On Saturday October 27th 2018, MOHAN Foundation organised a one-day masterclass in Soft Skills and Communication for healthcare professionals, especially in the field of organ donation and transplantation, in Chennai. This was the first of a series of masterclasses supported by SBI Foundation and SBI DFHI Limited.
This masterclass was aimed at improving practical skills such as soft skills and communication, self-expectations, communication guidelines, presentation pointers, body language, team building, conflict resolving, accountability, and stress management. Each topic was addressed as a presentation, team building activity, interactive session or video. The masterclass was taken by trainer Lata Gopati from Edify Consultants and was insightful, well organized, and highly informative. There were 25 participants comprising transplant coordinators, volunteers, and other healthcare professionals.
The opening speech given by Ms. Gopati was based on how the masterclass is a safe space, non judgmental and a place to learn new skill sets to help us both at the workplace and through our daily lives and careers. Our first activity was getting to know one another through a round table group activity that spoke about personality versus the deeper beliefs, ethics and morals a person has. We used the reference of “the tip of the iceberg” - the tip being what we want people to perceive us or more commonly our personality, while the part below the water being the people we truly are. This activity required us to list the qualities of having a trust of character, a trust of communication and a trust of capability. In our groups we came up with different concepts and defined what we believed to be the definition of morals, values and ethics in our own words and then collectively discussed them with Ms. Gopati as a whole.
Part of working is learning the etiquette of email writing. In today’s world between WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter we forget the formalities of writing a dignified and proper work environment based email. Through the entire workshop this was one of the most focused upon topics due to the sensitivity, respect and professionalism an email must convey. The do’s and don’ts were spoken about along with proper wording and empathy. This skill helped a lot of the younger participants learn how to properly communicate via email in the most respectful and thoughtful way.
Next we moved to presentation skills. As part of a non-governmental organisation being able to speak among crowds and raise awareness for the organisation is key. For this activity we watched a short TEDx talk given by a Dabbawala (food delivery man). This video showcased how a good presentation should be given. While his presentation was short it was entertaining, to the point, informational and highlighted important facts and statistics on what most people would assume is a menial job. After this video we all worked on presentation skills by showcasing different foundations, we all chose different methods of presentations some to the point, some exciting and lively and others informational. The key point was to incorporate all of this into one presentation which was taught by Ms. Gopati.
After a wonderful and social lunch we continued on with our day with some team building activities to get us up and active. In our first game the objective was for 12 members to all hold hands with a hoop intertwined; the goal was for each member to get through the hoop without breaking hands. We were challenged as two teams of 12 to see who could get the hoop around the fastest. This was a lively, competitive and fun way of team building. We played the best of three rounds and after each round we were able to change our methods and correct our errors to increase our speeds. We encouraged and cheered each other on while helping to move faster. While this seems like a simple exercise with each round we were able to focus on our errors and strengths and work on correcting them in order for the best possible outcome. Each team member contributed different ideas and methods and as a group we were able to learn to communicate as an effective team. Our next physical team exercise was the most challenging thing we had done all day it required not only analytical thinking but conflict resolution when we didn’t agree on a certain method and the role of one to take more of a leadership position. This game was based on thinking of how to plan one step ahead and also consider the choices you had already made. Our end objective was to make sure every team member understood how the game was mastered and that we all individually were able to also complete the task.
After our high energy games and tea break we sat down for a talk about effective communication and how to best implement it. In any relationship let it be work, family or marriage communication is the key to success. This talk also played into the role of our own roles in a group project or organisation and how to individually help the success of the team. Do we communicate our personal thoughts with clarity? Do we speak to our team members with respect? Do we acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses as a team? All of these were spoken about and helped to guide us on how to work best as a team as well as individually contribute one’s personal best.
Our workshop ended with an important factor in not only work, career wise but in life; stress management. What to do when it all becomes too much or too overwhelming. In life our goal is to do our best and commit to our goals and expectations 100%. Personal and mental strength plays a strong role in this. Ms. Gopati taught us breathing exercises, personal ways of de-stressing and always reaching out for help when it is needed.
In conclusion this masterclass was a huge success and the participants took home new knowledge with them. We enhanced our practical skills to manage and engage more effectively in our organisation and places of work. Every participant there left with a certificate of completion and achievement along with a sense of new ideas and how to achieve them.