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I Took These Steps To Improve My Communication Skills And My Life Changed

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When I started my corporate career in 2013, I knew very little about the significance of presenting myself and talking to people and for me, communication skills or personality development were just part of the syllabus to be completed and marks to be scored in, rather than learning. My lecturer making me write long essays in class, on topics I used to never bother about, was an icing on the cake And trust me the entire time that I used to write, I struggled too much and I used to feel pity about my situation wondering if all this is required when I post on social media, as hashtags are enough right?

Today, while I am writing this and all that I have published earlier too, I have been enjoying the whole process of selecting the topic to write on, thinking how to structure, preparing a draft before finalizing and last but not least, counting on all the love, likes and comments I still have been receiving on my recent or old articles. Nothing motivates me more than knowing that people are reading my content and appreciating it as well!

In one day
In a day by the way.

And when I look back a few months ago, I remember what steps I took to improve my communication and hence my writing skills because trust me, I had no plan at all to write then, So, what did I do? Let’s check out.

  • Binge-Watch

I only did what most of us normally do, binge-watch, our favourite series during weekends and I didn’t miss it a day during the lockdown. And it was also at this time, that I used to miss staying alone, without my mom noticing what I am busy doing and hence not replying to her on WhatsApp. Well, thanks to Harvey Specter and Jessica Pearson for coming into my lives. For those of you who don’t know, they are my favourite characters from the very famous show ‘Suits’.

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So, how did this help me? I used to love the way they spoke and I used to rewind an episode in the middle, for at least 3 or 4 times and then pause and practice speaking exactly like them to come up with that British accent, which I am still trying to learn. But in that process, I learned a lot about how incorrect I was sometimes in pronouncing many words that I was so familiar with and had been using in my communication very often.

I also got acquainted with a lot of unfamiliar words and so I would make a point to google them and try and understand the context in which those words were used.

I enjoyed doing all of these because of two things – one, of course, was that I liked the series and the other was, I wanted to learn to speak like them so that I’d be able to communicate well and this was better than struggling to read words from big fat dictionaries and forget them the next day as we did not learn to apply them anywhere due to the lack of English-speaking environment around us.

  • Using A Mirror Or Camera

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I had an English teacher in school who used to help students who took part in elocution or story-telling competitions and I still remember her giving a tip to prepare right before going on stage. So, the tip was to use the mirror or camera and speak something, like having a normal conversation with someone you have been wanting to speak to in your workplace so that the next time you meet them, you may be able to avoid that awkward silence.

While you are rehearsing, notice what expressions you are using, how confident you are while speaking, how much eye contact are you able to make with yourself, and then with others when actually speaking, typical Hindi-movie-proposal or first-date types, but very effective. I would suggest to video record your speech and keep listening to it on a repeat mode and judge where you need improvement.

  • Podcasts

A lot of these music apps like Spotify have the option of podcasts and I started following a lot of these in English. One of them is BeerBiceps, the other is from Pat Flynn and likewise a few other episodes and shows too.

Though a lot of them put me to nice sleep at times, a few of them also helped me learn the need for voice modulation, enthusiasm invoice along with the most important part, which is missed by a lot of us and that is to know where to take a pause and then continue again.

Representational image.
  • Books Are Now My Cup Of Tea

Reading books is a habit of the successful. While I wanted to experience the effect too badly, I never wanted to start with reading at all, I mean, if you are reading something you need focus and why should I focus on what Mark Manson thinks about living a good life in his first and very famous book, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’.

So, for a start, I borrowed this book, ‘The Power of Your Sub-Conscious Mind’, because I wanted to start with some positivity and hoped to continue that.

And let me tell you if that if you have never read, the book is damn simple to understand, which now makes me thank Joseph Murphy- first for writing this book and second, for explaining the sub-conscious concept so nicely. It was after I half-finished the book that I bought another book By Mark Manson and another one, ‘Alibaba – The House that Jack Ma Built’, by Duncan Clark.

So, here’s where I am today, connecting with people through my communication and writing.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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