by Egi Gaisie

Reading Between the Lines-Cindy’s Call

The ability to “read between the lines” can be extraordinarily valuable in business. I became aware of this on the job, as a hotel receptionist(position then titled, front office clerk). I began learning to practice interpreting body language; facial expressions, word emphasis and other nonverbal cues. They place different meanings on words and acquiring the skill to interpret them is useful in general communication.

I applaud Cindy, not her real name; the student who stood up before 400 plus  people in an auditorium to make a suggestion when no questions seemed to be forthcoming during question time.  I recall at that stage of my life I was too shy to get up to ask a question, much more, offer a suggestion which could be controversial, like Cindy did.

I believed she was representing a number of other students when she raised the suggestion about the possibility of their institutions placing students for internship instead of they(students), going out to look for placement for themselves. Could it be that behind the suggestion, is the real concern about security and safety particularly for female students?

Talking with a few female students, I realize they think its a brilliant/ great suggestion; that they be placed by their institutions. However, they expressed further concerns with that too, should posting be done by their respective institutions. It is likely there would be challenges of location of placement since it would be out of their control. There might be undue financial hardship, since interns are not usually paid, on students posted to locations a distance away from their homes.

I did ‘put it to’ a first year hospitality student who was not at the conference when we were discussing the issue;  “is it because there are fears of being sexually abused ?”

‘Oh!’ she replied, perhaps quite surprised at asking the question that bluntly, ‘for that’, she continued, ‘I don’t think that is the main challenge. For you to be sexually harassed, it depends on how you carry yourself. If you don’t create attention you will not be harassed. Also, sexual harassment is everywhere so whether we are placed or not it’s the same people out there’, she concluded.

The discussions I have had on the ground so far,  run contrary to my view, so for now, I guess I will let sleeping dogs lie.

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