Eye for an Eye

 

You only value something when you no longer have it!

I have lost loved ones, I have lost material objects, have been picked pocketed and have lost good friends. But 22 October of 2016 was a day that I pray will never happen to me again. It was the day that I lost my vision.

Eye

Let me rewind the story and share with you my own experience and point out, how fortunate we are today because of science, technology and the innovative ideas of few people. It’s been almost an year now and recently two of my colleagues asked me how I am feeling and inquired about my eye condition. Hence the memory of the shock and pain.

I have been suffering from a condition that steadily degrade and destroy my retina. For those of you familiar with the anatomy of a human eye will know that this is the area where the photosensitive nerve cells capture light and helps us recognize images. The diagram below gives you a quick biological anatomy.Eye Anatomy

If you are familiar with digital camera technology, this is like the CCD – charge coupled device, an integrated circuit etched onto a silicon surface forming light sensitive elements called pixels. In my retina, a pin head size point called the Fovea of the right eye is badly affected. To make a long story short, no central vision. That makes reading and recognizing objects a tremendous challenge.

An Year ago, the condition was getting bad and I had to undergo a procedure called Photodynamic Therapy, a cold laser treatment of the eye to take a preventive measure from making a bad situation worse and to buy time from a gradual but complete loss of vision. The photo here shows how badly my retina is affected. Anton EYE

Scared, anxious and with a worried mind, I started to search the net, read, watch videos and consulted experts to understand how this procedure is done, what will be the possible results, drawbacks, what my options are, which country or hospital is best and the cost etc. I found that the chance of achieving my goal, that is controlling the situation has a 60% success, I will be visually impaired temporarily and there is a high chance that something can go wrong and I may not have vision again.

In my research, I found that a group of people ( most of them blind) have developed a cleaver applications that run on iPhone to assist and make life easier for the visually impaired and for the blind. KNFB Reader is this app. I watched videos how two blind persons demo its capabilities and how they can practically deal with day to day life. It was $99 and one time purchase. Combined with Siri, KNFB reader proved to be a remarkable tool. I practiced and learned how to use it, voice control it and understood what I needed to do for improving accuracy. Next was the issue of dealing with the constant flood of emails and my work. I found Windows Narrator and Cortana a fantastic combination that can help me with this part of the challenge.

Knowing that I have some technology support, morale support and assistance from my family, on 22 October 2016, I bravely went to SNEC ( Singapore National Eye Center) for the procedure. Soon after, I was blind. 8 days I had to be in complete darkness. No sunlight, no bright light and was confined to my hotel room. I realized what isolation means for prisoners. By the third day, I was bored to death. I grabbed my phone and got Siri and KNFB to help me. First was simple tasks like reading the time, room service menu and finding my medication. Soon graduated to reading mail, doing simple replies to text messages and e-mails. By the end of that week I was doing longer e-mails, reading documents with a great deal of difficulty and trying to get to a near normal life. During this ordeal, I was mid-way of an important on-line course and a couple of urgent deals to follow. None of them suffered and I was able to manage all my work with a great deal of effort. Visibility started to improve by the 6th day, on the 11th day I purchased a plastic magnifying card to read printed documents and only use the KNFB app if I can’t still make out things. Fortunately, the procedure had worked and I was able to restore the damage to some extent. A lot more to be done but this was already good. I managed to save one eye.

Advancement of technology and science has helped people like me and others with worst situations to navigate difficult times and enjoy life. Today we have companies building implants that will allow visually impaired to navigate the world. When I was a kid, I enjoyed a TV series called ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ ( Played by Le Majors). Science fiction at its best back in the day! The Character had a bionic Arm, Leg and an Eye.Bionic Eye

Many decades later, Cannon has produced something very close to this bionic eye. I am sure, with continued funding and dedication of passionate engineers, we are not far from the day of walking in to a hospital, getting a bionic eye implanted and walking out to experience how beautiful this word is. I am truly grateful for all those people who have tirelessly worked to make iPhone and KNFB became an Eye for my Eye.

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86% of CEOs consider digital as their number one priority

#1 Priority of CEOsThey believe that technology will transform their business more than any other global trend. Digital transformation has now become a strategic initiative for organizations to shift their business to the next growth phase.

Digital Transformation (DT) is a good conversation starter for an organization that is wanting to reinvent or transform to the next growth phase of their business by leveraging the digital revolution that is taking place. But before embarking on this journey, it is important to first understand why you want to transform and what do you intend to achieve? – Understanding the purpose, the expected outcome and having a shared vision is fundamental to ensure high success rate.

Web enabling an existing application or porting it to a mobile interface does not mean that we have digitally transformed. DT is a transformational process which may result in fundamentally re-engineering business functions, organization, our work styles and thinking.

At a recent workshop on how technology is impacting HR, I presented ideas on how DT is transforming HR functions. We see three important changes that are taking place worldwide in organizations.

  • Digital workforce: Employees are more digital than before, with the widespread adoption of social media, consumerization of IT and accessibility of Internet, a larger proportion of workforce have become digital natives. The trend is growing and as the digital savvy millennials enter workforce, they will demand new work styles, services and tools.
  • Digital workplace: We see how organizations redesign and modernize working environment to enable productivity and collaboration; use modern communication tools (such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams, and many others); and promotes engagement, wellness, and a sense of purpose leveraging digital technology.
  • Digital HR: Organizations have started to transform HR functions to take advantage of digital benefits. Digital tools and apps are used for consuming HR services, cheaper and faster. Digital HR solutions are now gaining attention as they provide agility, ability to innovate and engage people to foster a culture of inclusion, collaboration and growth.

 

The transformation trends in HR is driving organizations to rethink how they should engage with employees, empower them with the right information and tools, optimize HR processes and transform the HR functions.

IMG_0877Consumerization of HR Systems, digitization & transformation of performance evaluation and feedback, innovation in learning and development, the transformations that are taking place in talent scouting, selection and recruitment combined with the increased application of data analytics with artificial intelligence are the trends that will continue to drive significant innovation and transformation not only in HR but throughout the entire business. Having a trusted and capable technology partner that can help you navigate this journey is very important.

 

A third world developing country forever!

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For over one hundred years SRI Lanka, an island located south of India in the Indian Ocean has been a third world developing country. Successive governments since 1948 independence from Great Britain has promised its constituents to take the nation to a developed country status with economic prosperity and better standards of living. Of course there have been many set backs but the people like to still believe that elusive dream. Let me put some thoughts why this will remain an elusive dream.
Over the years successive governments have genuinely tried to give the constituents a good deal. Healthcare through government hospitals is free. Rural families and pregnant women also have access to medical services though standard and frequency may be low compared to the cities. Education is free. Text books and uniforms are free. University education is free. Most university graduates expect government to provide them with a job. Government is over staffed but yet due to graduate protests and to curb the unemployment, these young graduates are absorbed. With not much work and the duties far below the education standard (graduates are over qualified) they either don’t do their job or continue to agitate for promotions disrupting the normal operations of government institutions. Undergraduates also protest frequently for various reasons and universities are often closed for weeks and months resulting in a long delay, sometimes as much as eight years for graduation. A loss of productive workforce to the nation.

STEM students who graduate are on the decline and within few years, it will be hard to find graduates from state universities to work in Science, Technology and Engineering fields. Needless to say that innovation and technological achievements by local graduates will be only a dream. Hence the development will suffer. Not having the right skill sets and the right attitude will not help either. We will forever be a developing country for sure.

Over the years since 1948, governments have been dolling and bailing farmers when crops are affected due to drought, floods, over production or any other calamity. Honest farmers are hardworking and supporting them is a good guesture. However it has now created a notion that for any and all reasons, if farmers crops are affected, they don’t get a good price for their produce, then the government must compensate them. The irony is that farmers consider this as insurance and don’t want to take the risk. Don’t want to explore new technology and want the government to keep dolling them the fertilizer, agriculture loans which perhaps not repaid in full and also guarantee high price for produce, irrespective of quality.

Many other sectors have their own scenario except few such as apparel sector that is doing amazingly well and contributing to the GDP. Tea is another agriculture sector that has been contributing to the GDP. However various issues, politics and shortage of labour has threatened this sector and dwindled its economic contribution. Value adding is not very prevalent but few companies are making an effort to make their mark at a global level.

Protests are a common factor today. Almost everyday there is a protest and protestors continue to disrupt lives of people. Protests should be a right of the people but not at the expense of public nusance and inconvenience on a daily basis. These are adding to the loss of productivity and output. Repercussions will be tax burden on a segment of people.

The middle income earners who are salaried employees carry most of the burden by way of indirect tax and for a small subsegment, direct tax. The middle and upper middle continue to struggle and save what they can to meet never ending expenses which is a common factor in most economies. The super rich probably either pay far below their due tax or escape altogether.

Government politicians are largely corrupt and getting bolder by the year. Corruption is institutionalized and fighting against the system is futile. The wines of corruption has spread to the judiciary and institutions set up to protect law and order. From the garbage collector to the high court judge bribes are a common factor.

Recently a Minister challenging a business community gathering and asking anyone who has not paid a bribe in their life to standup was amusing for me. I was shocked and awed when the Minister himself stood up. So much so, politicians are daring to play jokes on this matter.

The opposition is opposed to anything and everything. Sabotage and toppling the government seems to be the prime objective. The bunch are no better or even worse than the present regime. Both sides play the game and hoodwink the constituents to win the next ballot.

The constituents will impatiently wait for the next election, cast their vote to their favorite party and hope for a better tomorrow. The history repeats itself and life goes on.

SRI Lanka, an island nation with majority of its citizens having an island mentality will remain hoodwinked by the politicians they elect. Will continue to yearn for a developed nation and hopelessly wait hoping for a better tomorrow. It will always be a third world developing country forever!

The Shift, Drift and the Truth

The state of The Fourth Estate, Social Media and our collective responsibility

Press Cartoon

The ‘Fourth Estate’ may be a term that is not so common to many readers and it refers to the print media or journalism. The origins of this terminology goes back to a statement made by British Politician Edmund Burke. To simplify, there are three Estates that control and govern a county; The Executive, The Legislative and The Judiciary. The fourth estate refers to the press that act as the watchdog which is important for the functioning of a democracy. Hence the press ( or more precisely the Journalist) plays an important and critical role in many aspects. The most important of these aspects is the responsibility to report any concerns, corruption, risk to democracy and communicate to the public the good, the bad and the ugly of the three estates in a responsible and truthful manner.

Over the years, we have seen how journalist and the popular print media has been able to influence the general public and thereby swing public opinion. With technological advancement, we moved from print media to Television. News channels sprang up, built up credibility via excellent and up to the minute reporting, gained public confidence, followership and became the force in altering public opinion. The power of the electronic and print media combined was a force to recon with for many politicians and governments. The new fourth estate was able to influence, swing and move public opinion like never before. They became powerful politically, economically and socially, thus the rise of media tycoons. With deep pockets and a cash generating business, they were able to deploy resources to influence the other three estates. The fourth estate rose to become a significant force, more powerful than the other three and became the puppeteer of the legitimate three estates.

 

The Shift

The Shift Drift and TruthPoliticians in democratic systems and governments need popularity, secure the voter base and polarize the public. They had to support the fourth estate to gain and retain their individual popularity. In return, the fourth estate wanted and lobbied for more freedom. Thus press freedom became an essential element and “protection” for media and journalist became a mandatory requirement in a democratic society. ( this is a good thing by the way). With new found “immunity”, the press, journalist and the electronic media got steroids to investigate, question, report and drive public opinion ( either for or against) the three estates. The public was now able to get the juicy stuff, the inside stories and the corridor discussions within political circles, businesses and regulatory bodies. (Again a good outcome) The public started to believe and trust their favorite print or electronic media than the three estates. I must note that the judiciary was still held in high confidence and esteem by the public, despite the exposures of some judges who either abused or broke the law. The shift from being a watchdog, a responsible reporter or whistleblower role began and the fourth estate played an increasingly prominent role in forming, storming and breaking democratically elected governments. Creating politicians and ruining the ones that they don’t like.

 

The Drift

The proliferation of smartphones, pervasive connections to the Internet, the rapid growth of social media and its increasing integration with our lives has made each individual ( with a smartphone, social media account and connection to the world wide web) a reporter. Suddenly the power of the fourth estate is now in the hands of its followers. The new fourth estate is the Citizen. People post stories, pictures and videos, share them and make their opinion without responsibility and accountability. All four estates are now in tatters with this new drift. Legislators are scrambling to find ways to control and the judiciary is challenged with the archaic laws. All this while, the new “reporters” are having a field day, reporting anything and everything they want. Each story, each incident, highly opinionized, biased and one-sided. The responsible journalism is ignored.

The-Less-You-Know-The-More-You-BelieveThe fourth estate, realizing the drift and understanding that their model is disrupted, joins the bandwagon for survival and want of control. Now a reporter, a media newsman can report anything they like, view it in any angle they want, express any opinion. It’s no longer about the truth of the story reporting but in getting the story out first. Getting the most views and the best audience capture is the game. Media ratings became more important than anything else. Hence the drift from responsible journalism to the freedom of dispensing wholesome garbage to the public.

 

The Truth

Responsible reporting, the need to check and verify the story and getting the whole story is no longer relevant to stay on top of the pile. Taking something out of context, twisting it around with cleaver tactics and dispensing the garbage to the viewers and readers is the new normal for the media companies running news channels, talk shows, radio programs and all forms of “expert discussions”. The media mafia has anchored firmly and well-oiled to deliver the arsenal.

Fake NewsI have a habit of watching the daily evening news of a favorite local TV channel in Sri Lanka. I am appalled to find that the news they dispense day after day, paints a gory picture of the Nation. A Nation heading for doom, stories that make people lose faith and hope on the three estates, disturbing news around death, murder and suicides. What objective are they trying to achieve? They are transforming the viewers to a psychopathic society. A society that will be immune to violence, a society that will consider violence as the only form of justice and create divisions within society, religion and gender. Experts in human psychology are busy with their heads buried either in research or billing at hospitals. They have no interest in dispensing any advice to reverse the trend.

I remember the term GIGO many years ago when I learned programming as a teenager. Garbage In, Garbage Out. That is what we are doing every day. We are running a process of feeding garbage to the whole world. We are creating a society that feeds on garbage. The impact is irreversible.

 

The Reality

Each and every one of us has the power, freedom and ability to report what we want and how we want. We do so by saying it is our personal opinion and we seek refuge in the freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Yet we don’t take the responsibility for the impact, the insults, the humiliation and the trauma others face from our publications, be it a simple post, a video or simply sharing another story or re-tweeting something. The truth is no longer relevant for many people, they must get the story out fast. Ensure they get the most number of likes and views. Drive the most controversial comments and make it the most discussed and talked about story in the social media. What form of society we are creating? We then create a post condemning others, making opinions and insults whoever point us wrong or try to correct us and we shamelessly commit the same mistake over and over again. The truth is no longer popular, what matters is how shocking, how vulgar and how filthy your story is. Some people’s sole objective is to post violence and gory picture on social media. Some stories are new some are decades old!

social-media-newsIt’s time to take a stand, even if you are a minority in the new social media jungle. Take a stand to stop this trend, educate yourself with the truth and practice responsible reporting or posting. If you don’t share a vulgar story, comment on a story that create negative public opinion or a story which is far from the truth, then stop it. It’s better to walk away rather than create a further mess

Transformative Negotiation – by creating value

Group of business people and men bowing reflected onto table wit

In the corporate world, there are a ton of books, articles and papers published on negotiation. We find that corporates train their executives either via a systematic process or ad-hoc, to become successful negotiators. Yet most negotiations when concluded, leaves one party less happy about the outcome. Theories, books and training on negotiation articulates four potential outcomes ranging from Win-Win, Win-Lose, Lose-Win and Lose-Lose. Though we deliberately start the negotiation promising ourselves that we want a Win-Win position, how often do we end up otherwise? Have you ever looked back at the negotiation process to analyze if that Win-Win negotiation got you enough value? Did the other party get enough value? How much value got eroded during the process of negotiation? So was it really Win-Win for both parties?

Some of you may refuse to agree with me. Yet if you truly reflect upon the most successful negotiations you have done, what more could you have done to make it great? Did it really generate the value you originally envisaged? If not, then what might have been the factors that eroded the value? If you were aware of these factors, would you have negotiated better?

Negotiations need a transformative approach, especially in business where companies collaborate  to enhance their business. Though the primary concern of each company engaged in negotiation is to get the best possible deal for each of them, it’s also important to visualize, analyze and articulate the collective value both companies can create and thus benefit from. This is the core concept of Value Negotiation. The purpose of this short article is not to preach about Value Negotiation, but to make you aware and point you towards some resources, simple techniques and ideas that might help you become a better negotiator in creating value.

Value Negotiation in my opinion has three parts. Preparation, Negotiation and Value Capture. The most important aspect here is Preparation. The more you are aware of the issue, your company, the other party, their circumstances, the present state of business ( for both) and potential outcome that both parties would want – you are better equipped for the process.

Negotiation is a complex process. It involves many elements and each element has to be carefully managed. Communication, Relationship, Commitment, Alternatives, Options, Legitimacy and Interest are all integrated and intertwined elements that makes or breaks the negotiation. Bargaining or taking positions, anchoring your offer and power-play all lead to value erosion and ultimately a less than desired outcome.

Value creation and capture occurs only if both parties are willing to engage and commit to make each other successful. It will require a great deal of interdependence, sharing of interests, building relationship and compromising for a better outcome.

If both parties end-up getting much more than what was originally envisaged, then you have nailed it. If the negotiation lead to more opportunities for both parties individually and collectively, then you have created value. If both parties can monetize these opportunities, then you have captured the value.

Professor Horacio Falcão is an Affiliate Professor of Decision Sciences at INSEAD. I was fortunate to engage in his Value Negotiation short course and would like to share one of his articles in the public domain here

The video link given here will also give you a better idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMOFLH96SP0

Do you think Value Negotiation is something you would like to try? I encourage you to do your own research. Read more about it and share ideas with like minders to improve your chances of succeeding.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU

We are living in a world where cyber warfare is no longer a futuristic fiction.

Cybercrime has grown into a global criminal syndicate where billions of dollars are made. It is also interconnected with other crime operations and evolving with technology. Cyber criminals are ahead of the curve and law enforcement authorities are forever playing catch-up

.Cyber the new nuclear

Governments, organizations, celebrities and citizens are no longer exempted from a possible cyber crime act. Cybercriminals have penetrated many high profile organizations, government sites and individual’s personal accounts and devices. They are listening, watching and waiting for the right opportunity. You may not know that they have set up a listening post and in fact, they may not even harm your systems, but you may be “harboring” malware that may permit criminals to attack a high profile target. Perhaps you may be the unsuspecting “transporter” caring the lethal payload.

FBI Director recently said that there are two kinds of big companies. There are those who’ve been hacked, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.

FBI Director

If your organization belongs to the later or if your CIO (or you) believe that no cybercriminal or malware can get into your computer systems, your CEO, Board of Directors and investors should be worried about it. There are ample examples of how a cyberattack can cripple operations of a business and put everyone in a spin, triggering the propensity to make poor judgement and weak decisions by the management, often this can lead to much larger reputational and financial damage to an organization.

Lost records

Imagine your systems get lock downed by ransomware. Your confidential customer information compromised, sold to an underworld syndicate who might use the data for a variety of activities, ok including selling to telemarketing companies and through intermediaries to your competitors. Imagine the legal implications from customer lawsuits, reputational impact and customer churn.9 US Cyber attacks

The old school approach is to build defense in depth. Basically build more walls. “Firewalls” for those familiar with the jargon. Today organizations invest 70% to 80% of their security budget building walls and CIOs are quite content that no one can penetrate in. More like maximum security prisons. Do you know that latest threat in prisons are from air? Yes, drones!! Prison authorities are now scrambled to detect and prevent drones entering prisons.

Detection by far, is the most important aspect in combatting cybercrime. Experts suggest that if you invest 15% to 20% in detection you may be able to save nearly the same percentage in protection. You will know what protection systems work and what doesn’t. Often tighter protection comes with less flexibility on user productivity and may stun technological progress and innovation. Hence having some good detection methods can help implement advance, effective and robust defense systems. Today advance analytics of telemetry data, predictive analytics and machine learning is available to build sophisticated and intelligent cyber defense systems.

Once an attack is detected or when it is apparent you are compromised, it’s often too late. Not very many organizations invest enough to put in place a good response strategy. Most CIOs may be quick to point out that they have a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan. But has this been tested on a potential cyberattack scenario? Is it relevant to today’s context? How sure are we that backup systems are not compromised? Do you have a comprehensive business response plan? The permutations and combinations of scenarios will depend on the degree of openness of systems to the outside world. The absence of a response strategy or a poorly formulated response plan is more detrimental than the attack itself. In the panic stricken madness and chaos, organization’s may get shot in the foot. In fact, it may be one of the objectives of the attack.

A well thought-through response plan goes far beyond the emergency fire drill and computer backups. Again, companies tend to pay less attention here, they do not think through the steps and plans are poorly communicated to the staff. There may be ambiguity in the roles and responsibilities of the response teams and decision makers. “Let’s figure it out when it happens” might be the underlining attitude. Just think for a minute, how many of us pay attention to the airline on board safety messages, watch the video or the flight attendant and internalize what they say?

Timely detection and predictive analytics can help organizations to determine which response strategy must be invoked, what protection system must be strengthened and how the organization can get back to normalcy.

Remember cybercriminals are ahead of the curve in technology, they are streets ahead of the combatting guys, they are an organized criminal syndicate and it’s a multibillion if not multimillion operation. No organization can fight this alone. You need all the help that is needed from experts, specialized vendors and technology partners where security and protection from cyber attacks is part of their everyday business process.

MS Cyber Security

Above picture Source: https://www.microsoft.com/security/cybersecurity/#!Overview

Darth Vader is no longer an individual but a mean army of cyber attackers. A unified team of Jedi’s are needed.
So May the Force be with you.

 

Body Talks

people at meetings

It was a freezing Tuesday morning in Hanoi Vietnam and the temperature was showing 12 degrees Celsius. I showed up 10mts early for the customer appointment and was anxiously waiting for my colleague to join me. The customer was a state owned enterprise and we were meeting the deputy CEO. The account manager ditched the meeting last minute and it was me and my female colleague representing our company. I was hoping to give her last minute briefing before the meeting. Just 30second before 9AM, my colleague showed up. We were introduced to the nine people who were seated across the large table. The deputy CEO, senior heads from investments, operations, CIO, Head of legal and compliance, a lady interpreter and few more people. We were just two. It was a highly charged up meeting with weeks of tension building and many exchanges of letters. Opening statement was by the deputy CEO and it was in Vietnamese. I had no clue of what he said. But I got an idea from his body language and the voice variation. It didn’t sound friendly. My colleague was my impromptu interpreter. Throughout the meeting, I had a lot of time to think, compose my body language and wait patiently for my colleague to translate. I remembered some important basics of public speaking and communication. I made my sentences with clear unambiguous language and simple English to communicate my point. My colleague’s translations were very lengthy. I intended to keep to the point and respond with brief messages but the translated version of my message was getting longer at each interaction. I was getting nervous and anxious not knowing what my colleague was saying. After forty-five minutes, the tension had died out, the deputy CEO’s tone was much friendlier and there was a smile in his face for the first time. I was able to latch on to this and steer my conversation towards the outcome we wanted. Meeting ended after One hour and thirty minutes with an atmosphere very different to when we started. Few weeks later, we signed up with the customer – one of the biggest deals for the company in Vietnam.

Reflecting on this, I wondered, what did I learn? Did my toastmaster experience and public speaking training help me? Should I be learning Vietnamese? Will I be able to communicate effectively in a language that is foreign to me? Did my colleague translate everything I said? What did she miss out and what did she include? Why did she keep elaborating my responses? Did she really convey my message?

I also learned that in Vietnam, especially among officials at state owned organizations and for that matter in north, capital city Hanoi, rank and position when negotiating between parties are very important. Culturally women are still not perceived as ‘equal’ in such negotiations. To have a much junior female in rank engaged in a hard face to face negotiation with a senior official is extremely rare. In fact, it can turn out to be a disaster due to cultural sensitivity. Nevertheless, I thought the meeting went very well.

PeopleFew days after we had signed the deal, I was having coffee with my colleague and was reflecting on the meeting with the customer. To my utter surprise I found that most of my points were lost in translation. I was disappointed and surprised at the same time. But how did they understand all what I said? Well they probably understood it and the lady interpreter was a ploy. It was a way to avoid saying the wrong thing in a foreign language and also to buy time to think and compose their message. It was a clever tactic I thought. My colleague had tried to sanitize my harsh message and make it friendlier, softer, smoother and communicate in a very culturally accepted form. Hence the long message. But in fact, the intensity of my message was never lost!! They just pretend not to understand it.

Though I did not understand all what they said in Vietnamese, they did understand all what I said. I remembered that at the meeting my mind was busy trying to structure my thoughts and points and to be “effective” in my communication. I consciously choose my words, phrases, punch lines, pauses and use of body language to the best of my ability. But the most important learning for me was paying attention to the visible cues. The non-verbal signals of the audience. How they sit, how they look at you. The facial expressions, the tone of voice, what they do with their hands during the meeting. All of these give us an important feedback. They speak louder than words.

This experience has taught me many lessons. I have decided to take what I have learned and apply to the situation. I have realized how powerful body language can be and how it is equally important to pay attention to visual feedback. It is all abcouple faceout paying attention to your audience. I believe my toastmaster foundation has helped me to become a better communicator. But experience like this, especially in a culture that is unfamiliar to me, paying attention to body language is extremely important. The body talks…. The question is “are you listening?”