Sounds Benign But A Powerful Tool – NITIE

A memorable classroom experience in my B-school 

Finally, the wait was over and on 11th June 2018 my journey at NITIE, Mumbai started. The level of pressure and surviving the day through assignments, quizzes, case studies was surreal. Powerpoint presentations were already anticipated but that didn’t start till the second week; when the induction got over and the classes started officially. Just like everyone else, I was also sceptical about how would I be able to get back to pen and paper academics after being away from it for 2 years.

I really enjoyed my engineering studies and was satisfied with my stint at Deloitte working in Big Data and solving real-life problems with my magical hand by writing down the “chants” called CODE. I was happy with my life and excited to solve new problem everyday, but I always wanted to learn more. The biggest issue I was facing at work was that I was not able to anticipate the situations which my client may be facing in near future and how could I handle that beforehand. I was tired of learning just from my mistakes. I wanted to understand the environments where our businesses were working in and anticipate the issues and problems they may be facing in near or far future, and the best way I found was to study the exact same thing formally at a B-school, and hence NITIE happened.

It was the second day since the classes had started formally and the subject was “Business Communication”. I had taken a few lectures on communication at my undergrad and this sounded the same. But what happened in the next 1.5 hours was probably a new experience; not just for me but for everyone else in my class. The professor came and asked us to go to a different lecture hall. We were supposed to open our footwear outside and I was not able to comprehend if we’re going to “communicate” mystically to god and maybe that’s why the shoes are being considered unholy inside the class. We went inside, and I could not spot a single table or a chair but an open step-down classroom, floored with carpet. I was in splits when someone cracked a joke that maybe we’re supposed to sit on the floor and try to enact the classes in rural India where villagers still sit on the floor and study. We actually ended up sitting on the floor, the only difference between us and villagers was that it was carpeted, and the hall was air-conditioned.

The professor came and started off with a line which made me think and changed my perception. He said that this classroom is not to mug bookish concepts of communication, rather improve your communication skills. There won’t be any defined syllabus and we, the students, can ask for what we want to learn as a part to improve our communication skills. A poll was taken, and we were able to shortlist about 20 points which we would want to add/improve in our existing communication skills, ranging from ‘Business Negotiations’ to ‘Effective communication in high-pressure situations’ and even listed ‘effectively writing formal communications such as emails and articles’. I have never seen a class like this before, where a teacher asks for student’s input on what would we like to learn.

In the very next class, he taught some theory about transactional analysis, ego states and PAC model of communication. By the time he finished the theory, we were already half asleep due to sleep deprivation caused by the pressure of completing the assignments before the deadline. But what came next was unexpected and unprecedented. He started telling us a story. We listened to it carefully as it was interesting, and it also ended with open strings just like Christopher Nolan’s movies. The story was followed by a task, task to find the most offensive character in the story, post which we’ll gather in respective character groups claiming that their character was the most offensive through a pitch to the whole class and trying to persuade others from their own perspective of the story and changing their prejudices of the abrupt and open ending.

This task resulted in meticulously preparing for our pitches for the class, trying to answer the questions raised by other teams and trying to convince them and win the task. The best part of the whole task was that we were so ingrained in the task, trying to convince our points and sway others that we forgot that this is the exact skill needed in a business surrounding as well. We were learning things which we were supposed to do in the backdrop of a small task that soon became an obsession and the professor had to stop us before it turned into a ‘Fish Market’.

The professor started telling us that this is exactly what happens in the corporate world and we need to strive hard to master this skill. He connected each conversation, pointing out specific people’s gestures and body language and started connecting them to the theory he taught and proving how each line of the theory came true in our conversations. He managed to teach us the negotiation skills, public speaking skills and politics all at once through one task without even mentioning the agenda of the class, all while connecting it with textbook theoretical concepts.

It struck me how benign business communication sounds and how powerful tool it is and I was left contemplating, about how things would have turned out if we were to learn it from the theory point of view instead of a practical and real-life application.

I felt relieved as I knew I came to the right place and I rejoiced about my decision of choosing NITIE over everything else. I was happy as I was learning new things, not just every day but every hour at my B-school.

 

My Dream Company –

I would like to work for Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd. as being in an apparel business means continuously working with the latest trends, working with the supply chain in which we are good at. Also, the continuously changing scenario of fashion would keep me on toes and will keep challenging me to think from a new perspective, thus saving me from the boredom of monotonous jobs. Also, due to my interest in marketing, I would be able to work on the marketing aspect of one of the best luxury brands in India all while having an option to live near my family and solving real life problems while being proud to work in one of the oldest conglomerates of India.

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