Sunday, 18 November 2012

Post #6

The biggest take away I have from this module would be something apparent in all aspects/assignments of the course: blogging, projects, reports, cv etc. This development is the trait of being in control whether it is in writing, presenting or speaking.

As I have mentioned previously, one will never feel completely prepared but we can choose to not let that negativity plague our work. Apparent in the first 2 blog posts and comments on others’, cv and preliminary portions of the project, how I crafted them was as such: list out as many points as possible, fit them together into sentences, and spending hours cutting them to fit the word count. This way, the points were controlling my writing rather than me exercising control over the writing.

The sheer quantity of points derived from trying to cover as much ground as possible often impeded my control over a task, compromising conciseness, clarity and coherence.

What was surprising about this realisation was that this was a take away applicable on a personal level as well considering it originated from a communication level. For much of the semester (if not my life) I have been trying to do everything as much as possible with regards to work. Likewise, it would be just as challenging to maintain control by trying to cover excessive grounds. So indeed less is more and what I have learned is to have a clear focus when writing or speaking, present the information in a concise manner and ultimately exercising control over the content.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Post #5


This is probably the area I have learnt the most from. Indeed one will never ever feel completely prepared but the thing though is to maintain control over your preparation. Indeed less is more. It was always apparent only through the various consultations with Brad or feedback received that I had a persistent problem of trying to cover as much ground as possible: address multiple problems and try to link them; come up with as many solutions as possible and try to connect them to one problem hoping that all are relevant. As such much of the material prepared had to be discarded (too much content, lack of focus – potentially confusing etc.)

Large portions of my speech had to be constantly altered or discarded as well. In fact the main body of the final speech I presented was drawn up the night before after realizing the irrelevance of the previous drafts. The team agreed that while it was less comprehensive, it was definitely more focused and easier to follow.


Could probably better familiarize myself with use of technology: slides probably still had the most words; was probably the only person to use the primitive whiteboard in place of animations, weird positioning of the whiteboard etc. I was however comfortable in presenting information through a balanced mix of memorisation and improvisation thus not having to over-rely on either. Perhaps I could use more impactful pictorials strategically fitted to phrases in future.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Post #4 Evaluating Intercultural Behaviour

It was the year 2003 and Paul and I arrived at Andrew’s house eager for a day of console games. As we made our way in, I noticed very unique features of the house. It was heavily decorated with Chinese words, symbols, statues of unfamiliar idols, stone lions and artistic crystal ornaments. Certain idols were provided an altar with burning incense.

Andrew and his family were devout Taoists, hence the appearance of the house. In contrast, Paul was a staunch Christian and was devastated with what he saw.

Paul: “Andrew! You can’t be worshipping demons!”

Andrew: “They are not demons! It’s my religion just like yours.”

Paul: “I know you think they are but there is only one God, and if you continue worshipping demons, you will burn in hell.”

Andrew: “By cursing me, it doesn’t make you Christians any better!”

Each religion tends to foster the belief that only their own is real. As such, two overzealous members of different religions engaging in a debate regarding the matter is a recipe for disaster. Paul was accustomed to the fact that any idol other than the Christian God is associated with evil. While there was a harmless motivation to spread his religion’s gospel, it would have been useful to be more accepting that Andrew was exposed to his culture through his background for most of his life and that even conversion could not happen overnight. Also, due to the nature of his religion, Andrew regarded “burning in hell” as an offensive remark rather than a mere suggestion of consequence. Yet by regarding Paul’s remark as a negative representation of Christians, Andrew has likewise committed an unreasonable judgment of another religion.

It is critical that we understand that religions are meant to give people a sense of identity and ultimately inculcate values as long as they do not involve immediate harm to people. Hence we should respect differences in traditions and customs while celebrating similarities of shared human culture.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Assignment #3

Renick Lee
4 Pandan Valley
Singapore 597628
(+65) 9139 8339 (m)

16 September 2012

Dr Craig Stenberg, Associate Dean (Student Affairs & Admissions)
c/o Ms Tammie Zhu, Assistant Admissions Manager
Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore
Admissions Department
8 College Road
Singapore 169857

Dear Dr Craig Stenberg,

Application for Duke-NUS MD program 2013 intake

I am currently a Bioengineering undergraduate student at NUS and in writing this letter wish to express my interest in being considered for the Duke-NUS MD program.

Traits of mine that would be valuable to this opportunity are my passion for helping others and constant desire to learn. In being part of a team that educated and sourced jobs for unemployed such as ex-convicts and war veterans I learned to value the process of interacting with someone who is subjected to an unfortunate situation of which I am unfamiliar with and come out of the experience with added perceptions if not different.

Being trained in Bioengineering has equipped me with various skills in clinical settings while grappling with ethical issues. Interaction with various personnel ranging from patients to clinicians through projects has contributed to my versatility in effective communications in very differing situations and environments and most importantly how to react under various forms of pressures.

Having studied and worked overseas, I have developed skills in numerous leadership and teamwork settings that nurtured my independence and resilience to be more resourceful and confident. My experience in the contexts of foreign professional and academic settings would enable smooth transitions into leading team-based collaborations with your diverse and globalized multidisciplinary body. Also, being bilingual would further facilitate my communicating potential with representatives of different communities and generations.

It would be an honour to be accepted into such a prestigious program committed to developing future leaders in medicine with your innovative pedagogy and encouraging cooperative-learning culture.

Thank you for your time in considering my application and I look forward to meeting you if I have met the criteria. I am contactable via my Email and mobile number above.

Yours sincerely,

Renick Lee

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Lack of EQ Factor in X Factor?

“The X Factor” is a broadcasted singing competition where viewers vote for their favorites and each week, a contestant gets eliminated.

A young contestant, Astro, fell in the bottom two based on votes and had to perform again to compete with another to stay in the competition. However, he refused to perform in a fit of anger. Witness the dispute between Astro and Simon Cowell (one of the judges) at 3:00 here:

Cowell reprimanded Astro for his poor attitude, but achieved little success of getting through to the boy. Astro's body language showed signs of blatant disregard, in turn generating huge waves of boos from the studio audience.  By the end, he was in tears.

Being flawed in managing emotions, Astro cracked under pressure and acted without reflection. His reactions to comments showed that he did not take criticism well. He also failed to consider the impression he would establish with everyone watching.

He might have been unwilling to accept that his performance could be improved and lost motivation to remain effective in a less than ideal situation. Perhaps he lacked self-confidence and needed affirmation through popularity or maybe he was so proud that elimination seemed unbearable leading to self-bred fear that prevented him from stepping up to a challenge.

Worth mentioning is Astro’s background of a rough childhood, suggesting a social aspect to the reason for his actions. Perhaps that was how society taught him to react when hurt, plagued by pessimism and oblivious to the choice to be in control. He failed to recognize that his actions impacted others that he was interacting with.

With the situation escalated as such, what do you think Astro should have done to resolve the conflict between himself and Cowell?


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Breaking Down Why Effective Communication is Important to Avoid Communication Breakdown

An incident happened involving my job in New York. My hostel had no internet access so although I was aware of an appointment happening the next day, I could not check my email for updates on the time scheduled. Checking my email only in the morning at work, I realized I had missed it. I approached my boss to inform him of my plan to reschedule it immediately.
Various aspects of this incident illustrated how critical effective communication is in interactions. Firstly, we live in a world where being unconnected is not an option. With literally all information available on the internet, we are connected globally and everyone has access to all forms of knowledge.
Secondly, mistaken assumptions undermine communication. With that in mind, we should always apply a measure of conservativeness when making assumptions. The incident might have been avoidable if I had considered the possibility of the appointment taking place in the morning and made a phone call to be sure. The repercussions did not just involve missing an appointment but also included communicating an inappropriate impression. In a hurry to propose a solution, my follow up actions failed to consider corporate culture or communicate remorse.
Just one personal anecdote illustrated several examples of the need for effectiveness in communicating successfully, but the applications are limitless. Education is readily accessible but its how one communicates value in his degree that wins the job. According to Bergson, intellect is not presenting knowledge but presenting it in such a way that we may act on it. Long reports are becoming obsolete while conveying essential information efficiently is value-added. Personal regrets are usually attributed to ineffective communication be it ruining of plans due to unclear communication of schedules or missing once in a lifetime opportunities.
Better timed and planned communication allows for misunderstandings to be revealed early for rectification. Confidence is essential as opportunities favour the bold while egoism is detrimental to communication as it elicits barriers to message channels. It is also important to consciously communicate with oneself by learning and not repeating mistakes.


Monday, 20 August 2012


This post is for the politically interested. I decided to include it in the blog as there is a good paragraph (the longest) I have dedicated to communication.

Since this is a political discussion, Please accept and agree to my terms and conditions before proceeding to read:
i) Neither of my parents are lawyers
ii) I am not a lawyer and am not currently studying to be one
iii) There are no lawyers behind me or in the same room of which I am reading this
iv) None of my siblings in any way violate i) ii) and iii).
v) I am not currently engaged in any hearings or court proceedings or in direct contact with any lawyers that I have immediate access to.
vi) I do not have any friends that are in violation of i) ii) iii) iv) and v)

Thank you for your understanding. If you are in any way violating any of the above points please redirect yourself here:

If you have accepted the conditions, here it is, read on:

In my personal opinion, Singapore is not a Nation or at least not yet. Rather, she is one in the making. I would also like to urge others not to be inclined to label her as one based on an unwarranted association of not being a nation with something negative.

Cultures are evident in Singapore, but a distinct one not observed elsewhere is a rare occurance. With all due respect, I apologize but using tissue packets to reserve seats does not constitute a culture at all. Cultures should have an educational or appreciational aspect whenever a foreigner receives exposure.

Due to the period of Singapore's independence establishment in the mid 1900s, there just have not been enough time for Singapore to fully establish herself as a nation or possess generations of shared historical experience for that matter. It is not logical to compare her with nations like America where their history dates back to way before and when it was more possible for individual races to be established. Also, at that time, mordernization was a more important thing to work towards globally to achieve a foothold in the world.

Regarding language, English has been a useful channel of commonality but in terms of having one of its own, my argument above holds. Jonathan Bok's note that Singaporean's spoken languages in addition to english had their own style was very insightful of which I would not have considered had I not read his post. He elaborated that mandarin spoken by Singaporeans sound different from mainland China. In a way I feel that possessing a language of a country's own would require that language to be acknowledged by means of accessibility through education in schools also in an attempt to achieve ligitimacy so that foreigners can be exposed to it officially. Once again due to timing, it was impossible for Singapore to achieve that. Rather, things like singlish and differently accented mandarin were ways of Singaporean to adapt given her circumstance. For example, I feel that I can convey more information in singlish in 3 seconds as compared to any other language. The accents unique to Singapore are in my opinion ways to facilitate communications between different ethnic groups be it teaching one word mandarin or short sentences to a malay friend for fun or communicating with someone possessing fundamental grasp of the language. If an Indian is going to correspond in mandarin, it is obvious that his accent is going to be anything but that of mainland Chinese and replying in such is at the very most non-ideal, thus the accents established are the best possible compromise between more than one ethnic groups. So although it does not meet the criteria for a checklist item, it has achieved a more critical selling point, efficiency.

Thus if a checklist for being a nation includes having unique ethnicity or culture, it was impossible for Singapore to possess that but it has not set Singapore behind or in any way inferior to nations. Singapore's nation building was a process of adapting to the times and rising to the challenges of the modern world. Perhaps objective definition of a nation is not applicable to Singapore but rather, it requires a subjective and psychological one.

Singapore has achieved certain items on the checklist: according to Gellner, nationalism engenders nations. Also she has a well defined territory, community occupied homeland, public culture, single economy etc. but times are changing and trying to achieve the traditional items on the checklist of being a nation may not neccessarily be the optimal solution for nation building in an increasingly globally connected world given its ever changing nature in social, political, economic and cultural contexts.The goals of the two are ultimately different, and I agree with PM Lee's notion that the aim of nation building is not tracing how connected people's origins are but how well they can be brought together.