Communication; the pillar of modern society.
The purpose of this blog post is to demonstrate how exactly I have applied, or even improved, my communication skills in my IB subjects. So let’s get started.
Communication is a broad term. To complete the task of assessing my skills successfully, we must first look at what we define to be communication; with a quick Bing search (I’m just joking, I used Google), I discover that communication (noun) has more than one meaning:
- The imparting or exchanging of information or news.
- The means of connection between people or places, in particular.
I also discovered it comes from Latin, French and old English, and that its use has increased from the year 1950 by around 100%; but that is all beside the point.
Now, since I am supposed to talk about how ‘successful’ I was in improving communication, I had a look at what success is; how can we empirically measure it? I came to the conclusion that we can look at different issues and problems that occur with day to day communication, and see if I had overcome them. So;
Problem number 1:
The biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand; we listen to reply.
Now, why is that a problem? Well, because as we agreed in CORE, communication is the exchange of knowledge; and I hardly think that a one way stream of knowledge can be labeled as ‘exchange’. So have I overcome the problem?
I think so. I’ll let you be the judge of that. Firstly, there is Economics. We had to submit a proposal for our Internal Assignment. This required us to have a look on the Internet and find articles no more than a year old about market failure and write 750 words about how the government could intervene to prevent that from happening. We first had to submit the article, and Mr. Oldfield had to agree to us using it. Some people submitted one, maybe two; I submitted six. I started with one; it wasn’t that good. I submitted a second one which I thought was much better; still no good. It went like this for 4 submissions. I was then fed up, and asked Mr. Oldfield to explain. He had done so, and my next to articles were accepted.
At first, I just wanted to get it out off my way and focus on other things. But after actually listening to Mr. Oldfield and taking his advice, I got a perfect article (I would also like to point out it was written 353 days before my submission – I only just got into the one year time frame). Hence, I have listened to understand.
Problem Number 2:
Before you speak; think. Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?
Knowing what to say and when to say it is arguably one of the most important aspects of effective communication. Have I successfully tackled this problem? Yes, I think I did.
I like computers; a lot. I find them fascinating. Do you realize that there are electrons (which are the size of a fraction of the size of an atom, of which there are a couple of billion in the following full stop.), and they interact with each other trough logic gates which are able to do basic mathematical operations, and SOMEHOW all this translates into me writing this blog post? It’s nuts.
Logically, as a person who is interested in such things, I try to find out as much about them as I possibly can. This is why I use Linux. Without going into too many details, it is an operating system which is similar to OS X on your Apple device, in the fact that is it build on the same starting block – Unix. But it does not obscure ANY information. With simple commands using only the keyboard, one is able to look at the Kernel, also know as the very very very core of the operating system. The kernel makes everything work and tells everything what to do.
I take pride in using Linux, but sometimes I am met with disagreement from my classmates; there are those that don’t care (and that’s fine), there are those that find it cool (which leads to some interesting discussions – Marcus asked me to install it for him and show him around!) and then there are those that find me using Linux stupid (*cough* Prannay *cough*). He would always ask me why I use the inferior system and why don’t I just use something good; and at the start I didn’t blame him. Many people don’t know about Linux (despite the fact 60% of the world’s computers use it – all the servers and super computers, all the phones, etc.). And I explained it to him. And then I did again.
Everything I have said failed to convince Prannay. I understand there are different systems for different users, and everyone has their own preference; but I know that he will not change his opinion. I am sure of it.
Hence, I have reached the point where I realize that no matter what I say, it will not improve on the silence, and hence I say nothing – we would get nowhere. It is important to realize the different opinions people have, and respect those opinions.
This also relates to the different programming languages in Computer Science.
I started programming with Python, and have a soft spot for it – every time I see it on the board after the year 11 are done with their lesson, I get a warm feeling. Too bad we learn Java. Or that is what I thought at the start, but after getting used to it, I see the beauty of Java too. But there are people that didn’t see the beauty of it: Josh is the ‘CSS master’ and Marcus knows his HTML. I don’t really see the appeal of any of these languages, but I realize they are all important. The internet wouldn’t work without them the way it does now. This comes back to respecting the different opinions, and understanding different preferences – an important part of communication.
Problem Number 3:
One of the most pressing problems regarding communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
Going back to Computer Science and BERTHA, we need a web page. Marcus has volunteered to make us one for his Computer Science project, and he is using HTML. However, to design it, he must know exactly what is it we want. As BERTHA was starting, I didn’t really have the time to tell him all of that, and just asked him to brainstorm ideas. I thought he would get building a web page and then we would tell him what to change. But that piece of information wasn’t communicated well; or at all.
A week later, we got together, and spent around 30 minutes having a look at possible designs. Only then, when we were both aware of what it was we were communicating about and we were both ready to have that exchange of information, have we truly understood each other; he is working on the web page now!
Problem Number 4:
If you communicate, you can get by. If you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.
This goes back to my CAS project and BERTHA. As I was starting this project, I really wasn’t sure where it would go. I really wasn’t sure I’d get any support at all! But I was determined to at least give it my best shot. I started sending out emails, first to Mr. Thirkell and then to Mr. McClure; that was alright as Mr. McClure is my teacher and Mr. Thirkell is very involved with my other CAS projects. But as the project developed, I started sending email higher and higher in the school hierarchy. First Mr. Martindale, then Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Smith, then Mr. Harris and possibly Mr. Denis in a few days!
And I think I communicated effectively. I doubted I would get a separate room, and check us out now! I am getting computers, T-Shirts, planning assemblies, getting a budget, etc! I think if I have communicated, I’d get somewhere. But I feel like I did a good job at communicating, and I can see the outcomes.
I am not saying I am a perfect communicator – not at all. I do admit that I can be slightly (only slightly) stubborn. But I have improved, and I can see the results.
I could go on and on, but when I consult the Economic theory, I find that the Supply is equal to the Demand at the equilibrium point, and failing to achieve this equilibrium point is a market failure. And I don’t want to end this blog post with a failure; you have demanded and I have supplied.
This concluded my second core assessment. I will shortly write another blog post, especially after the residential and getting the budget.