MS 4100 Reflection Post

I am Saptarshi Prakash, a fifth year dual degree student of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras. This semester, I have opted for the course Soft Skills Development Workshop, offered by Dr Vijayalakshmi V of DoMS, IIT Madras.  This post describes a set of reflective practices that formed the backbone of the 6-week self-development training that we went through. 

Before I start writing about the course, I would like to spend some time talking about my own self and why I decided to take up this course. Personally, I am a cheerful, fun loving person and I thoroughly enjoy working with people. Over the years, I have developed the skill of establishing rapport with them easily. I like taking up various responsibilities, organizing events, leading as well as working as a team. Over the course of time, I did not just get used to taking responsibilities and managing things, in fact I started loving them. I had been the Class Leader all throughout my school life. Even in IIT, I have taken up almost all possible positions of responsibility and leadership. Be it Shaastra, Saarang, Mitr or Hobby Clubs; I have not left anything untouched.

My extrovert nature has helped me in building a wonderful network of friends and contacts. I work very hard and people know me as the leader, the go-getter. This has contributed a lot towards compiling an outstanding track record of achievements and experiences. I have good communication and interpersonal skills and I wish to refine it further. Hence, I felt that it was necessary to take up a formal course on Soft Skills Development, so that it gives me the best insight into the corporate world and shape me into better human being.

While going through the list of courses offered by the Department of Management Studies, Soft Skills Development Workshop (MS-4100) seemed to fit best into my needs and hence I ended up registering for this course.

Our ability to communicate effectively with others is important to personal and professional success. This part of the course is planned to help us in being familiar with the system and to assess our own interpersonal ability to sharpen our critical understanding of communication and improve interpersonal skills by means of innovative classroom teaching techniques.

We explored our own communication behaviours and identified areas of personal strengths and weaknesses. One-on-one feedback was taken and the common problems like stage fear, lack of confidence, body language etc. were identified and addressed in depth by means of fun games and activities. At the same time, there were group discussions, presentations, group activities and other relevant things, important from the point of view of campus placements. Such kind of a classroom scenario is a perfect for an extrovert person like me.

Key takeaways

Activities: The most important aspect of the activities had always been speaking and interacting with people. The Ice Breaking sessions got students to interact and talk to each other, and encourage subsequent classroom interactions. They were very useful at the beginning of the semester: for example, students going around the classroom and introducing themselves to each other.  This created a sense of community and focused the attention of the students on social life and self-development.

Feedback was taken from every student to know the areas in which they would like to focus on. I had listed my inability to talk about my achievements as one of my weaknesses. I was given a chance to speak about my strengths and weaknesses in front of the whole class. I spent around 10 minutes thinking about it before speaking. I realised that those 10 minutes of planning and structuring turned out to be useful. Later, I further worked on it, created a timeline of my achievements and drafted an interesting story of my life. Today, I am a lot more confident about tackling such questions in the interview.

Group Discussions: Group Discussions on relevant issues were conducted regularly, keeping placement preparation in mind. Detailed feedback was given on content, language, fluency, body language and eye contact.  Personal feedback was also given to all the participating students. Our group was given the topic ‘Social Network and privacy’. At the end our discussion, our group was suggested to keep their sentences short along with some other Do’s and Don’ts. Overall it was a very good experience.

Transaction Analysis: There are three parts to our personality parental, adult, or child-like way. Transactional analysis is necessary to understand and empower ourselves, relate and communicate with others.

The characteristics of the ego states:
Parent Ego State: Judgmental, critical, paternal/maternal, guiding, bossy, dictatorial, nurturing
Adult Ego State: Non-emotional, factual, information gathering of information giving
Child Ego State: Creative, curious, inventive, playful, childlike, joking, emotional

In the analysis, I scored almost equal points in all the ego states, which denotes that I am a kind of person who likes to explore every area of life. On the flip side, this could also mean that I try to push myself a little beyond my capacity by indulging in more number of activities, which may result in reduced performance in one or the other area.

Johari Window: I have taken anonymous online feedback from my friends, to fill up the ‘Blind’ portion of my Johari window. Here is what I have found.

After filling up my Johari window, I have carried out in-depth analysis to understand the feedback so that I can shift all the things under ‘Blind’ to ‘Open’.

Buddy Group Discussion: Small buddy group, comprising of 4 to 5 people were formed. The members of the buddy group were made to sit together and discuss about their real life problems. Our group discussed about the problems faced in concentrating in academics. We listened to each other’s problems and expressed our views. My personal problem had largely been distraction from the internet. My peers in the buddy group suggested that I keep the Ethernet cable unplugged from my computer and plug it only when I need it for some good reason. I have been trying it since then. I wouldn't say that there had been a drastic change in my study patterns, but it is surely better than what it used to be before.  

Guest Lectures: Lt. Col. Jayakumar, the Deputy Registrar of Placements, IIT Madras stressed a lot on the importance of effective communication. Having been in the defence and also in the industry for many years, he gave us a lot of insight into human psychology and professional ethics.

Overall, this course had been a wonderful experience so far. I have attended every single lecture and actively participated in all the group activities and discussions. I look forward to apply most of the things that I have learned in this course, all through my life.