Business Communication Epiphany

by on July 20th, 2012

In my very last module of part-time MBA program at GWSB I took a class on Business Communication. I mentioned that class briefly in one of my posts before. This was a very hands-on class and quite a bit of fun too. I am going to have a longer post with the recap of that class soon. And now I just want to touch upon one particular episode that was very helpful for me to understand certain things about myself.

In the course of the class we had to prepare, among other things, a persuasive presentation. I am planning to publish that one too sometime. The topic I chose was on the telework. Essentially I was trying to persuade the business leaders to let their people do teleworking as much as possible, subject to business and technological constraints specific to particular organization/business.

After the original presentation each of us received feedback from the students in the class and the professor. We were also given a chance to have a second take on presentation with an attempt to incorporate the feedback and correct the mistakes pointed by the audience. The second take was not the whole presentation though, just a short abstract where we tried to show the improvements based on the feedback.

The final part of this assignment was to write a self-evaluation of the persuasive presentation itself and any feedback we received. So the rest of the post is the edited version of that self-evaluation written assignment. As you will see, I got a lesson from the class in the area I did not really expect. Frankly, these revelation moments are one of the most important parts of MBA program for me.

Even though for this persuasive presentation we had been given time to prepare, unlike the other two impromptu speeches, it is amazing to see that the same things pop up regardless of preparation or impromptu status: eye contact, legs movement, etc. I made a note of all those remarks given to me in the feedback. It takes though more than just one class a week to practice and exercise in order to correct those shortcomings, and not just once, but consistently.

However, for me all those technical comments were overshadowed by a much more important comment. I needed to hear it some 30 years ago. This one comment was like a lightning bolt for me.

Since my teen age I remember hearing comments from people, both peers and superiors: “You are [look] very serious.” I did not see any problem with this. Being “serious” is more of a compliment than being “lightheaded” in my book anyways. This “serious” appearance was even beneficial to me when I was changing schools every year in my high school years, in the military service, even in the work place. Most of the time I avoided being bullied or harassed in other ways in spite of my not being a jock or a mean person.

On the other hand I realize now that I probably missed quite a few opportunities to get to know interesting people who were too scared of my “serious” appearance.

In this class I finally, after all this decades of self-delusion, got the right definition of what my appearance really is. After I did my re-take one of the classmates said: “This time you seemed to be more APPROACHABLE”.

This is the real thing that has been masked by “looking serious” comments from the past. People just could not find a better definition, but this was the real reason why even the bullies shunned away most of the time – all these years I appeared UNAPPROACHABLE.

Now that I know this, I can consciously try to work on this and have more laid-back, relaxed and APPROACHABLE demeanor. The best, though, would be to learn to switch back to my “seriousness” when needed, and to learn to recognize which situation requires what approach.

So this revelation that I am perceived as unapproachable is probably the most valuable lesson from the whole class. In my future post I will cover in more detail the technical aspects of Business Communication class.

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