Let's Master American Soft Skills. Raj Boone's Gadasalli
American Soft Skills
Raj Gadasalli. BSEE. MBA. PhD
Let’s Master American Soft Skills
Copyright 2004-2012 © Raj Gadasalli
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, or any information retrieval system without prior permission of the author, in writing.
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About this book
This book is about Communication and Social skills and about a set of 4 skills that I call “Executive Survival Skills.” To be successful in business one needs not only to be a good communicator but also a master of survival skills. These are Superior Customer service, Win-win Negotiation skills, Time Management skills and Stress Management skills. This skill set is boundary less. Whether you are American, Chinese, Indian, Japanese or Malay or from Timbuktu you need these skills. If you sell airplanes, ice cream, shoes, software or television sets you would benefit from these skills. Some of the personal names referred are Indian specific.
Some of the social and interpersonal skills talked about are required for a person to be recognized as “cultured” not only in business but also in daily life. The ability to communicate effectively is what distinguishes successful executives from the also ran. As an executive climbs higher up the ladder he/she will have to face not only the internal audience like his direct reports and down the line but also trade unions, external audience such as trade associations, government agencies, NGOs, company stock holders and stake holders. For some, public speaking is almost a necessity. Even if a ghost- writer is involved the executive has to learn how to deliver the message.
Communication takes several forms, verbal, written, body language, gestures and a judicious combination of the above. At the core of verbal communication is a well-cultivated voice, body language and a rich vocabulary. Most TV viewers would have observed the stark contrast between Bill Clinton considered as one among the best US communicators - Ronald Reagan was considered the best - and other political leaders in this regard. Furthermore, general knowledge of what is happening in the business world outside one’s own field of activity, the political world and other arenas add to executive repertoire.
Focus of this book is on communication and interpersonal skills in the American context. Language and culture are intertwined. Each language is unique in many ways. An appreciation of the cultural environment in which a language is rooted will go a long way in appreciating the nuances of that particular language. An attempt is made here to cover as much ground as possible – obviously not in depth – to enable non-American learners to get a feel for American English communication, which is fast becoming the global norm.
I have nearly four decades of marketing experience almost evenly split between India and the US, which includes 14 years with the General Electric Company in the Jack Welch era. Believe me; I really know the meaning of stress in business life and the importance of learning to cope with it. So I have gone a little overboard in covering this subject under survival skills, towards the end of this book.
Those who may be familiar with my earlier book Let’s Speak American English may consider this book as an extension. I would rather call this a sequel. This book covers new material also. I hope that this book too will be well received by business executives and discerning public, especially those who are called upon to interact in cross – cultural environments.
This book is written in simple language and in simple style to make it understandable by a wider readership with a working knowledge of the English language whether it is British or other variations.
Some ideas are repeated in various chapters. This is done deliberately to reinforce key concepts.
This writing is primarily written for non-us born
Students, US immigrants and those in the Global Village who are interested in developing Soft Skills.
Corporate HR departments outside the US may find this work useful for their new hires whose mother tongue is not English; in light of the fact that people - skills may not find a place in most school and college curriculum.
November 25, 2004
Revised and updated
The nine chapters in this book, in essence cover four themes.
First is general information about the United States of America as relevant to this writing.
Next in order are Language, Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Here we cover American English with all it’s manifestations. Why? Because the American form of English is the happening language. If you compare contemporary writing in local newspapers and magazines and the words and expressions of most non US TV anchors and reporters to what was ten years ago, you will appreciate what I am saying. After I wrote my first book Let’s Speak American English, I took it to an editor of a respected Bangalore newspaper and requested a book review. The gentleman said that he would forward the book to Chennai where such decisions were made. He was very polite but firm in his conviction that British English was good enough for former colonial countries and wondered why an Indian like me was promoting American English! I had to politely remind him that the British left India and several other colonies over 50 years ago and the world was not the same today. Furthermore, the spoken word and the written word are the basis for communication unless everyone wants to communicate in sign language or silent language. Hence the language that is poised to dominate the global village should be given its due. From the global perspective, India has advantage over China due to historic reasons but the Chinese are catching up by emphasizing American English.
Man is indeed a social animal. But what distinguishes him from the animal within him are social skills – Social skills such as caring and courtesy to fellow human beings, civic sense, manners and etiquette and so forth. These skills are covered.
The next section talks about Business and Career Skills. The importance of this topic hardly needs introduction or emphasis.
As this book is specially addressed to Business Executives who should be familiar not only with business terminology but also legal terminology to understand the meanings of words used in the American context.
The final part is called Executive Survival skills.
With the rapid pace of globalization the whole world will soon be an integrated market place with waning influence of local cultures. At the end I foresee only 2 or 3 major cultural influences dominating the business world, American being one of them and Islamic being the second and the third one, yet to emerge. Peoples of the world irrespective of their race, religion or color have the same hopes and aspirations for a better standard of living for themselves and more so for their progeny. Consumerism will continue to be a dominant force in the foreseeable future. This would create increased competition between local and global interests and only the fittest would survive. This applies not only to corporate entities but also to business persons.
In this environment of heightened expectations Superior Customer Service and Win- Win negotiation skills assume paramount importance. Time pressures would mount. Stress would naturally follow. Only those executives who are equipped to cope with