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Interview Tips

SSB INTERVIEW

General

Selecting candidates for various appointments purely on the basis of written test of testimonials is a thing of the past. Whether it is selection for a job, or for training abroad or for admission to a college course, there is definitely an interview or personality test. A candidate who aspires for success in his career, an individual who whishes to have a bright future, a competitor who is keen to top the list, must, therefore, master the technique of doing the best in the interview.

The Aim of an SSB Interview

The aim of an interview at the SSB is to assess the leadership or ‘Officer-like’ qualities of the candidate by means of a directed or purposive conversation between the candidate and the Interviewing Officer (IO). In addition to appraising the present level of the candidate the IO tries to evaluate the training potential of the candidate. The questions at the interview, therefore, will be so directed as to allow the candidate to automatically show his leadership ability in his answers.

Leadership Qualities

The following qualities have been generally accepted as the qualities of a leader.

Intellectual Attainment 

  1. The extent of knowledge of various subjects of academic pursuit – e.g., Science, History, Economics, Literature, Current Events, etc.
  2. The depth of knowledge – how deeply has the candidate studied a subject of his choice or interest.
  3. Application of knowledge – how has the candidate applied his theoretical knowledge to find solution of daily life situations.
  4. General knowledge of current affairs, everyday science, burning topics, sports, newspaper headlines, etc.                        
  5. Grasp – quickness with which the candidate picks up the core requirement of the question.

Logical Approach to Problems

  1. Rational/clearheaded, analytical, systematic, proceeding step by step and no contradictions.
  2. Practical approach – realistic and sensible, use of common sense, alive to facts and existing limitations.

Planning & Organising Ability: 

  1. Clear aim and objectives -ambition and goal in life e.g., why he wants this job?
  2. Planning-working out what is to be done, when and how?
  3. Methodical and systematic approach.
  4. Mobilisation and utilization of resources.

Power of Expression 

  1. Fluency in speech – no stammering, no unwarranted gaps while answering the question.
  2. Forceful – deliberate, lively, enthusiastic and arresting. No monotonous or dragging voice. No swallowing of words. No affectations.
  3. Convincing ability – speaking with sincerity and conviction.

Dynamic Qualities 

  1. Self-confidence.
  2. Initiative and enterprise.
  3. Drive, dash, push, motivation.
  4. Promptness in taking decisions, borne out cf knowledge and sound judgment.
  5. Determination & Perseverance.
  6. Stamina, energy, active temperament and hard working.
  7. Resourcefulness.
  8. Courage, pluck, guts, spirit of adventure, willingness to take risks.

Psychological Factors 

  1. Positive thinking, confident and determined approach.
  2. Optimistic, hopeful outlook.
  3. Sense of right and wrong.
  4. Absence of anti-social or negative qualities – e.g., unreasonable fear, persecution complex, jealousy, inclination towards crimes, tendency to tell lies, selfishness, quarrelsome attitudes, irritable nature, etc.

Social Qualities 

  1. Sense of responsibility.
  2. Adaptability.
  3. Cooperation, readiness to help.
  4. Tact, pleasing manners and poise.
  5. Preference to group life and activity.
  6. Considerations for feelings of others.
  7. Friendly.
  8. Readiness to sacrifice, selflessness, placing group before self. 9. Ability to influence others and get things done.

Personal Traits  

  1. Cheerful, pleasant  and smiling disposition.
  2. Liveliness – Eager, alert sprightly, inspired, fired with ambition.
  3. Enthusiasm, keenness and interest.
  4. Appearance, dress and turnout -smart, clean and suited to the occasion.
  5. Poise – graceful movements, confident approach, straight walk, looking into the eyes while speaking -not bent headed or looking at one’s toes while speaking.
  6. Punctuality.

Character: 

  1. Discipline.
  2. Loyalty.
  3. Integrity and moral values.
  4. Sincerity.

HOW TO SUCCEED IN INTERVIEWS

Making a Good Impression

An interview will normally last 15 to 70 minutes which is sufficient time for the IO to appraise your personality. You should, therefore, aim to make a good first impression on him and try to sustain that impression till the end of the interview.

To achieve this you should take the following steps.

Personal Hygiene. Be clean, neat and tidy when you present yourself for the Interview. See that you have good haircut and hair are combed well. Nails of your fingers are cut and clean. Remove sweat, oil, dirt, etc., from your face and forehead. Make sure that no bad odour or smell emanates from you. It is understood that you can’t change your face, but you can certainly do a lot to improve it. Your appearance should show that you are an orderly person. Therefore, do take care of your grooming.

Dressing Up.

Shakespeare wrote “Apparel proclaimed a man” i.e., a man is recognized by the way he dresses . How true ! You make the first impression with the way you dress yourself up. If your clothes create an initial unfavorable impression, you will be hard put to neutralize it during the interview. Similarly, with some care for your clothes you can begin the interview with your right foot forward. It is, therefore, very essential that you turn up for the interview, smartly dressed.

Dress well as per the season and suited to the occasion. Your clothes should not be gaudy or showy. You must present yourself in a suit, preferably of dark or sober color. Your shirt must be clean, well ironed and starched. Your shirt cuffs should not be frayed at the ends. Shoes must be well polished.

Normal Etiquettes /manners.

Etiquette, manners and courtesy can help in tilting the interview in your favor. Before entering the room, gently knock at the door and announce yourself. You can politely inquire whether you could go in. Enter only when you are bid to do so and that too calmly and with confidence. After entering, greet those present according to the time of the day, e.g., ‘Good morning, Sir/s,’ ‘Good afternoon, Sir/s,’ and so on. It would be ideal if you could stand to attention while greeting them (This is expected of service personnel and from those who have attended NCC training). Wait till you are offered a seat. Then thank the person who asks you to sit down before you take your seat. If you are not offered a seat, continue to stand and answer the questions from that position. While paying compliments, and later while answering the questions, you should be respectful and say ‘Sir’ while addressing the IO.

Avoid mannerisms. 

Sit straight and look up. Do not keep shaking your knees, tapping on the floor and so on. Stop coughing or clearing your throat every now and then. Stop playing with your necktie, collars or coat buttons. Do not lean on the table and rest your elbows there. In fact, you should cut out all unnecessary movements. You can and must be relaxed.

Smile and be cheerful. 

While entering the room, greeting the IO, thanking him or listening to him keep your smile on. See that you do not start yawning during the interview. You should look keen, interested, pleasant and enthusiastic. A smile helps you in all these.

Speak distinctly and audibly. 

Do not either shout or mumble. Pronounce your words fully and give emphasis to the syllable where required. Speak in such a way that all those present could hear you without straining themselves. Speak with interest and enthusiasm. Your voice must sparkle and vibrate with spirit. Do not drag or sound monotonous. Speak to the Chairman or to the Members and not to the floor, roof, table to or wall. In other words, look into their eyes while you speak.

Be attentive. 

Concentrate when the IO speaks to you. Listen carefully to what he says. Do not ask him to repeat himself often. Do not close your eyes while you want to concentrate. Also do not interrupt him. Allow him to complete the question or remarks before you give your reply or comments.

Avoid arguments. 

Do not challenge the opinion of the IO or the correctness of his statements. Express your views with tact and consideration. Avoid criticizing and finding fault with others. If you are in the wrong, admit it and apologise immediately. Never make excuses. While giving your conclusions, proceed in a logical manner and adduce valid reasons. Do not be self-opinionated.

Do not bluff, boast vainly and shoot lines.

State the facts accurately and be modest while describing your achievements. When you do not know the answer, be frank and tell them so. Never generalize or make vague guesses. See that you do not woffle. While you speak, you must be able to hold the attention of your listeners with interest. You should never become a bore.

Act with confidence, hope and assurance.

Be positive and optimistic in your outlook. Remember, it is not so much what you say, but how you say, that mostly determines your success in the interview.

HANDLING QUESTIONS

Important Factors of the Interview

The two important factors which play a decisive role in the selection of the candidate in interview are the candidate’s knowledge and his power of expression. In a group or a gathering the person who does the talking in a forceful and convincing manner dominates. Similarly, at the interview, the candidate who is able to speak fluently and express himself clearly, will score high marks. At the same time, candidate cannot talk well unless he has good knowledge to generate ideas on a variety of topics. The interview, as already pointed out, will not be a mere cross-examination of the candidate, like questions and answers in a school classroom. The questions will be open-ended. While answering the question the candidate should take the lead and cover as much of the relevant ground as possible. In other words, simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question will not suffice and the candidate must logically and forcefully substantiate his views with valid arguments. Both the UPSC and SSB interviews lay much emphasis on qualities of leadership and not merely on academic or textual knowledge. The candidate should, therefore, know what the various qualities of leadership are, and how they could be highlighted by him during the interview.

Some Practical Hints

No matter how deep is his knowledge or how high his other leadership qualities, the candidate cannot impress the Board unless he can talk well, interestingly and forcefully during the interview. While giving answers, he should bring out such of his activities or experiences, which show up traits of leadership in him.

His words should be audible to the IO. He must speak slowly, laying emphasis on his words where necessary. He should not sound monotonous by speaking in even pitch or in a dragging or mumbling voice. Instead, his . words should have life. He must raise his voice where emphasis is required. There is no need at all to be in any hurry. In fact, he should be deliberately slow, so that he could be clearly heard and understood. People who speak very fast often do not pronounce the words fully. They often swallow up end-syllables of the words. The candidate should speak with confidence, and should look into the eyes of the interviewing officer.

First of all the candidate must fully understand the question put to him. If he is not able to hear clearly or follow the question properly, he should request the IO to repeat it. All he has to say is:

“I beg your pardon, Sir”.

Or “Could you please repeat the question?”

Or

“Sorry, Sir. I do not precisely follow the question. May I request you to repeat the question, please?”

Since the interview is not’a mere question-and-answer session, the candidate should converse actively and try to give comprehensive answers. Let us consider some illustrations.

  • Question: What is your native place?
  • Answer : “Kewaplore”.

Comments: This one-word answer is incomplete in the context of the interview. In all probability the interviewing officer has never heard this name before. A better answer would be – “I come from Kewaplore, a small village in Madhya Pradesh. It has population of some 10,000 people who are mainly engaged in agriculture”.

  • Question: What do you think is the most pressing problem facing the country today?
  • Answer :   “Achieving self-sufficiency in food production.”

Comments: Again, the answer is inadequate for the interview. Although the interviewing officer has not asked you specifically to state why you think so, still you must give the reasons for choosing this as the pressing problem. It would be better if you state some other equally pressing problems and then state as to why you have given priority to food production. This would, then, indicate your knowledge in both dimensions – width and depth. Here is a better answer.

“In my opinion, gaining self-sufficiency in food is the most pressing problem facing our country today. I agree that there are other problems, like industrialization, un-employment, national integration etc., which also require to be tackled with equal urgency. But I had give priority to food, as it cuts the very root of our existence as an independent nation. What is more we have the resources and it only needs proper harnessing of modern scientific techniques to achieve self sufficiency in foodgrains.”

  • Question: Don’t you think industrialization is essential to improve food production?
  • Answer : Yes, Sir. I entirely agree with you. But industrialization should not be at the cost of food production. Thus the priority, I feel, should be accorded to food.
  • Question : I suppose, food always comes first with you.
  • Answer: I beg your pardon, Sir. I mentioned food in the context of the problems facing the country today. As for myself, I believe in the principle of eating to live, and not the other way round.

Comments: You should see that two additional questions have come up from your original answer. This is natural and generally so. The answers show fair knowledge, adequate grasp, logical reasoning and good presentation. What is more, the candidate is retaining the initiative, enabling the questions to be asked in his familiar subject.

WINNING CHECKLIST

  • Update all information furnished in your Bio-data.
  • Your personal appearance means a lot. It would show that you are a person of discipline and the one the Board is eagerly looking for. Only a person who can take care of himself will be competent and inclined to take care of others. So take care to appear in your best.
  • Brush up your knowledge on everything that the IO would like to know from you. How you present your ideas is more important than the need to know about everything in the world. None on earth would expect you to answer all the factual questions put to you. But they would assess you as to how you tackle the most ticklish questions.
  • Be alert to the world around you. Develop an insight understanding of the burning issues that face the society, the nation, the economy and the world.
  • Be honest and straightforward in your answers.
  • Be cheerful. Only mose brimming with self-confidence can make themselves cheerful.

Importance of Etiquettes and Body Language

Body language refers to non-verbal and usually unconscious communication through the use of postures, gestures, facial expressions and the like. It is one of the most important aspects of the interview as the [O gets the response even without your speaking a word. For example, if the candidate starts perspiring on a question being asked it will show that the candidate is now under stress. Again, looking away and not meeting eye contact while answering a question will show lack of confidence in the candidate.
Walk into the IO’s office, standing straight and brimming with confidence. Wish the interviewer a good morning/ afternoon/ evening, as appropriate as per the time of the day, in order to initiate and facilitate the conversation. Do not extend your hand for a hand shake unless the IO extends his own hand first. Take a step forward and grasp his hand. The grasp should be firm but not like a vice. Remember it is a courtesy and not a test of strength with the IO.
Do not seem to be excited or nervous. Take a seat only when offered. Sit straight, but relaxed with arms in a natural position. Clasping your hands together or crossing your arms indicates your anxiousness. Look into the eyes of the interviewer and maintain this contact throughout the interview.
Maintain a smiling face throughout the interview and ensure that you do not indulge in fidgeting or finger tapping
Do not accept a beverage during the interview as this action is out of etiquettes. Be gracious in declining the offer, if made by the interviewer.
Once the interview comes to an end, get up and thank the interviewer.

PERSONAL INFORMATION QUESTIONNAIRE (PIQ) FORM

Two copies of PIQ form will be given to you for filling up at the SSB under the supervision of the Duty Group Testing Officer (GTO). This is the most important document as it will form the basis of your interview. It must, therefore, be filled up most carefully.

The PIQ form is spread over two pages. The first page contains serial no. 1-7 and second page serial no. 8-14. On the first page, your Education Record is the most important and on the second page Games/Hobbies/ Extra Curricular activities and Position of Authority or Responsibility is very important. For those who are in job (SCO, PC (SL), TA entries), the job description, nature of job etc. become very important.

Important tips for filling PIQ form

  • Carry adequate writing material.
  • Write in Capital Letters.
  • There should be no cutting / spelling mistakes.
  • Both copies should be identical.
  • Write only those things in the PIQ form on which you have good knowledge or in which you have actually participated.
  • Never bluff.

Some of the Questions that You should Prepare for

  1. What were the important railway stations that came between your place of boarding and the Selection Centre.
  2. What is the meaning of your name? (Know the meaning of your name. For this, speak to your elders and find all the details of your caste)
  3. Know everything about your father i.e. His Profession, Income, likes, dislikes, habits etc. You may be asked to compare yourself with your father.
  4. Describe the place where you have stayed the longest.
  5. How would you compare place of your maximum residence with the one you are staying in now.
  6. How has your state progressed after it became a new state of the Union of India.
  7. What are the problems that your state is facing? How would you solve these problems if you were made the chief minister.
  8. Whom do you love more – your father or mother and why ?
  9. Can you recollect your Happiest moment of life.
  10. Your Saddest moment of life.
  11. Describe the personality of your father. How would you compare yourself with him.
  12. Why did you take additional year / s for passing your Inter / graduation?
  13. Why has your academic performance shown a decline?
  14. How is your school / college different from other institutions?
  15. What advantages did you draw from the facilities provided by the school / college?
  16. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of being a day scholar over a boarder.
  17. Given a choice would you prefer to be a day scholar or a boarder? And why?
  18. Which is your best / favourite subject now?
  19. Why did you change your subjects from science to arts?
  20. Where are you working now? Tell me the organization of the company and where do you fit in.
  21. What are your duties and responsibilities?
  22. How do you like your job?
  23. What is your pay now and how do you spend your pay?
  24. What is the working environments in your Company/
  25. What is your future in your Company.
  26. Do you find your colleagues and senior friendly / helpful or apathetic towards you?
  27. How much notice period did you get for SSB Interview?
  28. What did you do during the notice period?
  29. How many of the candidates travelled with you to the SSB.
  30. How did you know they were coming for SSB?
  31. Why did you join NCC?
  32. How did NCC training affect your personality? Or what improvement have you found in your personality as a result of NCC training?
  33. Would you recommend that NCC be made compulsory for all boys and girls in the school and college? And why?

Note:

  • You must know the ranks and the weapons used in Army / Air Force / Navy, if you have been a NCC Cadet.
  • Whichever Games / Sport you play, you must have adequate knowledge about that game. You should know the following details:
  1. Size of Ground, b.   Rules of the Game
  2. Names of the famous players of the game that you play,
  3. Important Tournaments
  4. What is the latest on the National / International Scene.
  • Be able to organize a Match / Tournament.
  • You should have creative hobbies. Never say that you don’t have time to pursue a hobby.
  • Your Extra – Curricular activities should display that you have no stage inhibition and can interact with your friends.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL

  1. Who was your best CO and Why?
  2. Compare your last two COs.
  3. What is your wife’s education?
  4. How many children do you have? What is their age and who teaches the children?
  5. Compare your last two stations of posting.
  6. What are the duties you will perform as Lt.
  7. What are the duties of Record Officer? -For PCSL candidates.
  8. Which arm would you like to join and why?
  9. What are your duties and responsibilities?
  10. Do you find that the system needs a change and in what way for better performance?
  11. Which has been your best posting and why?
  12. Organization where you are working and what is your role in it?

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

COMMUNICATION-SPEAKING

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY

By listening, thinking and formulating your thoughts before you speak, you will increase your effectiveness as a powerful communicator.

  • Think before you talk.
  • Know your message.
  • Get to the point quickly. Then, it is easier for the listener to remember what you said.
  • Know the outcome you want from your conversation.
  • Practice the power of persuasion.
  • Almost everything you say is an attempt to persuade the other person to accept your point of view.
  • For successful networking, plan in advance what you want to say and what you want to accomplish.
  • Know something about the people you’ll be talking to.

CONTROL FEAR

Fear is a defence mechanism to protect ourselves. We fear destruction of our self-esteem. Who we are is precious to us. Others’ words about us can seem like building blocks either supporting us or crashing in on us. Fear focuses on the worst thing that can happen. “I’ll fail. I’ll forget what I’m going to say. I’ll be humiliated: I’ll panic. I’ll stop breathing.” Instead, shift your focus with the following tips:

  • Focus on the

— Listener, (not yourself)

— Message, (not the words)

— Success, (not the alternatives)

  • Visualize a positive outcome.
  • Take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself.
  • Do your homework, know what you want to say.
  • Control your negative self-talk.
  • Speak from the heart rather than the ego.

STOP TALKING AND LISTEN

Conversation should be like a tennis match, each person having a turn to give and receive. The true art of conversation is talking and listening.

  • Allow your conversation partner to speak.
  • Respect the other person’s point of view.
  • Concentrate on the conversation. Only hearing (while thinking about what you will say) rather than actively listening will cause you to miss vital information.
  • Help individual(s) resolve their own problems with patient listening. Individuals have the ability to solve their own problems.

THINK BEFORE YOU TALK

If you give attention to what you will say, you increase your chances of persuading the other person to your point of view. You will also decrease the chances of making a mistake or social blunder.

  • Pause, think and consider what you want to say.
  • Choose appropriate words that clearly express your message.
  • Determine the outcome you want from your interchange.
  • Know your audience, and if possible, their viewpoint and level of understanding about the subject matter.
  • Shape your message to be easily understood.

BELIEVE IN YOUR MESSAGE

Believe in your message because this is the crux of any successful communication. When you passionately believe in your message, your verbal and nonverbal communications will flow freely.

  • Speak with passion and conviction.
  • Allow your feelings, delivery; body language and voice to flow naturally.
  • Show your enthusiasm.
  • Avoid faking it or you risk losing your credibility.

REPEAT MAJOR POINTS

Repetition reinforces the speaker’s main points and aids in listener’s retention.

  • Know your major points.
  • Paraphrase, as needed, in different ways throughout your conversation to re-emphasize.
  • Tactfully ask your listener for feedback.
  • Ask questions that will indicate the listener understands your main points.

FIND OUT WHAT YOUR LISTENER WANTS

To gain the most from any conversation, focus on your listener. Ask questions and listen to the responses.

  • Ask questions, lots of questions.
  • Use open-ended questions.
  • Rephrase questions or responses for the listener to ensure shared understanding.
  • Offer alternatives/suggestions for the listener to evaluate.
  • Define terminology so there is less chance of misunderstanding.

COMMUNICATION-SPEAKING & LISTENING

AVOID DAYDREAMING

Day dreaming is normal because of listener’s spare time. We process information at about 400-600 words per minute while the average speaking range is from 125-150 words per minute. The difference is listener’s spare time. To avoid day dreaming:

  • Focus on your speaker.
  • Listen to your speaker and interact by actively giving the speaker verbal and nonverbal feedback. Use such nonverbal cues as nodding or smiling.
  • Concentrate on the speaker’s point of view; review or mentally check to see if your are in agreement.
  • As a speaker, reduce listener’s spare time by use of vocal and visual cues as well as use of stories, anecdotes, humour, and metaphors.

USE MIND MAPPING

Mind Mapping is a system of recording our thoughts so that we employ both left brain and right brain thinking, i.e., whole brain thinking. In order to do this, we use key words, symbols and colour. Mind Mapping allows us to generate and organize thoughts at the same time.

  • Write down a main point, central thought or idea.
  • Circle the main thought, then use interconnecting branches to show associated ideas.
  • In note taking, mind map things you are thinking about. You will generate more ideas, see relationships among key words, write less than in conventional note taking: and have more fun!
  • In making telephone calls, mind map who you are going to call, your purpose for calling, when you intend to call, what questions you want answered or what comments you want to make, and what .information you want to share.

INTERVIEW *

Whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee, you will have a stake in the successful outcome of the encounter.

  • Think ahead.
  • Prepare for the interview by gathering information about the topic and the other person(s) who will be participating in, or affected by, the interview.
  • Make a list of questions you want to ask and information you need to acquire during the interview. .
  • Listen carefully for points you didn’t think of before.
  • Look pleasant; smile when appropriate.
  • Stay actively engaged in the interview; guard against distractions.
  • Take notes; use mind-mapping techniques.

COMPLAINTS

When we’re not satisfied with products or services, we can improve our chances for satisfactory results by using effective communication techniques.

  • State the problem.
  • Supply supporting evidence.
  • State the remedy you seek. What do you want done about it?
  • Hold your temper.
  • Avoid attacking the person listening to your complaint.
  • Let them know when you want corrective action completed.
  • Ask to see the supervisor or the manager when the person you are speaking with is unable to help you.
  • As a last resort, tell them other approaches you plan to take to get resolution of the problem, such as taking your complaint to the manufacturer or getting media attention.

SPEAKING AND WRITING-KEY POINTS

WRITE A PURPOSE STATEMENT

A purpose statement helps you to think through what you are going to say and stay focused on the essential message. It sets your parameters.

  • Write a one-sentence purpose statement before you begin to write, whether it is a letter, thesis or speech.
  • Use the who, what, where, when and how format to keep your message focused and brief.
  • Write and rewrite until you are able to capture the idea in one sentence.

USE AN OUTLINE

An outline helps you to organize your thoughts before speaking or writing. As the creative juices flow, jot down ideas, then go back and sort them.

  • Make notes of what you want to say in outline form.
  1. List all major points or topics you want to address or cover.
  2. List supporting points, a. Give necessary details, b. Provide examples or anecdotes.
  • Repeat this process until your entire message is covered.
  • Arrange in a logical sequence, such as order of importance.
  • Review and reshuffle points until they make the best impact.

TRANSFER NEGATIVE EMOTIONS TO’PAPER

Writing out your negative emotions on paper releases some emotional stress. Write out what you want to say especially when strong emotions are involved, or when thee is the potential for lasting negative impact.

  • Sort out your issues and emotions.
  • Keep your emotions under control.
  • Put your anger on paper or into the computer but do not send the document. This gives you an opportunity to vent your hostility without doing permanent damage.
  • Ask yourself, “If the intended recipient had this information, would it be to my advantage?”
  • Set aside your writing and return to it after a “cooling off” period.
  • Consider asking someone else who is not involved in the issue to listen to you, read what you wrote and provide objective feedback before a confrontation.
  • Destroy anything you have written in anger. Let some time pass and begin again.

GET TO THE POINT QUICKLY

Know what you want to say, say it quickly and get to the point. Rambling is a barrier to effective listening. People will not listen to you unless you get to the point quickly.

  • Answer the question, “What is my point?”
  • Put your major point or request, your “bottom line,” first.
  • Avoid the risk that your listener or reader will be interrupted or simply tune you out before you get to your major point or request.
  • In closing, reiterate your point(s).

EXPLAIN ABSTRACT WORDS

When “using abstract words make the idea more tangible. For example, “strong as an ox.”

  • Use a metaphor, e.g., “he ploughs through his work.”
  • Restate the idea using different words.
  • Paint a picture to clarify the abstract term such as the word “conversation,” e.g., “A conversation is like a tennis match where the listener and speaker are the players.”
  • Use a simile, e.g., “Her teeth are like pearls.”

USE ABSOLUTES AND GENERALITIES SPARINGLY

Absolutes and generalities are difficult to explain or defend. Generalities weaken our statements; absolutes are dogmatic statements which often cannot be proven. These terms have exclusive properties which are barriers to effective communications, e.g., “I never… We always….” The use of these terms may indicate a lack of understanding or may show poor preparation for discussing a particular topic.

  • Avoid using absolutes and generalities.
  • Explain why you are using absolutes or generalities. It shows you are aware of the word’s properties and are using them for a specific purpose.
  • When using absolutes or generalities, avoid assuming that your listener agrees with your statement.

ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT

Ask for what you want, thoughtfully and tactfully. Begin by making small requests. Success builds on success. Every success reduces the fear of rejection when you next ask for what you want.

  • Make your requests as specific as possible.
  • Ask for information.
  • Ask for help first from those closest to you. They are more likely to give a positive response.
  • Guard against feeling rejected when the request you make is not granted.
  • ‘Except a favourable reply.
  • Visualize yourself receiving what you ask for.
  • Formulate positive affirmations and repeat them aloud to yourself to develop a belief that you shall have what you ask for.
  • Remember to say “Thank you”.

USE ACTIVE VERBS

Active verbs add more power and energy to your communication.

  • State the doer of the action before the action is done.
  • Add clarity to your sentence.
  • Use passive voice only occasionally, for variety.
  • Assign responsibility for action.

USE GENDER NEUTRAL LANGUAGE

Sexist language immediately raises resentment in many people. To hold the attention of all your listeners, include everyone in your comments. Although “he” is still universal, overuse sounds exclusive.

  • Use the plural instead of singular pronouns, “their” instead of “his or hers.”
  • Formulate sentences without pronouns, “Everyone is expected to do the job well,” instead of “his or her job.”
  • Be consistent in addressing women and men of the same rank or status. Frequently, women are addressed by their first names while men are called “Mr. Surname”.
  • Use gender neutral terminology. For instance, use “work force” instead of “manpower.”
  • Provide guidance for both sexes on invitations; e.g., “business attire” instead of “coat and tie”.

CITE THE SOURCES OF STATISTICAL DATA

Citing the source indicates you are prepared, that you know your subject well and are willing to give credit. By stating your source, you will reduce the likelihood of a challenge.

  • Check to be sure you are correct. ‘
  • Be precise in your statement.
  • When providing statistical data in written form, indicate the date as well as the source of the material.
  • Refer to your source.

ILLUSTRATE WITH PERSONAL EXAMPLES

People think in pictures, not words. Using personal examples helps people to relate quickly to your message without spending too much time mentally translating your message into a picture.

  • Help people to relate to you by sharing personal experiences.
  • Build a source of personal examples by keeping a journal.
  • Use stories from your past to illustrate your point or the message you want to leave with your listeners.

EXPRESS EMOTION

Emotions should be an aid to understanding allowing others to empathize with us.

  • Describe your feelings as well as facts.
  • Set limits. Extreme emotion becomes a barrier.
  • Indicate that you are approachable.
  • Use body language as a part of your emotional expression.

…..with sound, the emotion communicates the idea, which is more direct and therefore more powerful.

—Alfred North Whitebead

PAINT VERBAL PICTURE

People think in pictures, not words. Help your listeners see what you mean. Everyone processes information primarily through one preferred sensory channel. By referring to different channels, everyone’s preferred mode is included.

  • Use descriptive words such as colours, smells, and feelings.
  • Use metaphors and similes.
  • Use stories and anecdotes to enrich your message.
  • Employ as many sensory channels (sight, touch, smell, sound taste) as possible.

SUPPORT STATEMENTS WITH DETAILS

In talking with others be prepared to give more details, or cut back on details, depending on your listener’s nonverbal cues.

  • Put your most important statement first and follow it with supporting material.
  • Give additional facts and figures for greater credibility.
  • Watch your listeners for nonverbal cues on how much detail is needed to support your message.
  • Anticipate questions from your listener’s nonverbal cues and provide additional information.

QUOTE AUTHORITIES

By quoting authorities, you give evidence that you are abreast of current thinking on the subject. By giving the source for your quote, you demonstrate personal credibility.

  • Add more strength to your point.
  • Do your homework. Read and listen to recognized experts and others in your field.
  • State your own opinions and conclusions along with the quote.
  • Use quotations to support your point as needed; too much of other people’s material can give the perception that you have few ideas of your own.

If I have seen further, it is because

I have stood on the shoulders of giants.

—Sir Isaac Newton

SUPPRESS EMOTION

There are appropriate times to express your emotions and times to suppress your emotions. It is important to remain in control of your emotions to maintain objectivity.

  • Know when to express and when to suppress emotion.
  • To regain control of your own emotions, take deep breaths, exhaling slowly.
  • Express strong emotions such as anger with discretion.
  • Avoid expressing intense emotions which tend to cloud reasoning and decrease credibility.

SPEAKING AND WRITING-WRITING

WRITE PERSONAL NOTES

Unexpected notes to friends, acquaintances, and family members uplift your spirits and those of the recipient.

  • Keep in touch. Periodically say “hello” with a quick note.
  • Set aside time to write. Early morning works well for many. Usually there is no interference and thoughts flow freely.
  • Find a good place to write and use it consistently.
  • Keep a supply of stationery and note cards at hand.
  • Plan to write three to five notes daily.
  • Tell how you feel about situations and events.
  • Acknowledge gifts and favours with a thank you note sent within a week of the occasion.
  • Use postcards occasionally except for information which should be kept private.

USE SHORT SENTENCES

Shorter sentences pack more power. They are also easier to read and understand.

  • Avoid run-on, rambling sentences.
  • Review your written work and see if conjunctions can be deleted to form two sentences.

COMMUNICATE ONLINE

Electronic mail (e-mail) is a quick way to send a message to one or more people if you have a computer. The receiver, however, may not open the e-mail for several hours or days. Anything you send in e-mail or on the Internet should be considered public information.

  • Subscribe to an online service.
  • Learn to use e-mail. You can also communicate through news-groups, chat rooms, and bulletin boards.
  • Compose letters for e-mail with salutation and complimentary close.
  • Compose and edit off line.
  • Be concise; get to the point quickly.
  • Learn about “entiquette,” the customs and manners involved in using on line service. For example, the use of all capital letters indicates that you are shouting.

GENERAL TIPS-READING

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH CURRENT EVENTS

There are many sources to keep you informed: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, the internet, as well as the people and events around us.

  • Question the intent of the reporter. Over time you may learn of a reporter’s bias towards various topics.
  • Think as you read or listen. You are not required to accept everything as factual.
  • Find another article or programme about the same event and see it from another reporter’s point of view.
  • Discuss current events with your acquaintances.
  • Do not expect everyone to interpret events in the same way.
  • Scan even the sections of newspapers and magazines that you are not particularly interested in, e.g., sports, finance, arts.

Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write…Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing.

—John Adams

READ SOMETHING INSPIRATIONAL

Books like the Bible and the Gita not only give us guidelines for living; they also soothe the soul. They provide resources to draw upon for information or consolation.

  • Read inspirational books.
  • Subscribe to newsletters or pamphlets which provide regular readings to lift the spirit.
  • Begin to form a habit of regularly reading inspirational thoughts and verses.
  • Carry an inspirational verse with you to reflect upon during spare moments when you are caught in traffic or are standing in line.
  • Check Internet sources for inspirational messages.
  • Read or write poetry that inspires you.

GENERAL TIPS-NON-VERBAL

PRESENCE

Presence signals an individual’s personal power. It exudes strength, awareness and confidence.

  • Be aware of who you are, the role you play, and who your audience is.
  • Be “in the moment” and in tune with your inner self.
  • Exude strength and awareness through confidence and poise.
  • Sit and stand erect.
  • Let your nonverbal cues reflect the message you want to convey.
  • Signal your self-esteem and power.
  • Draw attention to yourself in a positive way.
  • Let your body language agree with your spoken words.
  • Realize that others are getting in impression of you during the first visual or verbal contact.

DRESS APPROPRIATELY

When you know you look good, you feel good about yourself. When you dress appropriate to the occasion, you are not drawing attention to yourself. Your listener will think, consciously or subconsciously, that you are “one of us.” This aids communication.

  • Find out what dress is considered appropriate. For example, attire that is acceptable in a certain city may not be appropriate in the same situation in another one.
  • Be sure your clothing sends the message you intend. Before you say a word, what you wear affects first impressions.
  • Wear clothing that is congruent with your verbal message. If, for example, you are a business woman in a business situation, sheer, lacy blouses will not advance a serious message. Similarly, when everyone in the office is dressed in business attire and you show up in jeans and a T-shirt, you are not in appropriate-attire unless it’s a day designated as “casual.”
  • Read a book on how to dress for various situations such a public appearances or business meetings.

SMILE

A smile is the most effective means to establish effective communications. It is a facial expression that signals you are pleased or happy. The comers of the mouth turn upwards, the teeth are often seen as the lips are parted, and the eyes sparkle.

  • Use a smile to signal that you are in a pleasant mood, positive, and approachable.
  • Practise smiling in front of a mirror to gain confidence. See how you look with a broad smile showing your teeth, a smile with lips together, and a smile teeth parted, possibly leading to a soft laugh.
  • Smile to indicate a positive attitude :

– Respect for the other person.

– Friendliness.

– Openness.

The smile must be of the right kind; and the right kind must have understanding in it, and friendliness, and a good deal of patience.

—Roderic Owen

GENERAL TIPS-ATTITUDE

VISUALIZE

Visualization is a technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life.

  • Find a restful place and become comfortable.
  • Free your mind from worry and extraneous thoughts.
  • Think about the outcome you want from reading this book. Create a clear picture in your mind. For example, see yourself as an effective, interesting communicator.
  • Think positive thoughts about your communication skills.
  • See yourself having already accomplished what you are starting out to do. Focus frequently on the that idea, picture. Your subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is vividly imagined.
  • Embellish your thoughts with sounds, colours, smells, and textures.
  • Develop positive statements or affirmations indicating that what you want already exists. This is similar to virtual reality in the business and military environments.
  • Let yourself feel the exhilaration of success.

BE FLEXIBLE

Being flexible is part of the give and take of everyday living. It means bouncing back after being disappointed; being able to “get over it!” and move on.

  • Be willing to relinquish control of the conversation.
  • Listen to the other person’s point of view.
  • Be willing to change your mind.
  • Be willing to compromise (if it’s not a matter of principle).
  • Be willing to state your point in a different, perhaps simpler, way to help the other person understand.

BE LIKEABLE

On first contact, the listeners will instantaneously make a judgment as to whether they like, trust, and believe the speaker. If listeners like the speaker, effective communication begins. The speaker’s ideas immediately become more acceptable.

  • Smile.
  • Be friendly.
  • Lower your defences.
  • Be aware of the other person’s perception of you. How do you “come across?”
  • To get what you want, look for points of agreement upon which you may build.
  • Do not argue.
  • Check your disposition. Are you predisposed to agree with the person with whom you are conversing? Or are you someone who instinctively tends to play Devil’s Advocate?

COMMIT TO BEING TRUTHFUL

Credibility, once lost, is hard to regain. Your reputation may be at stake.

Cultivate your image as morally trustworthy.

Beware of half-truths, hidden agendas and ulterior motives.

Demonstrate respect for .the other person.

Be sensitive.

Use tact. Do not abandon consideration of another’s feelings.

Truth has nothing to do with telling someone his tie is ugly.

  • In social situations, silence may be the better choice in many cases.
  • Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.

—Benjamin Disraeli

DONT TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY

When you can laugh at yourself, you become more human and effective communication will be easier: Humour can make a powerful point.

  • Lighten up!
  • Be willing to laugh. See the humour in situations.
  • Be willing to concede a point.
  • Do not take offence too quickly. Be sure you understand the message and the intent.
  • Use self-deprecating Humour. Occasionally “poke fun” at yourself.
  • Look for humour in things that happen to you every day. Write them in your journal. Turn these happenings into stories to make your conversations more interesting.

ELIMINATE NEGATIVE FEELINGS

Negative feelings drain our energy. While they may be unavoidable at times to face injustice or for self-preservation, you should decide when such negative emotion is necessary. Generally, people tend to avoid those who have habitually negative feelings.

  • Gain control of your feelings.
  • Be aware of your “self-talk”. What are you silently saying to yourself?
  • Negative feelings of ten carry over into conversations in the form of nonverbal signals which may be incongruent with what you are trying to get across.
  • When negative feelings affect your self-confidence, practice positive self-talk. Develop a list of positive affirmations, with statements like. I will… I can… I can…

BE RECEPTIVE TO NEW IDEAS

Often we concentrate so hard on getting our message across that we miss vital signals provided by the person with whom we are speaking.

  • Relax and allow time for input.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Mentally examine what the other person is saying.
  • Consider how the new ideas might to things you already know. They may add to your knowledge, encourage you to study further, or change your mind.
  • Process information with an intent to find agreement.
  • Yield control.
  • Think before you speak.

RECOGNIZE THE IMPACT OF STRESS ON COMMUNICATION

If you like or work in a high-stress environment, personal frustrations may block effective communication.

  • Recognize the impact of frustration or stress on effective communication.
  • Control your frustration level when surrounded by shouting, yelling, and screaming (for example, in a restaurant where several employees who are trying to be responsive to each other, and to the customers, get into a shouting match).
  • Guard against being curt, impatient, or defensive.
  • When people around you seem to lose control, be the “eye of the storm,” and attempt to remain calm.

GENERAL TIPS-BEHAVIOURAL

USE GOOD MANNERS

Good manners are always appropriate and may give you a competitive edge.

  • Say such things as “please, thank you, excuse me” with sincerity.
  • Show respect for other people. It improves your communication.
  • Pay attention to good manners.

–    They  create   the   right   environment  for   effective communication.

–    They help us to establish rapport.

RECOGNIZE MANIPULATIVE BEHAVIOUR

To influence without manipulation is an art. To manipulate or control artfully or by shrewd use of influence especially in an unfair or fraudulent way. (Paraphrasing Webster’s definition)

  • Be direct.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Give convincing arguments. Let others decide for themselves.
  • Realize that manipulative behaviour can backfire.

RECOGNIZE CONDESCENDING MANNER

To condescend is to “talk down” to the other person. It is seen as going down to another level, attempting to appear gracious of affable to inferiors.

  • Treat others as equals.
  • Avoid feeling superior to others. Your verbal and non-verbal language will reflect your attitude.
  • Show genuine respect for each individual’s uniqueness.
  • Avoid prejudging.

AVOID WORDS THAT HURT

A measure of one’s stature is consideration for others. But truthfulness can be turned a hurtful weapon.

  • Provide feedback or evaluations only when requested.
  • Think of your role in the relationship before providing criticism. Are you teacher, parent, peer, or friend?
  • Phrase your criticism to include something positive along with specific suggestions for improvement.
  • Don’t get personal.
  • Allow the other person to save face.
  • Avoid embarrassing the other person.

HANDLE DISAGREEMENTS WITH TACT

It is unrealistic to think that everyone will always agree with your opinions and go along with what you request. What do you do when the other person says “no?”

  • Stay calm.
  • Weigh the importance of agreement. If it is a matter of principle, you may decide to end the conversation, or even the relationship.
  • Be certain you clearly understand the issue.
  • Ask questions until you are satisfied that you have a mutual understanding.
  • Accept the response as a difference in opinion, rather than a personal rejection.
  • Respect the other person’s right to their opinion.
  • Work at finding an acceptable compromise unless it is a matter of principle.

GENERAL TIPS-MISCELLANEOUS 

ORGANIZE PRODUCTIVE MEETINGS

Whether you are chairing a meeting or participating, consider your purpose and the contribution you will make to the proceedings. When you are the Chair :

  • Prepare. Have a specific purpose for the meeting and an expected outcome.
  • Develop a written agenda and have a copy for each participant. It is best to send the agenda to participants in advance.
  •    Call key participants to ensure they know what is expected of them and have time to prepare.
  • Control the meeting by :

– Sharing and enforcing ground rules.

– Listening.

– Allowing free exchange of ideas.

– Using win-win techniques.

– Summarizing.

  • In formal meetings, arrange for a parliamentarian to serve. Participants :
  • Know your reasons for attending a specific meeting and your expected outcome.
  • Stick to the agenda once it’s approved.

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