Effective Communication?

When people begin the study of communication, their attitudes vary anywhere from “I think this would be a very important class: it is important to understand the communication process if I want to improve the effectiveness of my communication,” to “What a waste of time. I’ve been communicating all my life. Do I really need to take a course to understand communication?”

Whether or not we take a course in communication, there is considerable value in trying to refine our understanding of communication. To demonstrate, I will present two class exercises. In describing the exercises, hopefully some of the jargon common in the communications discipline (for example, encoding, decoding, channel, and congruence) will become clearer, and you will be at least a little more sensitive to trying to verify the effectiveness of your everyday communication approaches.

Sometimes, I wish I could turn my editing eyes off

… but if I did, then I would probably miss out on some of the fun that Indian English has to offer.

Democracy, aristocracy, plutocracy, meritocracy, and bratty students

I started the day today [note: as with “And when the numbers go against what you have always said….” this was written around a week ago] with my dictionary. I was trying to remember more precise definitions of things like democracy, aristocracy, plutocracy, and meritocracy because our topic of discussion for the day was “deepening grassroots democracy”.

And when the numbers go against what you have always said....

Today [note: this was actually written about a week ago, but I just got around to finishing typing it], around 400 DHANites got together to talk about poverty and our motivation to work with the poor. Our “reference” materials were a chapter from a book titled Moving Out of Poverty (one of the authors of this book was Amy’s teacher, by the way), some 35 questions from Vasi, the Executive Director of DHAN Foundation, and, of course, our experiences. One of the points of focus for discussion was a pair of pie-charts. The first was a set of factors which contribute to the poor “moving” out of poverty, and the second was on the factors which cause people to “fall” into poverty.

The (unbutchered) retreat report

I just came back from my first DHAN Foundation retreat (which I plan to write about later) and I also got two books filled with “retreat reports” from other DHANites. The retreat reports range from extremely dull to pretty fun to almost instructional. By design, they are meant to highlight the best and worst parts of your year, share what’s on your mind about work, introduce yourself to other DHANites, and be something personal. At least that was my understanding.

Do Indians have a sense of humor?

AKA “Irony over the stinky river….”

Sometimes, just when I begin to not have faith that Indians have a sense of humor, I run across something like this:

Marina Beach

AKA “The sweet smelling ocean spray on Chennai’s shores….”

Aah. Marina Beach. Great to go people watching. Good place to buy little silly plastic touristy stuff. Smell the fresh ocean breeze. Take a dip in the water to cool off.

Or should you?

Wetwo Brand

AKA “Population Control, Indian Style….”


AKA “Quick, shhh! The Big-boss has just entered….”

I was on the Tata-Dhan Academy vehicle the other day (or, as they like to call it, the “vee-kul”) and one of the passengers was the head of our organization. There was a notable hush over everyone in the van as we sat there waiting for the last members to shut down their computers and pack up to leave. Yet this is a time that most of the passengers chit-chat, play music on their mobile phones, finger drum on the seats, and generally enjoy themselves at the day’s end. But in front of me, two of my colleagues are whispering so quietly that I would guess their actual means of communication was by reading each other’s lips.

An interview with Ananda Mahto

Every year, pretty much everyone available from DHAN Foundation and its family of “themes” gets a chance to attend the “DHAN Retreat.” The retreat takes place in different places each year. There are also different themes each year.

Because of my surgery, I wasn’t able to attend this last retreat, which was somewhat unfortunate since I really like the place that the retreat was being held. (You can see some pictures of the location here; I visited some students back in 2007. It was pretty great.)

Although I wasn’t able to attend, I was asked to write a “retreat report” which gets published along with reports from some 350 or more colleagues of mine. I think I’ll have to bring the reports along with me for my long flights that I’m trying to book for the end of this month.

Anyway, I enjoyed writing my “report,” and figured some of you might be interested in reading it, so here it is: