What We Talk About When We Talk About Communication

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When I grow up, I always imagined myself to be a technical person. Or someone who does not need to communicate much. For example, a coder or an analyst. Where the communication skills that I need are for simple documentations or presenting my finding to my colleagues. Perhaps the reason behind is because I was always a quiet kid in class. I might have also been one of the youngest in class as my birthday is quite late in the year. Thus, I did not feel right to take the initiative to act as a leader, nor I wanted to.

Even up to the end of my first year in Waterloo, studying Computing and Financial Management. I forecasted myself to be either a software developer (coder) or a financial analyst. The course that I have taken in the first year did not emphasize much on group work, in fact, math and computer science courses prohibited teamwork. In some aspect, experiences in the first year have given me the impression that things will be similar in the workplace, where I will tackle problems on my own. However, my thoughts have changed after two co-op work terms.

My first coop term did not have a huge focus on group work. Although there were 20 co-op students in the team, yet everyone was assigned their own tasks and collaboration among each other were minimal. This changed slightly near the end of the term where the client of the project that I oversaw had a change of request and all other coop students were assigned to my project to meet the deadline. I took this opportunity as a learning experience to manage people. At the end, I had not only utilized the resources to deliver the project on time but also planted a leadership seed in myself.

The seed germinated in my second work term as I had more opportunities to take part in teamwork environments, practice by leading projects and learning from outstanding leaders. Half way through my second co-op work term. I realized that I enjoy being a leader.

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As I lead the team of co-op students in my company. I found great interest in organizing events, coordinating teammates to accomplish tasks, report progress to senior supervisors and resolving conflicts among team members. As I observed from different directors in the company, I realized that great leadership skills are crucial to the team’s performance. In my opinion, a good leader should know each member’s strengths as well as weaknesses so that he or she can allocate the best talent for the given task. A good leader should also be able to promote cohesion within the team. In return, team members have a positive attitude towards work and are more efficient in the long run.

From a manager’s perspective, speech is a powerful tool to encourage workers and drive for Excelsis results. Decent communication skills can be handy when it comes to giving a pep talk or writing performance evaluation. Just like what you are doing right now, a properly written piece would attract you to finish the last line.

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