace it with fanciful and contemporary terms and phrases. This makes the writing appear casual and unimportant. You are what you portray. If your writing reflects gravity of thought and language, people will read your message more seriously. So always make the right impression.

There is always a better way to communicate: You may know the best in your subject and your language may be at par with the best of communicators. However, writing should be followed by re-writing, revising and editing your draft. To avoid any errors and to include exactly what is needed to make your draft clean, crisp and clear you should not overlook the 7 C’s of effective communication, they are:

  •  Clarity
  • Conciseness
  • Concreteness
  • Completeness
  • Correctness
  • Consideration
  • Courtesy

 

How to Build Strong Business Relationships

Trust generates trust. Trust is mutual. Believe in people, in their capacities. their potential, their efficiency.  Never try to take advantage of their vulnerability. Today they are weak, tomorrow they may not be.  Nurturing relationships whether professional or personal is based on consistency, reliability and concern. It is easy to make new contacts but it is difficult to hold and retain them. Relationships should not be taken for granted.

 

Do you find it difficult to hold on to your clients, customers, business partners, shareholders? How cordial are your relations with your colleagues, boss or manager? How do people look upon you? Do they find you trustworthy and dependable? Are you struggling to build trust? If you are seeking answers to any of these questions then you should read on.

Making commitments and keeping them is a skill which helps strengthen relationships. A customer, employee, stakeholder, boss all trust your words and count on you to bring them into action. If you have made a promise, never break it, if you cannot keep a promise, then never commit.

Not sticking to your words is as bad as breaking the trust. It is the daily business,  day to day activities that buid your trust. Every small thing matters, even if it means calling back a client, replying to a mail, keeping an appointment on time, clearing dues or making timely payments. People feel important if they get what they are looking for. They feel respected and valued if you give them what you promise. So if a manager or a team leader is presented with a timely report as per the submission deadline, he will recognise your talent and appreciate  your sincerity, if a product or service is provided to the customer as per his liking and requirements, he will not question your credibility. If a colleague  in need is offered support and help, he will not forget your generosity.

Trust generates trust. Trust is mutual. Believe in people, in their capacities. their potential, their efficiency.  Never try to take advantage of their vulnerability. Today they are weak, tomorrow they may not be.  Nurturing relationships whether professional or personal is based on consistency, reliability and concern. It is easy to make new contacts but it is difficult to hold and retain them. Relationships should not be taken for granted. You have to devote ample time and energy to keep them going. You have to keep evaluating and re-evaluating your relationships to rule out misunderstandings, doubts and differences.

You have to be careful while speaking. Think twice before making any commitments. Ponder, reflect, analyse the validity of your words and statements . Question yourself. Do you really mean them? Can you truly uphold your promise? Is your plan, suggestion, solution or advice feasible? Are you genuine in your response or simply showing off to get temporary attention? Are you aiming at short_term gains or focusing on long_term achievements? If you have the slightest element of doubt in your mind then restrict yourself from making false commitments. Not being true to your words tarnishes your image. It ruins all your future prospects and spoils your relations.

If you feel that you can accomplish a particular task but you are not sure of it, it is always good to be honest. State your concerns and present a realistic picture of the situation instead of keeping the other person in the dark. Raising false hope is almost similar to being dishonest. Hope is the foundation of all human action. If you  steal them of hope you shake the very foundation on which they stand.

Don’t let people think of you as a hopeless jerk. Win their confidence by adhering to the basic principles of fostering strong relations.

Here are 7 basic principles of building lasting relationships:

Establish trust: Trust is built through mutual respect and concern. Establish your credibility by being genuine, honest and respectful.

Keep your words: Maintain coherence in your words and action for winning the confidence of your people. Your actions speak stronger than your words.

Respond to situations: Act in  response to  the needs and requirements of people. Do not blindly pursue what you  think is correct. Step into the shoes of your people to identify their perspective. Respond to specific needs rather than applying general principles.

Show support and involvement: Your support and active involvement with the people around you assures them of your interest in  them and their activities. Lack of  involvement creates distance and scope for doubt.

Identify common interests, goals and values: Sharing and experiencing common interests,  goals and values brings you together and helps you share a common platform. This promotes togetherness and team work.

Be honest even behind the back: Speak positively of people you are associated with. Do not belittle or demean them behind their back. Learn to keep their secrets. Respect their privacy, we all are vulnerable.

Personalise your relations: Do ensure to greet them or meet them beyond work. Meet over coffee or talk over lunch. Call your people to wish them on special occasions. Meeting beyond work encourages a free and relaxed discussion.  It helps to understand the perspectives, experiences and  views of the people more closely.

Build a strong network, value your connections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battling Mental Health: Why and How

If you are hunting for a job and still jobless, overcoming a heartbreak and finding no, solace, recovering from a broken marriage or living a relationship that is loveless; if you are being frequently manipulated, bullied or humiliated ; if you are getting low grades in exams, If you are guilty or convicted; there is a huge possibility that you might suffer from anxiety. If you are irritated on small matters, enraged on petty issues, respond aggressively to arguments and conflicts, feel drained out emotionally, if you feel restless, disgusted, lonely all the time; if  you find yourself hopeless, lack in self -esteem , if you are running short of confidence and are always enveloped by negativity,  then you are experiencing depression and anxiety.

Mental health is one of the most overlooked spectrum of human life. We ignore the mental problems because we fear ridicule, rejection, desolation, distrust, manipulation and discrimination. This fear emanates from the social stigma that is attached to mental illness. Mental sickness is related to the functioning of the human mind. People consider this to be shameful. We look upon mental issues as something which is unnatural and incurable. Brain is the centre that controls and governs the human body, just like the Central Processing Unit (CPU) that controls and commands all functions  of a Computer. When we encounter a problem with the CPU we immediately call for technical support to rectify the error. Then when we face mental problems why don’t we ask for support and care? Why is it that we hide them, make desperate attempts to conceal them, remain passive and indifferent towards them? Don’t we want our mind to function properly when it encounters problems?

Mental problem can operate at two levels; one which is  at a primitive stage like ‘Anxiety disorders’ or mild forms of ‘Depression’; the other is ‘Psychosis’. While the first can be cured through self- help measures and support from family and friends, psychosis in particular requires medical treatment. Managing mental health is just as important as managing physical health. Anxiety and depression are very common. Almost every one in four person suffers from anxiety or depression in his or her lifetime.  It is just that we either fail to recognise or acknowledge the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

If you are hunting for a job and still jobless, overcoming a heartbreak and finding no, solace, recovering from a broken marriage or living a relationship that is loveless; if you are being frequently manipulated, bullied or humiliated ; if you are getting low grades in exams, If you are guilty or convicted; if you lost a loved one or are suffering from fatal disease , there is a huge possibility that you might suffer from anxiety. If you are irritated on small matters, enraged on petty issues, respond aggressively to arguments and conflicts, feel drained out emotionally, if you feel restless, disgusted, lonely all the time; if  you find yourself hopeless, lack in self -esteem , if you are running short of confidence and are always enveloped by negativity,  then you are experiencing depression and anxiety. You are fighting a battle you do not know, you are caught in a web, you do not understand. Know then , that your mind is working against you. It is pushing you further into misery, darkness and desolation. Allow it not to mislead you. Battles of the mind are the hardest to conquer. They challenge you every minute, they pose new threats every moment. They lead you towards destruction. They overpower your reasoning and question your existence. Fight back. Do not give up. Speak up , listen to your mind, anxiety is your mind’s way of telling you that all is not well.

Communication is not sharing thoughts when all is well, we need to talk and talk more when our mind is reeling under pressure. Unfortunately, when we need it most we shut all doors to communication, we shield ourselves from people by raising walls around us. We sever all cords, suspend all activities,distance ourselves from friends and family and withdraw in our shells. All this draws you  more towards isolation and alieanation. The worst condition is when a person stops communicating to oneself. This is dangerous, this passivity, this negativity, this lack of interest, loss of faith, loss of control, loss of patience, loss of energy, it breaks you from within. It shatters you completely.

So how can you heal your mind? Here are practical tips to restore your mental health:

Listen to your mind: Do not ignore the signs of mental illness. Acknowlege them, be sensitive to your mind.

Accept your condition: Half the battle is won through acceptance. Accepting yourself makes it easy to cure yourself.

Do not remain silent, speak up: Sharing your problem is the first step towards restoring your balance.

Learn to Trust: Confide in people who care for you and love you. Family and friends are your biggest strength. Discuss things with them, they will never let you down.

Find your calling: Discover what makes you happy, what gives you satisfaction, what pleases your mind; it could be anything like singing, painting, writing, cooking , gardening,traveliing or just anything that makes you happy.

Believe in yourself: Do not lower your self-esteem, believe in yourself, Recognise your strenghths, accept yourself as you are. You are your best help. “God also helps those who help themselves”

It is okay to fail, it is normal to lose: Failures are not the end of the world. People fall, people rise, people move on. You too can. Nothing is permanent. Winning is not everything but living is. You are here to live and your life is so precious. Do not waste your life. Live strong!

Keep believing in yourself! You are a winner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What then is the True Purpose of Education ?

Let your students take initiatives, allow them to commit mistakes, mistakes make them wise that is what we mean when we preach, “Mistakes are the stepping stones to success”. Let them take the ownership, inspire them to let loose their creativity. Children are creative, help them to exploit their potential, empower them to express their talent, groom them to become self_reliant and independent. Is it not the aim of teaching? If we fail to motivate our students then the very purpose of teaching _learning process is defeated.

This Independence Day I got an opportunity to be part of the prestigious celebration in one of the reputed schools of the town. It was after years I was to attend the Independence Day function at school. Naturally I was excited and eager to revisit school days. The enthusiasm and energy that school children radiate is amazing.

While I was driving down to school I recalled my school days and the preparations that were done to celebrate this day, which holds great significance in the life of every Indian. The struggle of our freedom fighters was remembered with great respect and gratitude. Speeches eulogising the sacrifices of the brave warriors of freedom were carefully rehearsed. The achievements of independent India were highlighted. One had to go through tough competition before getting selected to deliver the speech on the final day of performance on 15th of August, the Indpendece Day of India. Several competitions like patriotic song competition,  folk dance competition,  essay writing , debates or poetry recitation based on patriotic themes were organised by the school. The environment was electrified with the gusto and fervour of the students.

The smart cadets of the National Cadet Corps (N.C.C) dressed in immaculately clean uniforms, forward marched with brisk steps and saluted the Indian tricolour ; it was a sight to remember. Their was something in their body language, spirit and confidence that automatically aroused the spirit of ‘Unity’ and ‘Discipline’  (which is also the motto of N.C.C.) among the eye witnesses. Even though several years have passed but those images are still fresh in my mind as if they happened just yesterday.

I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I did not realise that I had almost arrived at my destination. I walked inside the entrance gate and looked around expecting to find a huge group of energetic young girls and boys and the disciplined school staff to greet me, but to my utter dismay I found just a handful of students and teachers gathered in a small area looking bored and weary . Upon questioning where the function would take place; a hesitant girl shyly escorted me to a nearby shaded space with some chairs placed in rows and occupied by few parents and small children.  After a while, the school teachers walked down  sloppily and stood by the shade. After a long wait, with some background music being played by the school choir ,and a few patriotic slogans that were being raised by one of the teachers, I found the staff and children struggling to maintain the flow. They appeared pretty uninspired and confused. The person shouting slogans would insist upon the students and participants to repeat them after him. The response was both cold and poor. Attendance was thin,  energy was minimal and enthusiasm was zero. It was such a sorry sight and in complete contrast to what I had experienced or expected; this made me question, “what was wrong with these people?’ Yet, I patiently waited for the students to perform. It turned out to be a futile wait. There were two to three speeches and two short performances all by the teachers and the administrative authorities. Here, I would refrain myself from making any observations on them and reserve that for future interaction with my readers.  However, what struck me particularly was the fact that not even a single student was invited on stage to perform or participate in the event. What I have known or understood over the years is that any occasion like this is a platform to  bolster the confidence of the students. This is the time to provide opportunity to young people to overcome their inhibitions and exhibit their talent.

It is the primary responsibility of any academic/ educational institution to focus on the formation of a rounded personality of its pupil. Students learn more by doing rather than by imitating. Students should be active participants rather than mute spectators. They should live and learn through the experiences they undergo. If a student speaks well, let him deliver the speech; if a student sings well motivate him to sing on stage; if a student is good at organizing , allow him to experiment. Let your students take initiatives, allow them to commit mistakes, mistakes make them wise that is what we mean when we preach, “Mistakes are the stepping stones to success”. Let them take the ownership, inspire them to let loose their creativity. Children are creative, help them to exploit their potential, empower them to express their talent, groom them to become self_reliant and independent. Is it not the aim of teaching? If we fail to motivate our students then the very purpose of teaching _learning process is defeated.

I believe the students appeared quite dull and disinterested as they were not actively involved. To make the students more interested we should adopt a strategy to let them explore,  investigate and experience the principles of life by doing things themselves.  Of course, the supervision and guidance of the teachers and guardians is must to ensure the effectiveness of learning.

Let every child be inspired through consistent support and encouragement. To empower the student to grow and excel is the primary purpose of education .

As I conclude,  I leave you with this strong message by famous poet William Butler Yeats :

“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of fire”

Keep lighting the fire…

Speak With Conviction, Lead with Confidence

If you are honest in your conversation, you will reciprocate an honest feedback. If you pretend, you will not sound convincing and subsequently loose your credibility. If your non-verbal cues match with your spoken words they impart clarity and trust to your words. People read your thoughts and judge you by your behavior and attitude. What they see is more important to them than what that they hear. Great communicators never overlook the emotions and feelings of their audience. They value the power of non-verbal communication and implement it in their speech and action. This helps them to  be popular among both the elite and the masses.

I know each one of you is a leader. You are an expert in your own way. I trust you for your skills and abilities. I have complete faith in your inherent capacity to excel in what you do. Your talent and knowledge is no less than the best in the industry. Your achievements  are a testimony to your smart work and efficiency. Yet, at times you experience setbacks, your actions do not yield the desired result, your words fail to draw attention. Someone steals the show while you keep sweating behind the curtain. Someone marches ahead with confidence, mesmerizes the audience with his charismatic persona and impressive demeanor.  You keep wondering what really took him ahead? What is so exceptional about these people who climb up the ladder and lead the crowd. From where does one get this killer attitude? What secret is hidden behind this power -packed performance? This youthful energy and contagious enthusiasm is not a matter of chance or sheer luck; it is hard earned.

The difference between success and failure is defined by your attitude. If you choose to win, win you will. However, winning is just half the story but to stay ahead demands persistence and continual learning. Be open to learning. The moment you cease to learn, you limit your growth.  Stagnation is no growth. You have to keep honing your skills to stay in the race. Learning is a continual process. “If you stop learning, you start dying” observed Albert Einstein.  So success may be short-lived but a die-hard attitude will never let you down. Never rest, never sit back, never rust unburnished but shine in use.

It is important to update your knowledge and expand your skill- set to meet the changing demands of the professional environment and challenges in personal life. Expansion of knowledge and skills heavily rely on the manner in which you communicate and interact with others. Communication is a process of encoding a message and transferring it to the receiver through a suitable medium to achieve a desired action and feedback. How you encode the message will determine how the receiver would decode and respond to it.

If you treat your people with love, respect and dignity they naturally feel more connected to you. If you replace ‘ego‘ with ‘humility’; ‘bossism’ with ‘cordiality’; ‘negativity’ with ‘positivism’; ‘hostility’ with ‘friendliness’; ‘envy’ with ‘generosity’, your attitude will resonate in your conversations, dealings, negotiations and relations with others. It will reflect in your personality and become an integral part of your body language.

Body language is an aspect of communication which expresses your message without making use of the spoken or written words. As we often hear,“Your actions speak louder than the words”, It is absolutely true. What you say is important but how you say is more important. Your gestures, postures, manners, appearance, eye contact and the speed, tone and rhythm of your voice, speak volumes about your personality.

If you are honest in your conversation, you will reciprocate an honest feedback. If you pretend, you will not sound convincing and subsequently loose your credibility. If your non-verbal cues match with your spoken words they impart clarity and trust to your words. People read your thoughts and judge you by your behavior and attitude. What they see is more important to them than what they hear. Great communicators never overlook the emotions and feelings of their audience. They value the power of non-verbal communication and implement it in their speech and action. This helps them to  be popular among both the elite and the masses. Their confidence reigns supreme as they are well equipped to read the mind of their audience. Leaders are not born, they are made. What makes one a leader is the ease, poise and conviction with which they communicate. In fact, leaders communicate more without words than with them.

If you go beyond the spoken words and touch the heart of your people , you will emerge victorious in all your endeavors.

“I never lose , I either win or learn”

Go win the world, be a leader!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Written Communication

So what is holding you back to write? A pen and paper, a note pad or a desktop or laptop is just what you need to start your writing workshop. Begin now, right away , do not delay.  Well  yes, it is easier said than done.  If you want to know how then read on…

Written Communication is the most reliable source of communication as it puts on record your idea, message or information. Once a message is recorded it acquires higher credibility. The written message may be encoded in the form of letters, journals,  business reports, e-mails, research papers, books , blogs, articles or magazines. Written communication holds great significance  in educational institutions, corporate communication and government offices. No school, college, office or organisation can run without using written form of communication. Even in settling disputes, resolving conflicts or dealing with legal issues, written communication plays an important role.

Imagine how difficult it would be to connect with your pupil, colleagues, customers and clients in the absence of written channels of communication like notices, circulars, e-mails, letters, journals, books or magazines. All these channels thrive on the art of writing. Writing is an activity which will never leave you no matter how much you avoid using it.  Whether writing for school or college education or drafting a resume for career communication or later preparing project reports or business reviews for office submissions or writing briefs for press or media, advertising etc, writing is an inescapable task. You just cannot survive without executing your written skills.

So what is holding you back to write? A pen and a paper, a note pad or a desktop or laptop is just what you need to start your writing workshop. Begin now, right away , do not delay.  Well  yes, it is easier said than done.  If you want to know how then read on…

Writing is a four step process. Follow the 4P’s of writing to achieve clarity in your communication:

Step 1- Planning– This includes identification of purpose, audience and topic. Planning also involves identification of resources for collecting information, reading and researching to gather knowledge on your topic.

Step 2- Preparation- This includes techniques of ideation like brainstorming and mind-mapping.  They further help in preparing a rough draft and defining a framework and structure for your writing. This allows free flow of ideas and provides a platform to express yourself.

Step 3- Writing- This is the actual stage of writing which involves organizing and evolving ideas into a complete write-up. This stage divides the writing into three distinct parts –

a. The Introduction b. Body of the draft c. Conclusion

Step 4- Post writing-  This final stage comprises of editing and revising your document. Editing helps rectify errors and eliminate unnecessary information. Proofreading is must to ensure that your document is free of linguistic , grammatical and textual errors.

Writing  well is not restricted to knowing the process. There are certain elements that make your writing crisp and clear. If you want to master the art of writing then you must follow the Six Golden Rules of Successful Writing given here:

Rule 1: Begin by asking the WH-Questions- Who, What, When, Where, How

Rule 2: Keep in mind the interest of the reader: Adopt the ‘You Attitude’. You attitude is the approach wherein the focus is on ‘You’ the reader’ rather than ‘I’ the writer.

Rule 3: Follow the ABC of writing, where A stands for ‘Accuracy’, B for ‘Brevity’ and C for ‘Clarity’. Direct approach, simple language and correct grammar will never fail to appeal the reader.

Rule 4: Apply the KISS formula that is,’ Keep it Short and Simple’– Time is precious, value the time of your reader by creating short meaningful messages. Avoid repetitions, long winding sentences and irrelevant details.

Rule 5: Substantiate your writing with examples and illustrations: Examples impart authenticity to your words. People easily relate to stories, anecdotes , figures or statistics. Examples help to reinforce the idea.

Rule 6: Be considerate– Your writing should reflect social and cultural sensitivity. Respect your reader. Use a language that is unbiased and dignified. Refrain from Ethnocentrism and stereotyping.

Originality and freshness are always in demand.

Be original, start writing now…

“You fail only if you stop writing”

(Ray Bradbury)

 

 

Read to Learn, Learn to Read

Having discussed the many benefits of reading , the chief concern here is how to develop reading skills. Reading demands self-discipline and sincerity. One needs to set aside  reading hour in the daily time- table and follow the routine religiously. What you read may not be restricted to or limited to any one area, field or genre. You can select any theme or topic that interests you.

People both young and old are frequently heard complaining, “Reading is so boring”, ” It’s such a waste of time”. We look for short cuts and quick notes to prevent ourselves from the mundane task of reading the full text.  We rely on summaries and precis just a day before an examination, interview or a presentation. Yes, in a world hard pressed for time and where everything is made available at the press of a button, who would prefer to read a book/blog/magazine or devote time to read.

Reading is the source of  abundant knowledge,  information and even aesthetic pleasure. Reading is an opportunity to explore the unexplored, to unlock the doors of novel ideas and distinct viewpoints. Reading not only widens the horizons of understanding but also triggers your imagination and creativity. Reading is the best vocabulary building exercise. There is no better way to develop your word power than to read. Reading improves comprehension and lays the foundation for strong communication skills.  It gives you ideas for public speaking. Reading makes you worldly wise.

Having discussed the many benefits of reading , the chief concern here is how to develop reading skills. Reading demands self-discipline and sincerity. One needs to set aside  reading hour in the daily time- table and follow the routine religiously. What you read may not be restricted to or limited to any one area, field or genre. You can select any theme or topic that interests you. News , Literature, sports, fashion, entertainment or politics, you can identify any stream of your liking but never skip your reading session. Based on your objective of reading, reading can be classified into four main types

  1. Aesthetic reading– to read for pleasure, which may include story, drama, poetry , fiction or entertainment
  2. Reading for information– to get the gist of the content
  3. Reading for meaning-to read and comprehend the writer’s viewpoint
  4. Reading for knowledge– to comprehend the writer’s message and critically analyse the content to frame and express ones opinion

Once you are in the habit of reading you will find it easier to concentrate on details If you have a clear and well defined objective than it will be simpler to apply the right technique of reading.  On the basis of reading objective, the techniques may be classified broadly  into four types:

  1. Aesthetic reading- Extensive reading technique-It can be read at leisure and there can be a slow and relaxed pace.
  2. Reading for information- Skimming and scanning- are the two techniques which can be applied for seeking quick information. They are rapid reading techniques. Skimming is reading rapidly in order to get a general overview of the material. Scanning is reading rapidly in order to find specific facts.
  3. Reading for meaning- SQ3R technique is an effective reading strategy for academic reading or reading for comprehension  SQ3R ( SQRRR- Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review) was introduced by Francis P. Robinson, an American education philosopher in his 1946 book Effective Study.
  4. Reading for knowledge- Critical reading: It involves logical and rhetorical skills. It is slow and attentive reading which focuses on the language, structure and meaning of the text. Highlighting main points, making notes or keeping a record journal are essential to this technique. It equips the reader to differentiate between fact and opinion. Further it enables the reader to formulate his responses and critically evaluate the text. Critical reading is a process of analyzing the text, looking for evidence and then drawing inferences based on ones interpretation and understanding.

Reading will not happen overnight. It is a gradual process which requires persistence and regularity. So go slow but go steady. Take one step at a time. Begin with things that interest you, topics that fascinate you, themes that entice you, authors that captivate you. Let reading be your passion. Read, read , read whenever you have time. Once you start having fun with your reading, there will be no looking back.

Keep reading…don’t miss the fun!

 

 

 

Are You Listening?

 People speak because they trust you. People speak to share their ideas, express their opinion. They value you as a listener. It is our responsibility to value them as speakers. Do not break their trust. Do not show distrust. Listen to people with open mind and see the change you  will experience in your communication. Be a valuable listener. You will always be in demand.

Are you listening or waiting to speak?

“The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”, observed the father of modern drama Sir George Bernard Shaw. People speak to be heard and understood.  People speak because they trust you. People speak to share their ideas, express their opinion. They value you as a listener. It is our responsibility to value them as speakers. Do not break their trust. Do not show distrust. Listen to people with open mind and see the change you  will experience in your communication. Be a valuable listener. You will always be in demand.

Most people give a miss to what others say. People listen either superficially or partially. As a matter of fact the faculty of listening is often confused with the ability to hear. ‘Listening’ is completely different from ‘hearing’. While hearing is an involuntary action, listening is a voluntary process. One can control, filter and command this process. Listening is a conscious exercise which demands attention and practice.

Communication is a two way process. It is said to be complete only when the receiver receives the message and offers a feedback to the sender. The feedback ensures the completion of the process. The listener can evoke an appropriate response only if he displays effective listening skills.

What qualities enable one to be an  effective listener?

  • Sensitive and sympathetic attitude
  • Respect for the speaker
  • Listening beyond the spoken words
  • Listening to respond not to react

Indifference, lack of interest, impatience, ego and disrespect are the primary barriers to effective listening.

How listening can help you become a good communicator?

Well, God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen more and speak less.  The reality is that though we struggle hard to speak and express ourselves we rarely make an effort to lend a sympathetic ear. Listening makes you aware of the needs, interest and feelings of the people around you. Good speakers are naturally good listeners. They build their knowledge  of the universe based on their observations of what people think, how people behave and what people want. If you know your people , you will improve your relationship with them, you will win more customers , you will have more followers, Above all you will be happy and contended.

Here are few important tips to evolve your listening skills:

  • Take interest in what others have to say
  • Be sensitive, do not be critical
  • Appreciate and accept the difference in opinion
  • Do not argue, do not counter, offer constructive feedback
  • Listen to act not to react
  • Overcome your ego. Others have a point too

Hope you are listening. There is so much to be heard.

Sharpen your ears!

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Are You Shy of Public Speaking?

There is no magic potion that you could drink and watch the magical words spill out of your mouth even as you could hypnotize the listener with your oratorical charm. However there are tested and proven practices that can nurture your skills and help you overcome your qualms.

So while there is no secret formula, there are simple things that you could follow to overcome your fears.  I call it ‘ My Rule of 9’.

Remember the last time when you were to deliver a presentation before an audience or the time you kept praying silently , Lord save me just one more time , please call off the session before the next turn is mine! Cracked voice , shaky legs , sweating palms  when would this nightmare end?Did your ever land yourself up in a similar situation?

Do you refrain yourself from sharing your views  in public for fear of being ridiculed? If yes, then probably you are a shy speaker. But don’t you worry you are not alone.Most of us are victims of self imposed fears and restrictions.  In fact, according to famous writer Ralph Waldo Emerson “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”  You are no less, prepare yourself today to be the best tomorrow.

Speaking is a natural gift to us humans. We are the only creatures who can speak up our mind and articulate our emotions through spoken words. While speaking comes naturally to us, public speaking is an art which needs to be cultivated.  Whether you are a manager, a doctor, an engineer, an educator or a student at one point of time or the other you would be required to attend  business meets, conferences,  participate in personal interviews, deliver  presentations or address formal gathering.  How then to overcome the fear of public speaking?

There is no magic potion that you could drink and watch the magical words spill out of your mouth even as you could hypnotize the listener with your oratorical charm. However there are tested and proven practices that can nurture your skills and help you overcome your qualms.

So while there is no secret formula, there are simple things that you could follow to overcome your fears.  I call it ‘ My Rule of 9’. Read and discover the hidden speaker in you by practicing the following simple tricks:

Here we go…

  1. First thing first ; stop playing safe: Come out of your shell, be brave. Rehearsing in front of the mirror is no good until you climb the stage.
  2. Speak ; there is no alternative: Read , read read Yes! Of what use if you never speak.  I would suggest, “Converse, converse and converse” as Bacon , the great Renaissance essayist said, Conference makes a ready man”. Reading enhances knowledge but it is the conversations that empower your speech.
  3. Speak to be understood, not to impress: Do not stress yourself to demonstrate your knowledge, rather try to express yourself in  simple, clean, clear and crisp language.  Avoid jargon and cliche to easily connect with your audience.
  4. Have faith: They say ” To err is human to forgive divine”. Close your eyes and believe in the divinity of your audience. This will help reduce much of your anxiety
  5. Love your subject: If you love your subject you will certainly work hard to know more about it, the more you know on your topic, the better you are.
  6. Remember communication operates at two levels: logical and emotional- Speak your mind but touch your listeners heart. Persuade your listener by appealing to his logic and emotions.
  7. Be genuine, be yourself: Audience appreciate originality of thought and expression. Just be the way you are. Affectation in speech, accent and style is more sinful than what you could imagine.
  8. Be confident and cheerful: Do not look apologetic for not being the best. Indeed your are the best! Nothing is more infectious than your self-confidence. Radiate confidence , it will boomerang. Positive body language and a smiling countenance are your priced possessions. Use them to your advantage
  9.  Don’t be Shy; take a leap: The world is waiting to hear you ; What are you waiting for?

   Take a leap…

 

 

 

 

 

Shy speaker???

Be outgoing critics…