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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.


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!


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!

From the Horse’s Mouth: Your English will Land You the Job You’ve Been Looking For

In a day and age where unemployment is on the rise, every debate finds its way around to the fact…
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In a day and age where unemployment is on the rise, every debate finds its way around to the fact that people are constantly looking for work, and often fail at finding it. Discussions have been aplenty, but no one really seems to have an answer as to why the job market is such a sinking pit.

With so much competition among candidates for every position, it becomes exceedingly important to give yourself an edge when it comes to your skills and abilities. Arming yourself with knowledge of your field and staying updated with current affairs is a must. However, along with this, it is equally important to sharpen your communication skills and soft skills. Companies all over the world are looking for smart-talkers, for people who can deftly make their point heard and who can talk to clients effectively. The need of the hour is people who can speak fluently in English, thus allowing a company to form a global presence. In fact, the Executive Director of the Malaysian Employers Federation, Shamsuddin Bardan, states this clearly: “Most of the jobs available require knowledge of English as you need to communicate with your clients or customers, especially in marketing and sales, which are normally the kind of jobs available now.When you don’t have that requirement, it’s very difficult for the employers to do anything.” The MEF’s report even states that 59% of their fresh applicants do not get hired because of their poor command of the English language. Don’t believe us? Read more here.

Not just in Malaysia, but in so many countries, a competent understanding of English is fast becoming a basic requirement. Britain’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, states that “the government wants people to learn the language so they can enjoy more of the benefits of living in the country, and so there is less resentment among others who expect them to make such an effort.” He also states this learning English “transformed the life” of his own mother too!

This isn’t just a story of other countries. In India too, the ability to communicate in English is a basic requirement. The Dean of IIT Madras, R. David Koilpillai explains, “Students must be able to communicate technical ideas clearly in interviews. Proficiency in spoken English gives confidence.” HR Managers also state that candidates with English skills above the local average stand out from the crowd and garner 30-50% higher salaries than similarly qualified candidates without English skills. You can read more about this situation here.

Armed with this knowledge of how more and more recruiters and companies are insisting on English and Soft Skills, would you still want to be left behind when it comes to advancing your career? Step up, today, and let LearnEd help you race to the top!

English: The Language of the Internet

Think back to the last time you went for a holiday or for work, away from your state or country.…
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Think back to the last time you went for a holiday or for work, away from your state or country. Do you remember the struggle to get across the most basic information, or the difficulty you faced when asking the simplest of questions? The fight to communicate with people in a place where you don’t speak the same language as them is a real one. Not only does it impede your communication with others, it will also make you feel extremely limited in your own ability to get anything done. Similarly, imagine being in a place where people from all the different parts of the world interact, but everyone speaks in their own language. Imagine the kind of standstill that will bring all interaction to. Enter reality, this is the Internet.

The fact is, in the middle of the vastness of the Internet, it is the English language that becomes a common denominator for most of us. Today, we can buy wares from a small seller in China, get tech advice from someone in Hong Kong, discuss hospitality with hotel owners in Greece, football with a fan in Spain and not once be worried about knowing their language. The internet has truly made the world into one small village, and through it, we can have conversations with people across the globe from us. This happens because most people use English on the internet. Be it Google, Facebook or news networks, English is the most commonly used language on the Internet. While translation softwares are available aplenty, most of them have English set in a a default conversion language.

In a world where globalisation rules the roost (do you know what that idiom means?),  the internet is the handiest of all tools for us. Whether we are studying, working at our own businesses, looking for jobs or for partnership opportunities, we utilise the internet. In a situation like this, sharp control over your usage of English and enhanced communication can easily make you stand apart from the crowd. Knowing how to write a succinct but impactful email, putting up an inviting advertisement, writing the correct product descriptions or merely responding to a query – each of these require good conversation intelligence and English fluency. English was the founding language of the Internet, and while most of it is coded in English, nearly 56% of all the information online is in English. This may seem like a small amount, but to put it in perspective, the next most used language is Russian, at 6%!

With as dense a concentration, a lack of English skills could really slow you down in comparison to others. If you too are looking to make it big through the internet, it is time to sharpen your language and communication skills. Your team at LearnEd is constantly on its toes to keep you updated with every way to sharpen your skills, at the speed of a click! Write to us today to see how we can help you!

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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!

Employ Empathy at your Office

I spent some time in our last post talking about how it is empathy in any business that can make…
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I spent some time in our last post talking about how it is empathy in any business that can make or break it. There are several studies that prove that consciously incorporating techniques to build empathy in the office can help significantly boost the employees’ as well as the business’ performance. How do we do that, though?

Danny Leffel, the CEO of the communications app CREW states “The empathy for the teams that you lead, empathy for the workers that are here, it’s such a shortcut in so many ways to being a more effective leader because you understand what’s going on and so I think that’s a really important quality.” Building individual and collective empathy can really build stronger teams, stronger products and happier clients. These are a few of our top tried and tested ways to build empathy in your office:

Individuals, not just groups: Whether you are in a leadership position at work, or you are dealing with customers, speak to your people as if they are individuals, not just a group of people for you to deal with. Use their names when talking to them, ask questions about them and what they need. Find small ways to appreciate them and connect with them. It may take a few minutes more of your time, but it will build connections and will give you more insights about them as well.

Listen: Okay I swear this isn’t just a way for me to plug in LearnEd’s previous blog posts on listening effectively, but one of the simplest ways to practice empathy is to listen to people around you. It will take a few minutes of your time, but it will build connections and will give you more insights about them as well. Let your colleagues know what they think matters.

I Understand: Acknowledging someone’s point of view or opinion before you try to say otherwise makes them more likely to listen to you. “I understand how you feel/I understand where you’re coming/I would have felt the same way” – beginning a sentence like this, even if you were to disagree after, will go a long way.

Be kind – in word and action: Don’t make assumptions about people. Everyone has their own struggles and showing a little kindness, especially when you are angry, can avert the biggest of disasters. If you wish for your boss to understand your situation better, you need to start doing the same for your boss, and eventually you’ll both find the common ground to be able to talk about the problem at hand. Communicate effectively without being harsh.  Give second chances as far as possible.

Empathy is not a golden wand that can magically grow your business or make you a superstar at work. It will give you strength and clarity, however. While it may take a while, practicing consistently and using techniques to build empathy will show you results for sure. Team LearnEd will bet on that! 

Empathy: The Key to a Successful Workplace

Scenario One: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off…
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Scenario One: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off and they refuse.

Scenario Two: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off, they agree, but the work suffers because there is no one else to do it, or that it will take longer for someone else to get the hang of it.

Scenario Three: You’re quite unwell, and there’s an important deadline at work. You ask your boss for a day off, you boss doesn’t agree. However, they acknowledge your situation and work, and as soon as the task is completed, they give you a break to rest and recover.

Which team would you rather work in?

On the flip side, if you were a customer, would you choose to get services from a company where the employees just talk to you about the formalities? Or would you choose to give business to a company where you feel like you are getting personalised service and where the staff really understands your needs?

The reason I’d select the latter options in both these cases is Empathy.

Essentially, people define empathy as the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and understand where they’re coming from, when in a certain situation. However, I find it physically rather impossible to step into someone else’s shoes, or mind. LearnEd defines empathy as the ability to bring yourself on the same page as the person that you’re dealing with- finding common ground and goals in any particular situation. In any office or organisation, empathy isn’t just about personal behaviour, but also about meeting targets without killing yourself for it. Empathy should reflect when dealing from the top to the bottom, and vice-versa. A 2018 study conducted by Business Solver on the State of Workplace Empathy states that 87% top bosses in organisation directly connect workplace empathy with business performance, productivity, retention and general business health. This idea is also supported by 79% of HR professionals who participated in the survey.

Harvard Business Review released an Empathy Index in 2016, which stated that empathy is more important to a growing business than ever before. In fact, the top ten most empathetic companies in this index have seen more than twice as much increase in value, compared to the companies at the bottom of the index! Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, echoes this opinion:“Empathy makes you a better innovator. If I look at the most successful products we [at Microsoft] have created, it comes with that ability to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers.”

One of the biggest reasons why we do we well at a work is that we can show empathy towards our team, our staff and our clients. At a time where numbers drive our performance, it is important to remember that empathy is just as important. It is as basic as that.

Empathy, especially at the workplace, is one of the cornerstones of successful contact and communication, thus leading to good relationships- both personal and professional. Communicating genuinely will go a long way in building empathy. At LearnEd, we think that empathy can be cultivated through practice in our daily life. With that in mind, watch this space for the next post in this series, where we discuss practical ways to inculcate empathy in our team and yours!

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:


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!