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This is How you can Listen, Rather than just Hear

Theoretically, we know that listening and hearing are two different words, that they mean different things. However, the fact that…
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Theoretically, we know that listening and hearing are two different words, that they mean different things. However, the fact that this key difference can make or break a conversation eludes most of us. In our continuing series on how to listen effectively, today I bring you insights into one of the LearnEd teaching modules. The difference between hearing and listening lies in the process that one follows when dealing with sound stimuli.

Simply put, we hear the sound of the traffic, but we listen to someone speaking to us. We hear the sound of the fridge in the kitchen, but we listen for the pressure cooker whistle. However, when the sounds of the fridge sounds abnormal and we go to check on it, we have listened to it. Let’s break this down further, see what this process of listening entails:

The process of Listening follows as such:

Hearing: This is when we receive raw data; the sound of someone’s voice, the sounds from a TV or a voice on the radio. We hear this data and it enters our sound canal, as the first step of the process of listening.

Selecting: This step includes the choosing of which stimulus you want to react to, and what you want to do with it. In a kitchen full of noises, when you select to listen to the pressure cooker, that is an example of this step.

Attending: When we choose to focus on a selected stimulus and attend to it, we are at the third step of the listening process. You decide to give your focused attention to a person speaking to you.

Understanding: When we listen carefully, we understand with focus what the other person is saying, and we assign meaning to the sounds that we are processing. We decipher their verbal and non-verbal cues and find a meaning to the context.

Evaluating:We often say that not everything is spoken out loud. That particular idea resides in this step of the process. Here, we analyse what is being said, interpret what lies behind the meaning and clearly judging what is being implied.

Remembering: This is an interesting step. When we listen, we rely heavily on our memory to make connections, trying to understand if what we’re listening to is related  some way to something we already know, or if it is a fresh topic altogether.It helps us contextualise what we know and what we are taking in.

Responding: Once we make all the connections, analyse what has been said, when then choose how to respond best, essentially giving feedback to what we have listened to.

Steps 1 and 7 are just hearing and responding, however, when steps 2-6 are incorporated, we listen.Without the entire flow, we are merely hearing things. What is fascinating about this entire process is that, in an ideal situation, all seven steps occurs in a second of hearing something! For most people though, we hear 100% of what is said, process only 50% of it, and respond to just 25%. When there is a break in any of the steps mentioned, a break in listening occurs, which we know as “communication gap” or “miscommunication”.

If you think that you are absolutely not used to thinking and listening in this way, worry no more! This process doesn’t have to come naturally hardwired into your brain. With conscious thought and enough practice, it is possible to cultivate this process in your everyday listening and communication. At LearnEd, we dedicate a lot of time to doing just that with our clients. After all, communication is just as much about listening as it is about speaking.

Is There Such a Thing as WhatsApp Etiquette?

Whatsapp has become everyone’s favourite app on their phones. So much so that we now find it quite strange when…
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Whatsapp has become everyone’s favourite app on their phones. So much so that we now find it quite strange when someone says they are not on Whatsapp. With this kind of popularity, it is only normal to expect an entire communication culture to evolve around the app. No wonder then, that we tend to often get annoyed at (or annoy others) with some behavior while communication on such messaging apps. Here’s a quick list of guidelines that might make you champ at polite, but effective communication on Whatsapp:

Now! Now! Now!:

This is one the biggest issues we face when using whatsapp. As soon as we send a message, we expect a reply. If we don’t get an immediate response, we send another message right away. If you need an urgent response on something important, please call the person. At the same time, if someone messages you and you have the time to see the notification, do try and send an acknowledgment of it, if not a full-fledged response. Whatsapp is not a replacement for face to face conversations, so don’t expect it to work at the same pace.

Emojis!:

When my friends text me without using any emoticons, I worry and ask them if everything is okay, or why they sound so serious. Emojis have become so integral to our conversation habits that we find talk without slightly less effective, on text. However, sense dictates the emojis may be a language by themselves, however, they cannot overtake text. Please limit the usage of emojis, and eliminate them altogether from serious or formal conversations (better still, don’t use whatsapp for formal communication). Emojis add to emotion of your words for sure, but don’t substitute them for the words!

tYpE!

Consistency in language and wording, even on text, will help you develop a distinct conversation identity. Try to use proper spelling and punctuations. Short forms and condensing words made sense at a time when texts weren’t free and thus we reduced the length. Now, whatsapp is free, hence there really is no excuse to typ lyk dis. Along with this, it makes far more sense to talk the talk in one message, rather than sending just one word or one phrase in one message, and bothering someone with multiple notifications for just one sentence. Consistency in communication will take you a long way.

Ungrouping the Groups:

Whatsapp groups are a cause of anxiety for so many people. While most groups start out with a very specific purpose, they soon start getting spammed. Especially when it comes to work-groups, stick only to the agenda of the group. Not everyone will appreciate your forwards, so choose your audience wisely. Also, if you are having a conversation with just one person on a group, it is wise to move it to your personal chat, so as to not swamp everyone else with notifications and messages. Be respectful of others.

Navigating conversations is tricky enough in real life. When conversing through a phone screen, things just tend to get more confusing, as you don’t non-verbal cues such as body language and expressions to help you, neither do you have voice and tone. Thus, keep your conversations under the broad guidelines we have listed above, and you will soon become everyone’s favourite texter!

English: The Demon in your Office

How often have you have hesitated when talking to your co-workers, or your managers, or worse, with your clients, in…
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How often have you have hesitated when talking to your co-workers, or your managers, or worse, with your clients, in English? Over the last few weeks, we at LearnEd have constantly been talking of how knowledge of English can give you an edge over others when it comes to gaining and nurturing employment. Conversely, not having an able hand at communicating in English can often put you out of sight with recruiters and bosses alike, and may even lead you to feel under-confident about your other skills.

With this post, we aim to delineate the areas at work wherein confident, correct usage of English is often expected, and will help you reach a desired outcome more easily. When working on improving your language ability and communication skills, keep these in mind, and they will act as your personal training guide!

Expression of Ideas: At any office, you will be expected to be an active part of brainstorming sessions, one-on-one discussions and even casual conversations about how to move your company, product or service forward in a pre-planned direction, both analytically and creatively. This requires you to have good ideas and questions, but that talent will lay in the back-burner, unless you know how to convey it. This is even more important when you are  making presentations. Language ability will help you put forth your ideas in a clear and succinct manner. Good communication strategy will help you pick up on what is the kind of person that you are speaking to, and how to lay your points across in a way that it will make the most impact on that particular personality, whether they are your seniors, colleagues or juniors.

Telephonic Conversations: This one is a tricky spot. For a lot of us, not physically being in the same space as the person we are conversing with, in a language that we aren’t comfortable with, is a good thing. It helps that we can prepare in advance. I had an uncle who would even write down how to greet the person he was calling, on a sheet of paper before he actually called, to give him more clarity on his conversations. Phone calls can help you reduce the nervousness of face-to-face conversations that might lead to mistakes for you. However, the flip side is that phone calls also mean less of an emotional connection, hence you will need to employ just the right words and emotions to get your task done. Thus language ability and strategy can take you ahead by leaps and bounds in this case.

Feedback:  At any level of work, you are going to need to give clear instructions, and receive them too. Only then can you carry out what is expected of you or expect someone else to carry out what you wish to be done. Over the course of time, your work will be measured not just in its outcome, but also in the way you record and talk about it. The outcome itself too, in fields such as marketing, sales, hospitality etc will depend on your communication. Performance reviews are often communication-based too. This is true for both Indian and international clients.

These are just the broad categories underneath which communication at your workplace can be categorised. If you felt the pinch while reading any or all of us, know that you are not alone. Know that you are not as badly off as you think, and know that you are already on a learning curve. Get to the top of that curve now, and contact LearnEd to combat all your communication fears, today!

Here’s the Trick to an Effective Communication Path

For the past two weeks, we have been talking how to make the most of what we hear, as well…
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For the past two weeks, we have been talking how to make the most of what we hear, as well how to go from just hearing, to actually listening impactfully. We think that it is very easy to hear something and not react, but to listen to someone, empathise, analyse and react takes much more of an effort. Last week, we spoke about how the process of listening involves seven steps. This week, lets deep-dive into a LearnEd class to learn how to follow a path of effective communication.

There are four stages that you go through, when following this path:

1.Listen  2. Understand  3. Interpret  4. Act

Listening involves, as mentioned, a 7-step process. These steps imply that you hear raw data, then you select if you want to react to it, to which part of it. After this selection, you focus on that particular stimulus. Once you do so, your brain assigns meaning to what you are listening to, analysing it.This step leads to judging what the situation in front of you is. You also stop here to see if there is any memory association so far, if the matter at hand is connected to something that you already know or not. After all these considerations, you decide to respond to it.

Understanding takes a major section of the work when trying to communicate effectively. Understanding what is being said to you means taking in all the information fully, assigning meaning and context to all the elements of the conversation, both verbal and non-verbal. You process everything that you listen to, and this helps you decide how to respond to the stimulus.

Following understanding, interpretation is the trickiest bit of the path. When we interpret an idea based on what we have listened to and understood, we start predicting the outcome, as well as our response. You begin by building credibility by citing your past experiences, also form an emotional connection by connecting over the particular matter at hand. And depending on the situation, you may even appeal directly to their sense of logic and reasoning. LearnEd’s clients know this as using their Ethos, Pathos and Logos skills – as Aristotle first taught us. Selecting which communication strategy to use in what situation may often be a make or break decision for the conversation!

Finally, after following this path, you act on the decision you have taken, by taking the conversation forward, using a particular strategy to deepen your connection.

We often judge the situation before even interpreting it. Following this particular path of communication will, firstly, make you proactive instead of reactive. Secondly, it will give you a much sharper chance at getting the conversation to a desired outcome, getting your point across more effectively. Contact LearnEd today to understand how to apply this path in your conversations, and make your business and social life so much easier!

Combating the Fear of a Phone Call

All my life, I have always tried to pick conversations over email or text where possible, as compared to phone…
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All my life, I have always tried to pick conversations over email or text where possible, as compared to phone calls, especially at work. I feel fairly comfortable in face-to-face conversations, but other than that, phone calls worry me to no end. The idea of having to know exactly what to say, without being able to see how the other person reacts terrifies me. This meant that I was usually scared whenever my phone rang at work. Is this a problem for you too? Does the prospect of phone calls, that too in English, petrify you? If it does, here are the ways that I figured out how to deal with the fears better:

Preparation:

It always helps me to figure out what it is that I need to say before I make a call. You can either do this on a piece of paper, or mentally, if you’re confident about it. As with any formal conversation, a clear agenda will keep your conversation precise and easy to navigate. It will also give you a road-map in case any tangents come up.

Remember your manners:

One of the big drawbacks of a phone conversation is that you can’t see the other person. So when you are speaking with someone you don’t know well, it may make it a bit difficult to understand whether they are being curt, impolite or just to the point. Facial expressions usually cue us into that. On call, listen properly, and when speaking, be as polite as you can. A please here and a thank you there will go a long way in getting a successful conversation outcome for you.

Questions are good:

There is no shame in asking the other person to repeat what they said if you couldn’t hear or understand it clearly. A lot of us just nod or hope to figure out what was said by the context of the rest of the conversation, and feel scared in asking the other person to repeat what they said. Even if you are used to listening to English, phone lines can be tricky, so do not worry about asking the other person to repeat or go slow. Use phrases such as “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that- would you please repeat it for me? Thanks!”. Similarly, speak slowly, spell out important details where you need to, to ensure that there is no miscommunication.

Salutations and Regulations:

If you know whether your phone call is formal or informal, use language accordingly. When you take a formal call, use a full introduction, such as “Hi, my name is ….” instead of saying “Hi this is …” or “… here”. If you’re calling someone whose schedule you don’t know, ask if this is a good time to speak. A small detail like that will immediately make the other person more receptive. When you end the call, always wish them a good day- no matter if they’re your senior, a junior or just an associate.

After a lot of practice, I realised that phone calls are not as tricky as I initially felt they are, but I hope these little ideas can help you as well, along with the practice. Are there any other problems you face, when communicating in English at work? Write to team LearnEd in the comments section and we will help you out!

VIEW POST Body Language: How Does It Matter?

Ever since we were in school, our parents and teachers have told us to sit up, backs straight, shoulders squared…
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Ever since we were in school, our parents and teachers have told us to sit up, backs straight, shoulders squared and look up. These instructions follows us to our offices as well. We are constantly told to watch our body language when interacting with other. Is it fact, though? Is body language as important as everyone makes it out to be?

Yes. The answer is yes. In fact, social scientists state that verbal messaging, or words, only make up for about 7% of a conversation. The rest is more about the tone and other non-verbal elements, Body language makes up for nearly 50% of the meaning that is conveyed! With this kind of weight on what our body language says, it is only natural that we pay a bit more attention to learning some ways to ace it.

With that in mind, we bring to you an engaging TED Talk by Amy Cuddy here. Amy Cuddy is an American social psychologist who has studied and written about body language extensively. After completing her own studies, Cuddy taught at institutes such as Rutgers University, Northwestern University, and Harvard Business School.

The interesting angle to this particular TED Talk is that she doesn’t just talk about what impact your body language has on another person or what impact someone’s body language has on you. She instructs the listeners to understand their own body language, and examines how changing your posture or certain mannerisms about yourself can impact you as well. Her ideas about the ‘Power Pose’ focus on how ‘faking’ a confident stance physically can actually build more confidence in you. A lot of scientists have debated the same, but there is no denying the impact it seems to have in the audience and in her students.

There are a lot of tricks to perfecting your communication skills, and through this video, the team at LearnEd is bringing to you yet another one. Explore, attempt and practice regularly, and you will also master confidence when it comes to communication, both inside and out!

Best Ways to Listen Better

Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing many ways to understand the difference between hearing and listening. We…
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Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing many ways to understand the difference between hearing and listening. We spoke about what the process of listening implies, and brought to you glimpse of a LearnEd class with our    Effective Communication Path. This is an example of  formulas  that our educators at LearnEd follow when working with clients on effective communication strategies. Our educators also bring in real-world examples and stories to help clients internalize and understand these formulas while giving a lot of practice routines to move closer to mastery.Here’s one of our favorite TED Talk videos that we find useful and effective.

Julian Treasure is a communications expert. His work deals with how to make someone better at listening, and hence better at conversing with the world around them. While all of his Ted Talks and books are a treasure trove of information, lets deep-dive into just one of them for this post. Take a few minutes and listen to the talk here.

The talk focuses on ways in which one can consciously retune their hearing in order to listen more meaningfully. In the previous posts in this series on the LearnEd Blog, we have detailed how to modify your process of listening in order to achieve the same results. He talks about patterns such as distancing, wherein our brain automatically distinguishes a continuous sound as noise and wipes it out of what we register as hearing. A fascinating part of this talk focuses on filters – how the filters of culture, values, attitude, expectation and more alter the way we perceive and listen to others.

Not only does he use extremely simple terms to help us understand what he wants to say, he also does it in a humorous way. The use of real examples from his own life, live trials with the studio audience and their reactions make the talk very engaging and informative.

At LearnEd, our goal is to practice such techniques and help you discover your latent communication strategy, just as Julian does all over the world. Contact us now for more resources like this.

Ace your Next Presentation at Work!

No matter how good we are at our jobs, when it comes to presenting our ideas or our work, we…
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No matter how good we are at our jobs, when it comes to presenting our ideas or our work, we sometimes falter. I personally often think it would be easier if I had the option to write out my ideas in a mail, rather than explain them to my colleagues in person, because that flusters me. So when our clients express the same fears, trust us, we do too! In order to help you on your way, this week at LearnEd’s blog is about how to squash your fears when it comes to spoken presentations.In this first part, here are our top tips on how to prepare for the perfect presentation:

Clarity and Research:

No one likes to speak for longer than they have to, and no one likes to listen to people ramble. When you have been given a clear agenda, plan accordingly. Write out what the requirement that has been given to you is, and what it is that you intend to say. Even if you need to make a Powerpoint presentation to go with what you have to say, write these out beforehand. It will help you understand what your point is, and how to structure the flow of the entire presentation. A little clarity and some research will take you a long way in making efficient use of your time, and in giving you confidence. Work thoroughly on what your idea is, and on ensuring that you get that across as directly as possible.

Listen to Other Speakers:

This may sound silly, but pay attention during other presentations- not just on what people are saying, but also on how they are saying it. Listening attentively will gradually help you figure out why certain speakers are making more of an impact than others. It will help you pick up small tips on what to do and what not to do when you’re in the speaker’s position, and will help you prepare for the listeners’ reactions accordingly.

Prepare for Questions:

A good presentation often puts people in a Catch-22 situation (don’t know what that reference means? Go on, look it up). If you’re good at what you’re saying, you will invite engagement from the listeners, including questions, and that can sometimes make you feel as if the information you gave earlier is incomplete. Not to mention, it would need for you to speak in an impromptu manner. To avoid this worry, when you are writing our your presentation, prepare for questions that you anticipate. This will have you take a more rounded approach towards your topic, and will help you prepare for new situations, thus making you less frazzled when fielding questions from colleagues or seniors.

Practice! Practice! Practice!:

This one is the most obvious, and yet the most overlooked. Sometimes we feel overconfident, and sometimes we feel so underconfident that we think practicing will just make it worse. However, nothing will make you feel right about a good presentation at work the way practice will. Find a supportive colleague or two whom you can trust to help you out, and if not, practice by yourself. A good rehearsal, even if it is just the one, will help you calm your nerves, and it will help you remember the flow of things. Hard work and smart work both fail if one doesn’t know where to take a breath, and preparing yourself beforehand will allow you to sort yourself out immediately!

That’s all from Team LearnEd on how to prepare for a presentation. Keep your eyes peeled for the second part of this post, where we share tips on how to sail smoothly during the actual presentation!

New Year, New Learning!

By now, chances are that you’ve been flooded with every possible variant of a happy new year message that exists…
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By now, chances are that you’ve been flooded with every possible variant of a happy new year message that exists on Whatsapp, Facebook and all other platforms. I’d still like to take a moment and make this worth your while – Happy 2019 to you and yours! May this year bring you lots of happiness, success and new learnings! While new year resolutions are a bit of a cliche for me, I do believe in setting some goals that I try to accomplish during the year, goals to get something done, to achieve something, to let go of something or to learn something!

This first month of the new year, this is what I strive to learn. As a child, I was always a lazy student who left studies and homework until the absolute last day. This meant that I had become a champion at memorising bulks of information, but actually understanding none of it. My father realised this and set me two everyday tasks, hoping to turn them into habits for me. The first of these was to write down one multiplication table every day, and the second was to look up five new words in a dictionary and write down their meanings. While the multiplication tables failed to do their magic, the dictionary became a rather close ally to me. I’d look forward to learning new words every day and showing them off to my classmates the next day. This continued for a few years in school, and the results started showing, at least in my English exams. Of course, after a while, I became complacent and let go of the habit, but I still believe that this everyday exercise played a significant part in my vocabulary building. It introduced me to new words in a self-guided method, and my new learning propelled me to practice it every day too. This new year, I think I want to kickstart this habit all over again. New words every day, if not from a dictionary, then from a book or article that I’m reading, but I do want to actively work on my English and vocabulary skills. After all, one can never know enough words, right?

Would you want to adopt this method too? Write in to us in the comments section or contact us via our website and we can even practice together! If you’re afraid to start alone, contact us know and pick up our Accelerator programs for guided everyday practice with our internationally trained language and communication experts. Let’s make 2019 the year when we all take a huge leap forward in our communication and English abilities!

Are you “employable?”

Getting a great college placement and then getting job success are both directly related to your “employability.” If you are…
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Getting a great college placement and then getting job success are both directly related to your “employability.” If you are in specific industries such as manufacturing or pharmaceuticals, you will need to think about this even more carefully. That’s because there is a higher possibility for career growth compared to other industries. 

After surveying over three hundred students and newly placed candidates, we know for a fact that your soft skills, plus your English communication for speaking and writing in many important situations, and your emotional intelligence or attitude play the most crucial role in career success.  

It will surprise you to know that the development of these very important skills was has been neglected in our higher education system. Most college graduates worry about how to do well in an interview, interview skills in other words because they know that most employers today consider them as a top requirement to get a job. They also worry about how to prepare for placement and what it is that will make an impression on the recruiter. 

On the other hand, most new hires worry about how they will gain the trust of their supervisors and create more growth opportunities for themselves in their current job. 

The CBI/Pearson Education & Skills report, published in November 2018, highlighted the following: Around four in ten (43%) rate readiness for work as one of their three most important considerations. Indeed, it ranks as the single most important factor for almost half (45%) of businesses when recruiting school and college leavers.

Thus, very often then we are asked what employability skills mean. Many people are still under the false impression that it means having a strong CV or resume and having good interview skills. We are not discounting the importance of these, but they form a very small part of the big picture! From our twenty years of experience in the education and coaching field, we know that at the heart of the big picture are employability skills like strong communication and other personal attributes like being a team player, shouldering responsibility, leadership qualities and the like and it is these attributes that enable you to be successful in life.

While your technical skills may get your foot in the door, your people skills are what open most of the doors to come. Your work ethic, your attitude, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence and a whole host of other personal attributes are the soft skills that are crucial for career success.

With the world moving fast towards online learning, we’d like to invite you to join our 5-day course on “Precise Writing for Pharma Industry”. 

Be a forerunner amongst your peers and upskill yourself. Join our Webinar on April 3rd, Friday at 9 PM IST. Webinar attendees will also receive a valuable early-bird discount on our upcoming online courses!

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