Car Conversations

Conversations in the car could range from interesting to awkward. Awkward when you are driving a guy to a place even though you are not familiar with him to carry a conversation between good friends. Or it could be the other round when you are accepting a ride from another person, and then you wonder, “Is it courtesy to talk to him or should I just let the radio fill the void?”. However, I feel that conversations in the car could become an effective tool to understand someone better, provided that the traffic does not consume much of your attention. I am not advocating paying less attention to the roads, but as a comparison, it would be easier to carry out a conversation in smooth traffic rather than in a jam where many cars are trying to cut into your lane.

I have had the chance to ferry one of my fellow Liaison Officers back home since we both stay around the same area; just a 5 minutes drive away if the lights work in my favour. In the entire 40 minute journey, I can choose to keep quiet or to engage him. I chose to engage him in a conversation that I am interested in.

As a Senior Military Expert in the SAF, we have to look at how policies made by our commanders affect the people on the ground. Sometimes the impetus is honourable, but the method of carrying out hinders the real purpose of any policy. At other times, people have different perspectives and hence this leads to a different interpretation of the effectiveness of the policy.

The essence of the new MDES scheme allows the opportunity for a technician to climb his way up the ranks. Previously, a specialist can only be promoted to a warrant officer and there is no chance to becoming an officer equivalent. By streamlining the rank structure, it allows for people to become officer-equivalents and take on officer roles in the SAF.

To me this is very interesting and I want to see how people on the ground will react to such opportunities. Hence I spoke to him about his thoughts on the MDES scheme and I asked him about his ambition. The 40 minute journey home allowed me to see the policy from his perspective and that was very useful to me.

A conversation in the car could allow me to (1) see something from other people’s point of view, and (2) correct them if necessary. Sometimes people have an opinion because they lack the strategic depth. They see things from a micro point of view (how it affects ME), but not a macro point of view (how the policy affects the organisation) as a whole. Through conversations, we can try to shape his opinion to see things from another point of view, and hopefully the organisation would have gained another motivated employee instead of one who grumbles about the situation at hand.

The point of the post is this: We can fill up these times of void with productive things. We can talk to people and learn more from them. We can listen to the radio and learn something new. Some people can think about problems and still drive safely (something which I do not advocate). No matter what, if we are able to harness such times of void and use them to our advantage, we would be able to do more things with the time we have. Eventually, we will have more time for other important events in our lives.

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