Category Archives: lessons

Packaging your message

I attended a course today called “Think on your feet” which teaches communication skills. To illustrate the point that the message has to be positioned and packaged so as to be acceptable to the listening party, the trainer told a joke.

Some people are not comfortable with packaging and “selling” their ideas in ways that are very different from their own internal values and beliefs. I think this is a good example of how one can package the same message convincingly in different ways and yet not be lying (too much) to the audience.

The story goes that the Titanic was sinking and the captain realised that there were not enough life boats and life jackets to go around. This was one of the reasons why there were so many casualties during that tragic accident. To jump off the ship without a life jacket was to run a very high risk of dying so the captain tried to convince the men to do so and to save life jackets for the women and children. (Ah those times of selfless chivalry. Anyway.) The captain came across a group of British gentlemen and tried to appeal to their sense of honour. He told them that the honourable thing to do is to jump, and so the British gents did that. To the Americans he told them that it will be heroic for them to jump and save the life vests for those who need it more. To the Germans he told them that it was the rule. To the Japanese, it was the consensus. And all these people jumped overboard because they were convinced. The reason appealed to something in their culture and so it was accepted.

As this point some local joker must have added that for the Singaporeans he threw a life vest overboard and shouted that he is giving it away free. The Singaporeans jumped after the freebie and the Malaysians shouted “Malaysia Boleh!” and jumped after them as well. Of course there were no Singaporeans or Malaysians on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, but it struck a chord among us in the class. And by the way, Malaysia Boleh is a joke that anything Singapore does, Malaysia tries to follow and to say that they can do it also.

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Valentine’s Day

V-day is a very important day for ladies in Singapore, thanks to marketing. Here is one woman who saw through the illusion. She’s a regular contributor to Today.

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tooth extraction

My sunshine got one of her wisdom tooth extracted today. After 2 days of slight pain. On a public holiday, after 2 days of not really knowing where to find a 24hr dentist, and not really bothering to because it was only a slight pain. Well, the important thing is that she got it out, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

This is the first time I am witnessing a dental operation, where the gum is cut open (I think), the tooth broken up and removed, and finally the gum stitched up. The blood coming out of her mouth was a bit unnerving for me. Fortunately, she herself could not see it. I would be less worried if the operation was done on somebody else.

The doctor was a serious chap of few words. It helps a lot to have a dentist you trust, perhaps recommended by someone you trust, or at least the dentist must be someone who could make you feel comfortable. Which explains how a friend of mine could survive in his upmarket clinic in the business district while he is still a fresh grad. He could talk, he could say silly things that put people at ease. And his skill with the anesthetic was pretty good, to the point that I barely felt it on the receiving end.

Lesson learnt: In the service line, it really helps to be able to communicate with and reassure people. Your skills can be secondary, comforting them comes first.

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