How to master the art of effective conversation

Living Conversations, a unique life skill course offered by School for Life, UPES, empowers and enables learners to ideate, express, create, and collaborate in any given situation – professional or personal

The great reset that the world witnessed in 2020 emphasised the need to develop soft skills in the current and future workforce. The ability to communicate — a fundamental aspect of human beings – was among the most in-demand skills that companies prioritised for hiring.

In this context, the UPES School for Life started ‘Living Conversations’, a unique life skill course that empowers and enables learners to ideate, express, create, and collaborate in any given situation – professional or personal.

The course helps learners to understand the importance of being empathetic and the role of clarity in communication; identify appropriate strategies to improve one’s ability to express; listen and understand people in a given situation and context. They will be able to use speaking, writing, and listening skills to nurture meaningful relationships. The course also focuses on inculcating a better understanding of cross-cultural exchanges.

Reiterating the need for effective conversation skills, Professor Gaurav Misra, Course Leader, Living Conversations, says, “Rapidly changing career landscapes, fiercely competitive workplaces, and dynamic digital trends have further amplified the relevance of conversational abilities. According to the World Economic Forum, life skills are set to see a significant increase in demand.”

“With my own experience as a GLIK (Global Leaders for Innovation and Knowledge) fellow and a Fulbright scholar, I have realized that one must cultivate the ability to participate and converse in a variety of cultural contexts to perform in today’s dynamic world. While conceptualizing the course, we have tried to ensure experiential learning using engaged teaching methodology. The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) approach followed here helps the learners to have a fair understanding of their performance and progress. The mentor and mentee can strategize accordingly to achieve the desired learning outcomes,” he adds.

Components such as Mini Film Festival (MFF), Joke of the Day, Guest Talks are the highlights of this course. ‘Joke of the Day’, a fun activity where students share memes about daily life and learn to use humour as a tool of expression, is quite popular in the fraternity.

“Conversation is an art everyone should strive to master to lead a successful life,” says, Ritam Dutta, Assistant Professor, UPES, School for Life. He further adds that if there is anything he has learned while teaching different languages and literature in various countries since the last 12 years is that communication is a serious business. “A meaningful conversation is not just about speaking well, but also about conscious listening. Active listening means listening to understand and not just to reply. Modules like listening for enhanced understanding and how to improve listening skills, make the course a wholesome package for the students,” Ritam says.

Talking about the relevance of this course for the new-age learners, Dr. Shreya Upadhyay, Fulbright Nehru Scholar, Assistant Professor, School for Life, UPES, shares, “Communication is power. Once you master it, you can set the stage and conditions for managing people. Living Conversations has been planned meticulously, and the unique style of delivery of the course makes it so much fun and relevant in modern times. Students are encouraged to be creative, participate in discussions, and ask questions, which helps in developing strong analytical and critical thinking skills.”  

On how this course would enhance the employability of students, Pooja Khanna, a Communication and Career Coach, School for Life, UPES, explains that all big companies today are looking for candidates having exceptional communication skills. “Preparing for an interview is a process, for which a student should start working on his/her personality from the very first day of college. Living Conversations nurtures students to express their opinions and work for a purpose. This, in the long run, aids in fostering stronger relationships and manage people efficiently, making them a perfect choice for the recruiters.”

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