Communication can be defined as the process of encoding a message and sending it to another individual or group of people using a specific medium. It is important to note that communication is increasingly becoming a key element for high level performance in nearly all work places and environments
Similar to the other routine training offered to student interns at Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), this session was also designed to further shape the interns into better employees in their future but also nurture them into better communicators moving forward. The training was conducted by Ms. Harriet Adong, the RAN Communications Manager and Ms. Loyce Twongirwe, the Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab administrative Assistant. The aim was mainly to equip the interns with the knowledge, skills and professional code of communication via the telephone, email, instant messaging and Skype among others.
During this training, the interns gained a lot of knowledge and skills, just to highlight a few below;
Telephone etiquette:One should always introduce her/himself in a polite manner when receiving telephone calls for example, “Hello! Thank you for calling ResilientAfrica Network. You are speaking to Winnie; how may I help you please? In addition, we were advised to answer calls at most after the second ring so that we do not keep the person calling in on line for a long time as this tends to bother the callers. It is also important that as a call recipient, you know who to connect the caller to in case of need. Speak to the person you are connecting the call to prior to actually completing the connection. Furthermore, it is only polite to request for one’s permission before putting them on Hold or loud speaker. Loyce also emphasized that the telephone volume should be set to a level that allows you to comprehensively hear the caller so that you avoid saying ‘pardon, pardon or I cannot hear you’. Last but not least, keep your telephone away and in silence during meetings to avoid any inconveniences. Having your telephone at hand during a meeting lessens your concentration levels and will also worry the meeting convener including the participants too who might think that your attention is divided between your telephone and the meeting discussions.
Emails:We were all cautioned to always open and use professional emails, avoid the use of for example email address firstname.lastname@example.org etc. That when sending an email to someone or replying to a group email; we should always think twice before hitting “Reply all”. That it is not called for to fill peoples’ inboxes with emails which might not directly benefit them but rather one of the recipients. One should always take care of humor when writing an email because what may sound funny when said out loud may not be funny in written and above all take care when using exclamation marks, these should only be used once.
Instant messaging:To use this command, it requires that you to know the person whom you are texting. Additionally, try to keep the conversation as short as possible because it is an instant message. In case you are delivering bad news, always call the recipient directly to avoid sending bad news via text because it may destruct or shock him or her. When you call to deliver bad news, you are able to first assess the conditions in which your recipient is and thereafter deliver the news accordingly. You are also in position to first prepare your recipient before delivering the news.
NOTE: We should all be keen and careful using abbreviations in text messages because they can easily be misunderstood.
“I learnt to be careful while using abbreviations and not to change meeting times via messages or emails because participants may not have time or be able to read the message in time” Said James, one of the RAN interns.
Skype: During video chats, it is advisable to look straight in the camera if it is on and you are holding a video conference because it will seem like you’re looking directly at the other person, highlighting the importance of eye contact. Also, avoid using too many gestures as you speak on Skype because this might become destructive to the other participant.
Furthermore, Harriet Adong shared with all the student interns that effective communication employing the use of body language requires you; to always make and keep eye contact with the person you are talking to and node occasionally so as to acknowledge a strong point during the conversation. Anything when overdone can easily be misinterpreted or even turn out to be destructive, so do not over node. In addition, it is also proper for any speaker to stand freely and in a relaxed mode not to project that you are nervous or evens a confined person. In other words, while talking to people, avoid standing with your arms crossed or picking your nails or even at worst picking your nostrils because this is unclean and also unethical. Further still, your code of conduct will be determined by the way you dress and therefore it is important that we all always endeavor to remain simple, smart and neat. The biggest percentage (85%) of what people perceive of you is what they see, so try to impress the audience at first sight by appearing organized and smart.
Lastly but not least, we also acquired new knowledge on other different communication aspects including; pitching, publicity and branding;
- Branding is important because it gives you identity; strong brands therefore are developed with time. When branding, one should remain consistent, seek out for continuous guidance on aspects related to growing the brand and use logos where necessary. The colors of the logos which you choose to use as you develop and grow your brand are equally important; please avoid using controversial or politically related colors for you can be misunderstood to be a supporter of a particular political group which can also negatively impact on your brand and business too. We should all start by building or developing our individual brands before we do so for the companies which we work for.
- Pitching includes verbal and visual presentation of ideas. It is intended to persuade someone to buy a product or take a specific course of action. One should put into consideration the Background to, the problem and proposed solution during pitching and also especially if he or she is pitching about a product. The interns were also cautioned about the need to be able to pitch about themselves during job interview and marketing sessions among others. When talking about oneself, mind to share about who you are, what you studied, where, what you are currently doing and your value add to a team given an opportunity to join one.
- Publicity is talking about what you are doing so as to let the world know about it. This can be done by documenting, writing, use of social media platforms among others. ‘If you do all the good work you are doing in a certain room, corner or part of the country or world and nobody gets to know about it, then you are equivalent to doing nothing’ Adong stressed.
‘On August 8th 2017, during my internship at the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Innovation Lab, I was privileged to engage in the Communication Etiquette training delivered by Ms. Harriet Adong and Ms. Loyce Twongirwe. Their presentations were beyond our expectations, equipping us the student interns with the necessary skills and knowledge that will help us in our future careers and professions. It was indeed a very rich and positive experience and we cannot commend them enough, THANK YOU Ladies!’ shared Winnie Akello, student intern 2017 cohort from Makerere University, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS). THE ONLY DIASABILITY IN LIFE IS BAD ATTITUDE, Scott Hamilton.
Thank you Winnie Akello for initiating and sharing this piece.