Monday, July 25, 2016

Why Are Good Communication Skills Important?

Take a second and look at Human beings, really look at us. We’re not as strong as elephants or rhinos, we’re not as tough as lions or tigers and we can neither swim like fish nor fly like birds. Yet, despite all this, there is still one inescapable fact: Human beings are the dominant species on the planet.

The short answer to your question lies implicitly within the above paragraph. With good communication skills, a group of disparate individuals can overcome a great many obstacles by working together. It is believed that our earliest ancestors were able to ward off predators by sticking together in large groups and thus presenting a formidable target (as opposed to, say, a buffet). We were also able to hunt prey much larger and stronger than ourselves (e.g. the woolly mammoth) by co-ordinating our efforts with good communication skills.

Such good communication skills are, not to put too fine a point on it, vitally important to the Human race as a whole. This excerpt from ‘Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution’ by Russian author Peter Kropotkin (1902), illustrates what we’re trying to say better than we ever could.

“Man is the result of both his inherited instincts and his education. Among the miners and the seamen, their common occupations and their every-day contact with one another create a feeling of solidarity, while the surrounding dangers maintain courage and pluck”

In other words, their shared lifestyle is a form of communication, the result of learned social primers and a lifetime of experience. It is the secret ingredient to our success as a species.

Good communication skills in the workplace operate along the same basic principles as they do outside the workplace. The goal is clarity, but equally, the speaker wishes to illustrate her point of view and encourage others to sympathize with it. This is why politicians pay their speechwriters as handsomely as they do.

Communication skills are also Vital to Human interaction. Humans are able to learn all sorts of things by listening for verbal cues that we are unconsciously primed to respond to. Information about a speaker’s age, class, race, gender and even occupation can be gleaned from the simple act of listening to a person. To quote Peter Trudgill’s book ‘Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society’ (1974),

“Different social groups use different linguistic varieties, and as experienced members of a speech community we have learnt to classify speakers accordingly”, for those interested - this is known as ‘social-class dialects’.

You might ask how this affects you. Well, consider this; if you are applying for a typically upper or middle class job (say, office manager as an example) and you speak with a traditionally working-class accent, vocabulary and demeanour during your interview, you are actually less likely to get the job than the applicant who uses received pronunciation and does not use colloquialisms or slang terms. You might be more qualified on paper, but the interviewer will likely say something about you not being “the right fit” for the position. This is because he has been primed to expect a certain type for a certain role. Therefore, good communications skills, in this instance at least, would hinge on your ability to appeal to listeners by meeting their expectations.

Of course, we now know that such distinctions are unfair. Combating expectations of class, race, gender and sexual stereotyping led to the rise of ‘political correctness’, a much-maligned (and often justly so) and yet consistently misunderstood phenomenon.

For a more extreme example, imagine giving an obscenity-laced PowerPoint presentation at your next meeting. Once you stop laughing, consider the implications even if everything in the presentation was 100% accurate, (groundbreaking, even) you’d still be fired, wouldn’t you? Swearing is, of course, a lower-class way of communicating.

You need to find the correct words for the correct situation, but evidently, there has been a great deal of discussion as to what are the correct words.

If you want to know more, the poem ‘The Six O’Clock News’ (1976) by Scottish poet Tom Leonard is a good place to start. In the UK, we study it as part of GCSE English (or at least we did when this writer was at school), and the poem neatly highlights the social and class-based distinctions that typified (and still do to some extent) ‘normal’ speech and any important announcements..

So, in conclusion, communication skills are important because without them, nobody would be able to understand YOU.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

This ‘Smart’ Earplug Can Be Your Language Translator In Real Time

We have all watched star trek or 'Allo 'Allo! (bare with us) and wondered how we can understand all the different languages. Well it is all down to the tardis! It translates the persons speech from their mouth to your ear so you can understand in perfect English. But now you don't need to keep a Tardis about with you, as they have designed a earpiece that can translate different languages, just pop it into your ear and talk to some foreigners. You can find the original article here.

How many times did you give up on befriending a foreign national due to language problem? Even if you have befriended the person who doesn't speak your language, it becomes difficult to converse with him or her. You always feel  the need to have a translator, whether it is a face-to-face conversation or a telephonic interaction.

Technology has the solution for any or every kind of problem in this world. It is advancing day-by-day so language barrier can no longer make you behave like an alien. Communicating with a foreign national in real time is no longer a pain as a company has come up with the Pilot earphones that let two people who speak different languages communicate smoothly with each other.

So there won't be any awkward pause the next time you speak with your friend who doesn't know your language. Also, there is no need to consult either a dictionary or search online the next time you want to talk to your French or Spanish friend.

In fact, Wavery Labs, a New York-based company that launched the wireless earphones, will add more languages as soon as possible. Currently the earphone translates only three languages - English, French and Spanish. The company will soon add Italian to its list.

You must be wondering about its functions. It works when you connect the earphones to two different people, speaking different languages and translates what they say in the ear.

Waverly Labs calls it the first 'smart earpiece'. But it hasn't disclosed much detail about how it works. According to the company, the earphone uses "translation technology" embedded in an app. The Pilot will cost $129 (around Rs. 8,646) and will be available for pre-order on their website.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

2 Way Radio Hire : The way forward for Business Communication

Imagine this, you're in charge of the 30 volunteers working your son's annual cross-country club event. With one week to go, you're wondering how you'll be able to communicate with them all, spread out across a 150-acre course - not to mention trying to pay for expensive communication devices on a limited budget.

OR…A security firm has just landed a lucrative contract at several convention centers spread across the United States, but needs a way to share important information with any or all of its officers at a moment's notice.

The answer to all of these scenarios? Hiring a two way radio .

One of the biggest financial drains on any company is its investment in equipment that depreciates or becomes obsolete within the space of 3-5 years, regardless of the amount of money thrown at said assets.

With regard to communication equipment, some items- such as phones, computers and paging systems- must be purchased for use on a permanent basis. But unless Purchasing can reinvent the wheel, these purchases still represent money down the drain.

In addition, how does a company address business-driven fluctuations in staff, and the resultant security, safety, and customer service issues? Purchasing communication equipment that will be used for one week, then set aside for months afterward- only to be misplaced, damaged or stolen before it can be used again- is an expensive way to run a business.

How much better to work with a 2 way radio hire company; one that will not only provide the best service and selection, but also tailor state-of-the-art equipment to your organization's specific needs.


There are few things more vital to an organization's well-being and security than effective and efficient communication. Schools, public safety agencies, hospitals, the agriculture industry, stores, construction sites, and airports are only a few of the many entities that rely on rapid communication for the very existence.

Given the unstable state of the economy, equipment rental has become the best of all possible solutions for companies with shrinking budgets. Aside from the fact that rental expenses are tax deductible, the two way radios themselves are designed for ease of use, and built to withstand the most rugged of conditions.

A 2 way radio Hire offers the best warranties and service, as well as: State-of-the-art equipment. Systematic hardware and software updates. Multiple frequency capability. Calibration of frequencies to match your existing equipment. Local and/or coast-to-coast capability, depending on your business needs. Temporary repeater installation in buildings where dead spots normally occur. Next-day shipping to remote work sites. Zero maintenance cost. Volume discounts.

Two way radio has come a long way since its first use by police departments in the early 1930's. In equal measure, the more recent transition from analog to digital signal represents a quantum leap forward in features, capability and efficiency.

2 way radio gives everyone involved a solution that offers value for money and an affordable way to the problem of anti-social behavior. In fact after paying for the handset there is no rental or call charges. With robust and reliable 2 way radios being it has never been easier for business owners to stay in touch and make their premises as safe and free of trouble as possible.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Farewell, Faithful Steed: Veteran Actor (and Sometime Fashion Icon) Patrick Macnee Dies, Aged 93

Patrick Macnee, the actor best known for his work on TVs The Avengers has passed away. He was 93 years old.

Macnee was born in London, England in 1922. His father trained racehorses and was noted for his keen fashion sense, whilst his mother was a niece of the Earl of Huntingdon (which may even have made Patrick a descendent of Robin Hood!). However, such privileged beginnings proved to be only deceptively comfortable for the young Macnee, who saw his father drink and gamble away the family fortune, before leaving the country for India, while Macnee lived with his mother and her Lesbian lover Uncle Evelyn Spottswood. The pair attempted to dress the young boy up as a girl, but settled for a kilt instead, which was how Macnee was dressed every day until he was eleven years old.

Spottswood paid for Macnees schooling, which included boarding school from the age of five, a preparatory school (where he acted alongside a young Christopher Lee in a production of Shakespeares Henry V) and ultimately a spell at Eton, where he joined the schools dramatic society. Eventually however, Macnee was quietly expelled from the school after he instigated a gambling ring and was then caught selling erotic photography and whiskey to his fellow pupils.

By this time though, he had already been bitten by the acting bug and so decided to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Before he could make his West End debut, the young actor was called up for National Service. It was 1942 and World War 2 was in full swing. He began his military career in the Navy as an ordinary seaman, before progressing to sub-lieutenant. Fortunately, a nasty bout of bronchitis caused Macnee to miss the D-Day landings, where the ship he was serving aboard was destroyed and the entire crew killed. He was ashamed of not being present at the battle for the rest of his life. Macnee was demobilized in 1946 with the final rank of lieutenant.

Patrick Macnee learned his craft via a number of small roles, appearing in The Life and Death of colonel Blimp in 1943 and portraying a Spear Carrier in Lawrence Oliviers 1948 production of Hamlet (alongside an uncredited Christopher Lee), amongst other assorted roles. However, as the years passed and his big break failed to arrive, Macnee became depressed and frustrated by his lack of progress.

Eventually, he decided to leave the United Kingdom for Canada, making the difficult decision to leave his wife and two children behind in the process. He arrived in Toronto with just £10 in his pocket. In Canada, Macnees eccentric Englishness made him a genuine novelty and his career began to pick up somewhat. He explored producing and, as an actor, appeared in over 30 televised plays, before finally hearing about a new television series in development called The Avengers.

In The Avengers, Macnee played the unflappable British secret agent John Steed from 1961 to 1969, before reprising the role for 1976 - 77s The New Avengers. Both the series and the character would become an iconic part of British popular culture, creating a legacy that endures to this day. The show made Macnee an international star and proved to be his finest hour as an actor.

The character of John Steed first appeared in The Avengers pilot episode Hot Snow (1961). Here, he was depicted as being an assistant to Dr. David Keel. When Ian Hendry, who had played Dr. Keel, quit the show later that year, Steed became the central character and was partnered with a series of crime fighting accomplices, namely Dr. Martin King (Jon Rollason), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) and finally Cathy Gale (played by future Bond girl Honor Blackman).

As the series progressed, Macnee extensively re-designed Steeds wardrobe, furnishing his character with the now iconic look of bowler hat, Saville Row suit and gentlemans umbrella. Of course, these garments came to be tricked out with various spy gadgets as the series went on.

It was Steeds debonair, quintessentially British wardrobe that helped the show to become so successful both at home and overseas. In fact, the clothes were so iconic that in France The Avengers is known as Chapeau Melon et Bottes de Cuir â€" Bowler Hat and Leather Boots.

Macnee also decided early on that Steed should never carry a gun. In later interviews he stated that he was sick of firearms after experiencing “a war in which Id seen most of my friends blown to pieces”.

Besides, a pimped-out brolly is waaaaay cooler.

In 1965, Steed was paired with his most iconic partner (and best, but Im biased since she was my childhood crush) Mrs. Emma Peel. Portrayed by Diana Rigg, Mrs. Peel (designed to have man appeal â€" hence the name) was smart, self-assured and supremely confident. In a unique twist, Peel often acted as Steeds muscle, being by far the more physical of the two characters. Although he frequently rescued her from harm, their relationship was truly a partnership of equals, making Mrs. Peel, secret agent, martial artist and chemistry genius, a genuine pioneer among female heroines. Macnee was always proud of the strong, positive female characters that were so prominently featured in The Avengers.

Rigg left the series in 1968 and promptly followed her predecessor into the James Bond franchise, while Macnee was partnered with Linda Thorsons Tara King until the series demise a year later in 1969.

ITV revived the Avengers concept in 1976 and Macnee starred alongside Joanna Lumley (Purdy) and Gareth Hunt (Gambit). The show ran for two series, but, despite a positive reception, was scrapped in 1977 due to financial problems.

Away from The Avengers, Macnee appeared in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) and the classic Rock n Roll mocumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984), where he portrayed Sir Dennis Eton-Hogg, the somewhat sanctimonious president of Taps record company. He also played Dr. George Waggner in 1981s cult favourite The Howling.

In 1998, Hollywood made a disastrous attempt to revive The Avengers. The movie starred Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery and Patrick leant his support in the form of a voice cameo. However, without the twinkle, wit and class of the original John Steed, the idea was doomed to failure.

Finding himself in the enviable position of being a pop culture icon, Macnee was asked to appear in music videos for The Pretenders and Oasis amongst others. He also contributed vocals to a novelty single Kinky Boots with Honor Blackman that was issued three times, the first in 1964, the second in 1983 and the third in 1990, where it eventually became a top 3 hit.

As a television actor, Macnee appeared in such memorable shows as The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Colombo, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, Magnum P.I, Diagnosis Murder, The Littlest Hobo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and many others. He even played Dr. Watson alongside Christopher Lees Sherlock Holmes.

In later life, Macnee became a nudist. After an infancy spent in a dress, a childhood in a kilt and an adulthood in the finest suits money can buy, why not spend an old age in the nip? For a style icon that brought the suave and stylish John Steed to life with effortless grace, charm and virility, one supposes that it must have felt like the next logical step.

R.I.P Patrick, you will be sorely missed.