Not able to voice up your bright ideas? Try these 3 tips.

A lot of us Asians were brought up taught to be polite, and to keep opinions to ourselves, so as not to create conflict.

The term to give face is Asian origin, which means to treat others with respect, and not to dishonour someone, and that someone includes ourselves. We do not want to lose face, saying something stupid.

We also tend to speak at a quieter voice, avoiding attention invited by louder voice.

Unfortunately, both of these traits make Asians appear too quiet, opinion-less, and boring, to the extent of dumb.

Of course, in reality, we are not dumb, and of course we do have strong opinions about a lot of things, but we Asians prefer to keep them to ourselves, do not feel the necessity to voice it out.

This characteristic is counter productive if we want to create the impression of someone capable and intelligent.

Also, introverts have more difficulty speaking out, as it is not in their nature. Speaking out comes with practice.

Here are some tips:

1.       Broaden your knowledge to general topics – news, sports, politics, social issues, etc. Use these topics to do small talk with any random person you meet – the person standing next to you in the shopping queue, the office janitor, your neighbour. Doing small talk helps build confidence.

2.       Talk loudly when you are alone. I do this often when I drive home. Learn to speak from the stomach, and not the mouth. Listen to how you sound, the voice, pitch, volume, language. Improve what you feel is necessary.

3. Be active in meetings. Start voicing up smaller, lighter opinions, topics, in order to practice speaking out. When you agree to something, say it out loud, with some short comments. Once you’ve gained more confidence, make attempts to suggest ideas, or ask questions. They may start simple, but your ideas can get bigger once you are more confident.

Do you have other tips on increasing the confidence to speak up? Do share with all of us.

What is Imaginary Audience and what’s it got to do with your teenager and social media?

With the COVID19 pandemic and the continuation of online homeschooling (PdPR) this year, I have had to give access to gadgets more frequently to my children. In nature, I am one of the parents who do not approve screen time for children – I do not install games to my smartphone, they are not informed of my smartphone’s passcode, and I reduce my own screen time at night when I am at home with them (to set an example).

Now, the new norm is online schooling (which basically is handing out homework online, with hopes that the students understand attached videos – though the teachers are not to blame here, mind you, they are just as beaten as parents are, but I blame the system’s response to the circumstances). I find myself obligated to hand smartphones for them to complete their homework on a daily basis. And now that they have access, they suddenly have freedom to explore more – surfing, Youtube, games, chatting with friends. And since all their other friends are doing it, too, I fear my previous control efforts will be futile.

In an effort to embrace this new norm while protecting my children, I am trying to understand more on what’s out there, and what I can do to make the best of the current situation.

Along the way, I came upon a book “Raising A Screen Smart Kid – Embrace the good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age” by Julianna Miner. This book starts with the same concerns as mine, over the dangers of early screen time in childhood. Although it is a little away from what I had hoped (I was looking for something for younger children (my children are in early elementary school, while this book was more to effects of social media to adolescents), it was indeed insightful. It begins with explaining about natural teenager psychology and self-esteem, peer pressure, facts about the social media and the effects, and moves on by how to protect them from dangerous online relationships, depression and anxiety, online bullying, digital addition, and so on.

While this article is not going to be a book review, there is an old concept which drew my attention.

This was the first time I come across the Imaginary Audience concept, introduced by David Elkind in 1967. The Imaginary Audience is the condition where adolescents believe that others are always watching and scrutinizing them. For example, a high school girl feels that everyone in school notices her new pimple, and are talking about it furiously, when in actual, no one really notices it, and even if they do, not everyone really cares.

Another concept is the Personal Fable, where teenagers believe that they are special and unique, but nobody understands them, and everything is awful. As teenagers, they tend to believe they are The One, hence the many teenager flicks play around teenage rebellion, and becoming heroes, such as Harry Potter, or Katniss Everdeen. “You don’t understand me!” sounds familiar, right?

These two notions have been studied in textbooks on adolescent development widely, and is thought to be the reasons for adolescents’ self-consciousness and risk-taking (thinking they are invincible). 

Raising A Screen Smart Kid points out, social media makes the Imaginary Audience become real. Whatever activities you are doing in social media (commenting, sharing etc) is seen by so many people, even globally, and can even create permanent damages. 

The book proceeds to give several tips on how to address this issue, how to prepare adolescents before they begin social media activities, or making mistakes that may leave a permanent scar. And the best part is how to actually use the social media to the advantage of the adolescents. You’ll have to read the book to find out (no, this not a paid advertisement).

I love this book because it explains the dangers and the whys, and finally suggests practical advise on how parents and help their adolescents avoid making mistakes, and instead, take advantage of the digital age.

No matter what the book says, there are still several general rules for screen time that is suggested by many professionals, among are:

  • Consider children’s level of maturity before starting screen time, evaluating his ability to response to the exposures on the internet and social media
  • Set time limits – all gadgets in parents’ room at bedtime
  • Parents must have passwords to all accounts

Parenting can be as tough as managing engineers at work…

The common mistake executives make about meetings, and how you can avoid it

So much time is spent on holding meetings. While the employer is not paying us for having meetings, some formal discussions and announcements are necessary in order to make a certain decision.

Many executives fall into the trap of furiously preparing for a meeting, yet become frustrated when the whole presentation or proposal is totally rejected after presenting in a meeting.

This is because they make the mistake of believing that a meeting is a platform to discuss.

The truth is, no one likes to make decisions after a one hour bombardment of information from another party.

Decision making is comfortably done when a person has enough information and time to weigh the advantage and risks.

This is why, the real negotiation and discussions, are done prior to meetings. The more experienced executives and leader know, that the most guaranteed way to receive a greenlight to their proposal in a meeting is, to discuss with the concerned parties in advance, separately if needed. Details are laid over before the real meeting, and concerns are reviewed in advance. The official meeting only works as an official one hour with all parties, to go through all information together, and officially make the decision.

So the next time you have that brilliant idea to share in a meeting, don’t spend your precious time in preparing the slides. Instead, approach the concerned parties in advance, discuss and negotiate concerns before you step into the meeting. You’ll find the next 1 hour presentation and discussion a real breeze.

Introducing Afzan Mentor

For as long as I have known, I enjoy sharing knowledge with people.

Be it on my hobbies (cooking, baking, travelling), or my recent read books or movies. When I was doing my degree in Japan, I had blogs to share my experiences with family and friends. I wrote about that new pie restaurant I went to with Kayo-san that had that lovely blueberry pie, and about my fun trip climbing Mount Fuji with my besties, and even about how my university looked during the peak white winter season.

Those were fun days.

Fast forward a decade later, I am in the manufacturing industry, managing a team of engineers and technicians. Throughout my career, I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs, read books about management and related, and met with some great people along the way. Continue reading “Introducing Afzan Mentor”

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