Thursday, May 23, 2013

To Allow or Disallow Blog Commenting? Why Bloggers Should Turn Commenting On or Off

From the time I started blogging in WordPress, I have received so many spam comments. Still, I allow posting of comments from readers because I believe that comments form part of a post’s content. Whenever I visit posts or blogs, I always read comments to know more about the topic and learn how other people think about the article I’m viewing. Some people may not share entirely the same confidence in comments. Here are reasons why bloggers should turn comments on and off.

Why Bloggers Should Turn Comments On

You won’t know if you are sharing the right information that is appreciated by your readers until you allow them to comment. Commenting gives way to share thoughts and reflection and engaging with readers strengthens your relationship with them. Only when you form this connection that you communicate to the online world and feel not like you’re “talking only to a blackboard” and nobody in your class listens.

Given that you do not know all these visitors personally, you can still possibly know about their ideas and add on to these ideas to form another set of topics for your blog. Opening up comments means that you are open for both negative and positive reviews on your piece, and this is powerful in improving how you perceive things as well.

Another reason why bloggers should allow comments is resonance over reputation. Sure, one might receive too many bad feedbacks but this only means that the entire online population is that much concerned and affected by the post. This can then be treated as a two-edged sword. What’s critical is for the blogger to know how to manage his or her reputation by posting clarifications and sharing good intentions while retaining authenticity and self-care for touchstones.

Why Bloggers Should Turn Comments Off

To present the argument of other bloggers, accepting and allowing comments for them are only a waste of time, since they do not value the responses and judgments of their audience. What’s important is to declare they say about certain things and readers need not contribute to the conversation. This is mostly seen in websites of businesses which show information related to their products and services.

Business owners are afraid that they put energy in checking and reviewing all comments, while others find that hiring additional headcount such as the social media manager who’s responsible to control the comments and interact with readers don’t fit their budget and is just unnecessary.

So time management is one of the biggest problems and hindrances in comment publishing. The more comments come in, the more time is needed to evaluate whether to publish them or to trash them. This means that more time is required in the life of a blogger and less time to spend doing other more important things that impact others’ lives.

In addition, comments sometimes can be too surprisingly reactive and damaging on the part of other readers. These are those that don’t serve good for anyone but used only as a means to vent out anger and frustration. In this case, turning comments off is a good idea to reduce the negativity level in your site. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be more stressed after reading nasty comments that ruin your mood and suck up all the positive vibes in the room.

While readers may not post comments in your post, they can still impart their thoughts by sending you an email directly, mentioning you or sending a direct message on Twitter, and using other forms of social media to connect deeply. Receiving them through other arenas will confirm that you have dear readers who truly want to get the message sent across to you and not only to spam you with irrelevant and bad responses.

My Take

Comments on my blog are allowed but they are moderated to filter those containing spam links and irrelevant content. I have installed the Akismet plugin which automatically detects spam for me and puts them under review for approval. While the use of this plugin is not written in the Blog Code of Conduct, I feel that it’s somehow obligatory on the part of the blogger also to avoid penalties by major search engines like Google.

Your Take

As a blogger, what say you on this one? Do you turn your comments on or off? How is or isn’t that right for you?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Where Did the Term “Martial Arts” Originate?

I have been reading a lot of articles about martial arts and found that there’s no one that explains the reasons why “martial arts” is called “martial arts” at great length. This post aims to fill that and make everyone in the society understand where the term “martial arts” originated in the first place.

Literal Meaning from the Dictionary

By definition, “martial" means “war or fighting,” “military,” or “warfare.” The ultimate etymology of the word comes from the Roman god of war, Mars. On the other hand, "art" refers to"skill" or "craft."  So when you put “martial” and “arts” together, they refer to “the art of warfare.”

Literal Meaning Suggested by the West

Wikipedia has it that “martial arts” represent Western swordsmanship as far back as the 1550s. Many countries and regions have fighting styles that are unique and effective, but martial arts remain to be seen to have oriental nature.

Literal Meaning Suggested by the East

Another claim was made by Etymonline which said that "martial arts" first appeared as a translation of "bujutsu"  in 1933. This word means "military science"  in Japanese and is comparable to the more philosophically-toned term, "budo," which means "the way of war." With the mix of Chinese and Japanese languages, we can get the context – “wu” in “wushu” and “bu” in “bujutsu” equate to “martial” and “shu” in “wushu” and “jutsu” in “bujutsu” both mean “arts” or “skills.”

East Meets West

When the West came in contact with the Asian traditions, 'martial arts' was a natural blanket term to refer to all the fighting arts, Eastern and Western, but in the last hundred years or so, the traditional Western fighting arts (boxing, fencing, horseback riding, wrestling, marching) have evolved into sports, or died out which is why the term is used more often to refer to the Asian traditions.

Modern Meaning?

In addition to what has been said here, remember that many terms are often in use long before they are ever written in historical documents or records, so it can be very difficult to be sure of who first used it, or what it meant.  Also, word meanings often change over time, or are misused so often, the incorrect usage becomes the common understanding.  

Bonus Question: 
Can Martial Arts Be Used for Self-defense?

A lot of people are asking me whether wushu, the martial arts I perform, can be used for battle or real war. My answer has been consistent: mostly no but it can be. Particularly in the Philippines where there are many robbers and bad-spirited people on the streets, many are influenced to be part of gangs and cause threats to others. They fight and harass citizens with knives and some even with guns. 

In this case, even if one is equipped with skills in martial arts, the best way is to scream and run far away. Street fighting is not really done by majority of martial artists but only those recognized masters who can use their properly trained bodies to respond to urgent situations like this in the public.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Overcome Resistance as a Result of Change

In the business arena, whether or not change is planned or forced upon an organization, companies and staff must adapt to changes smoothly to remain viable, as there will always be resistance. Managing employee resistance to change is the very important part of the management practices and organizational behavior.

In a nutshell, organizational change can generate skepticism and resistance in employees, making it sometimes even impossible to implement. In this post, we will talk about how to overcome resistance as a result of change.

Change approaches to deal with resistance to change:

1. Educate and communicate.

When information is not properly handed over and there is deficiency in the interpretation on the changes, employees will be hesitant to follow as they don’t have enough awareness on what to do next or how to react. There would be lack of enthusiasm therefore bringing about resistance. Hence, there must be up-front communication and education to guide them in appreciating the logic in the change effort. Additionally, this will reduce unfounded rumors on the effects of change in the organization.

2. Encourage and make staff be involved and enable them to participate in making the change.

When staffs share their ideas for example in the new technology device the company is buying to eliminate much manual labor and improve operational efficiency, they won’t be worried that their jobs would be replaced and be deemed useless. Rather, their self-esteem may be heightened since they can feel proud that they are partly contributors to the good impact the new innovation will bring to the organization.

3. Support and facilitate staff in their work toward the change.

Naturally, people will exhibit some resistance at first but it’s the manager’s responsibility to help workers deal with fear and anxiety during the transition period. The basis of resistance to change is likely to be the perception that there some form of detrimental effect occasioned by the change in the organization. This approach is concerned with provision of special training and counseling.

4. Negotiate and agree.

The idea is that managers can combat resistance by offering incentives to employees not to resist change. Line managers are prime agents in helping employees to lower their defenses. They should be able to address individual concerns employees might have about job security, wages and loss of control after the change.

5. Manipulate and co-opt employees who resist the change.

Co-option involves the patronizing gesture in bringing a person into a change management planning group for the sake of appearances rather than their substantive contribution. This often involves selecting leaders of the resisters to participate in the change effort. These leaders can be given a symbolic role in decision making without threatening the change effort. Still, if these leaders feel they are being tricked they are likely to push resistance even further than if they were never included in the change effort leadership.

Wrap Up

We have just learned five ways on how to overcome resistance as a result of change. To explicit and implicit coercion, whereby managers can explicitly or implicitly enforce employees to accept change by making clear that resisting change can lead to losing their jobs, firing them, transferring them to other organizations or not promoting them even if they deserve it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Does Organizational Culture Change – With Case Study and Clear Illustration

A company’s culture is an amalgam of shared history, explicit values and beliefs, and common attitudes and behaviors. In this article, we will know how an organization culture changes and more things about “culture,” “organization,” and “change” plus a case study on Enghouse Systems Ltd. to demonstrate how the company CEO turned the culture to another direction for the better.

3 Levels of Organizational Cultures

Organizational cultures exist on three levels.

First, on the surface level, are the reflections of an organization’s culture that can be seen, heard, or observed, such as symbolic artifacts (e.g., dress codes and office layouts, and workers’ and managers’ behaviors).  Change programs can involve creating a culture (in new companies or those built through multiple acquisitions), combining cultures (in mergers or acquisitions of large companies), or reinforcing cultures. Understanding that all companies have a cultural center is often an effective way to jump-start culture change.

Next, just below the surface, are the values and beliefs expressed by people in the company. You can’t see these, but by listening carefully to what people say and how decisions are made or explained, those values and beliefs become clear. 

Once the culture is understood, it should be addressed as thoroughly as any other area in a change program. Leaders should be explicit about the culture and underlying behaviors that will best support the new way of doing business, and find opportunities to model and reward those behaviors. This requires developing a baseline, defining an explicit end-state or desired culture, and devising detailed plans to make the transition.

Finally, unconsciously held assumptions and beliefs are buried deep below the surface. These are the unwritten views and rules that are so strongly held and so widely shared that they are rarely discussed or even thought about unless someone attempts to change them or unknowingly violates them. These beliefs are difficult to change, so most managers focus on the parts of the organizational culture they can control such as observable surface-level items: workers’ behaviors and symbolic artifacts, and expressed values and beliefs, which can be influenced through employee selection.

How to Change the Culture of an Organization: Case Study of Enghouse Systems Ltd.

To change the culture, improvised and new elements must fit together as a mutually reinforcing system and changing minds will need to be put in play. This should start from the top management then cascade to every member of the organization with the use of leadership and change management tools, such as role definitions, measurement and control systems.

For example, Claudette MacKay-Lassonde, Chairman, President and CEO of Enghouse Systems Ltd. (a small software and services company located in Markham, Ontario), wanted to transform the corporate culture as she observed that employees lacked productivity and they have been showing disinterest in their work.

The company thus experienced loss of profits. In spite of having a good product line and services in developing software for businesses, Enghouse Systems Ltd. suffered a $3.2 million loss and was threatened to hit bankruptcy in 1994. The CEO reinforced the company’s vision and mission, tightened financial controls, changed the office design and layout, changed dress codes, and added benefits and perks for employees. Three years later, Enghouse turn to a profit.

Specifically, she initially conducted surveys and interviews on staff members and found that their ability to propose and implement change in the company was low. The interviews suggested that marginal regard for input had caused the staff to become discouraged and had reduced motivation for process improvements.

Although Enghouse before the change in culture espoused teamwork as a core value, feedback from the management indicated a low level of trust among managers resulting to lack of collaboration among the leaders. The company was viewed as focused on the past and present while lacking a strategic plan for the future.

With this, she imparted the road map of the company to responsive stakeholders to have a strategic direction, continuously drive enablers of teams and drew of full capabilities of the talented staff, introduced radical transparency, communicated horizontally in conversations and stories.

She fueled executives in the organization to express not only verbal support but also lead the change by changing their own behaviors. In addition, members of the organization were taught what is expected of them, and they learned how to actually practice the new behaviors when they were defined.

Training has been very useful in both setting expectations and imparting new behaviors. Shifting a culture that has to some extent moved away from the values established by its founder is always a challenge. It requires time but it can be done if there’s commitment, right planning and proper execution.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Link Between Wushu and Lion Dance as Part of Chinese Traditions

In today’s world, we often see lion dances not only in mainland China but also in countries and societies where Chinese people crowd. In Asia, there are the likes of Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines where many Chinese and also locals welcome lion dancing in the modern society during festivities and other occasions. Mostly Chinese lion dancing is performed during the Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year), opening of a business, weddings, birthday celebrations and festivals. Lion dance performers are invited to these occasions since the lion as a myth is believed to bring hope for prosperity, good luck and wisdom.

With regard to long-lived traditions, lion dancing is an important and rather a huge part of Chinese martial arts. In the older days, this form of art is a manner of testing how skilled a wushu school is. Why? This is where the link between “wushu” and “lion dances” enters the picture. 

Wushu and Lion Dance as Part of Chinese Traditions

In the light of Chinese culture and tradition, lion dancing is a way to proliferate the teaching of martial arts to various members of ethnic communities. This art is utilized to spread the true essence of martial arts concerning spiritual, mental and physical elements.

It is said that a background in wushu is a pre-requisite in order for one to gracefully imitate the movements of the lion. There is an old saying that goes “If your lion dance performance is good, your wushu skill should be equally good or even better.” So before practicing lion dance, one must first know wushu and have it as kung fu (skill) for performers to gain strength and flexibility. So it’s no wonder why there are many schools and federations now which are composed with members who are both proficient in wushu and lion dance.

Wushu and Lion Dance for Entertainment

Lion dances are formed from wushu stances and movements that demonstrate fighting poses and agility. Wushu practitioners do not commonly engage and get themselves to actual fights much like lion dancers. These acts they make are only for show and entertainment. While a lion dance is composed of a lion manned by two people (as the lion head and the lion tail), wushu can be performed individually or as a group.

Notes on Lion Dances

Lion dance competitions are arranged with rivaling groups (schools, organizations and other institutions) to see which one perform best with honor and discipline.

Routines are learned and performed as difficulty increases with skill, including multitude of techniques like dancing on 12 foot poles, drumming and tapping on other percussion instruments for the beat of the dance and use of props in the attempt to make the lion more life-like.

Notes on Wushu

If you watch the movies of Jet Li, Jacky Chan, Donnie Yen, Wu Jing and other actors which play and feature martial arts as sports, then that gives you a picture of what wushu is.

Wushu is a Chinese martial arts that has a history of over two thousand years. Originating from China, this Chinese boxing style is most popularized as “kung fu.” But “kung fu” and “wushu” are not the same or do not mean the same thing. When translated, “kung fu” means “hard work” or “effort,” and “wushu” is the act of martial arts.

There are many techniques in wushu that are used for competitions, self-defense, health and mental discipline. While it’s for stage and entertainment, its focus is on development of the internal energy to be used for combat. Modern forms embrace more acrobatic-based techniques than traditional ones, but both of these movements can be used to boost the visual appeal of lion dance.