Saturday, April 30, 2016

A-Z of Soft Skills: Z is for Zest

Back to the April A-Z.  It's Z day already! I'm going to miss the discipline of thinking and writing a new post every day.

Z is for Zest, a word that epitomises enthusiasm and energy in doing something. It is such a positive word, active and hopeful and happy--a good way to end the series, don't you think?

Like the other meaning of "zest," (remember, orange or lemon zest? the peel part of a citrus when shaved or grated and added to food?), this positive energy and enthusiasm adds an edge, a tang, a something special when it is added to your thoughts and activities.

Those who achieve greatness are reputed to have an inexhaustible supply of zest for life  or, as the French say, "joie de vivre."

Add some zest to everything you do. Think, feel and behave zestfully every day. It will change you.

Claude Shannon's 100th Birthday Post

image credit:
I was going to write my last April A-Z Challenge post, but then I got distracted by today's Google Doodle. It's Claude Shannon's 100th birthday and I just had to celebrate it.

I've taught Shannon and Weaver's communication model for years in my Business Communication classes. Shannon's A Mathematical Theory of Communication began a revolution in Information Theory and introduced the concept of "noise" in the communication channel.

Shannon, in collaboration with Warren Weaver, conceived of a transmission model of communication that was elegant in its simplicity and widely applicable to all forms of communication. 

Here's the model:

Shannon worked at Bell telephones and his original mathematical model was conceived for optimising information transmission over the telephone and later modified for general communication.

Say you're the source. The idea in your mind has to be "encoded" (into words, or pictures, or sounds or gestures) as a message and then "transmitted" via an appropriate "machine" (your voice box or a printer or a telephone handset) which translates your message into a signal (say, electrical in the case of the telephone or the printer) and passes it through a channel (in this case, air,) where there is always "noise" (any disturbance) that can distort the signal. The signal is received by another "machine" (your ear system or a printer or a telephone receiver). Of course, the receiving machine has to be compatible with the transmitting machine, otherwise the process won't work. The received signal is "decoded" back (into words, or pictures, or sounds or gestures) as it reaches its destination (the mind of the person you're sending the information to).

The original 1948 model did not have a feedback loop. This was added in 1951.

As a mathematician, Shannon was more information in the passing of "information." He admitted that he wasn't really concerned about the transmission of "meaning."

Shannon was also an inventor with a weird sense of humour. He once invented what he called "The Ultimate Machine." This machine did nothing. It just switched itself off if you switched it on!

Friday, April 29, 2016

A-Z of Soft Skills: Y is for being a "Yes! Sayer"

image credit:
Do note the exclamation after the word "Yes" and before the word "Sayer." That's not a typographical error. It is exactly what I want to say.

Be a Yes! sayer.

Many soft skills trainers and consultants want to teach you say "No." I agree that it's an important skill to learn. It is, however, easy to get the hang of saying "no" to things.

We humans are basically lazy and selfish beings and "no" suits us  wonderfully once we learn to get rid of the guilt and the desire to be "good" to  people so our image doesn't tarnish.

I say, unless you have a really good reason for saying no, say "Yes!"

Affirm life. Affirm life emphatically. Say Yes!
Accept what your life brings you. Accept it gratefully. Yes! 
Embrace new ideas. Don't let your knee-jerk "No" moment win. Say Yes! 
Surrender to the happiness of making someone's wishes come true. Say Yes! 
Feel the surge of power you when you try the undone. Say Yes! 
See insecurity and uncertainty disappear when you accept a challenge with a heartfelt Yes!

The author, Dr. Ranee Kaur Banerjee, is Managing Partner of Expressions@Work, a studio for the development of communication and soft skills.