Research agencies engaged in conducting poll surveys will be appreciated far more than at present if only they treat such poll eve opportunities beyond commercial concerns, suggests N. Bhaskara Rao in A Handbook of Poll Surveys in Media: An Indian perspective (www.gyanbooks.com). Also, he calls for a continual update and modification of research methodology with regard to design, sampling and even analysis, taking into account the changing electoral scene.

The author fears that when news media relies excessively on surveys, the spirit of democracy could be dampened. “If poll surveys cannot motivate and activate civic sense and societal concerns, they have the potential to blunt ‘free and fair’ conduct of elections and snub voter activism.”

He decries the practice of some journalists and political activists being described as psephologists. “A journalist could function better as an investigative analyst and come up with more reliable figures than a psephologist… A journalist, a political activist, and an analyst working together can make a better sense of surveys and enlighten citizens far more.”

Rao foresees that the surveys in the year 2014 elections will draw more on Websites, text messaging, digital campaigning and social networks. “But for them to be reflective, special efforts are required for citizen to become more sensitive, articulate and active in availing these sources and in responding or giving cooperation to surveys.”

Useful analysis.

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Tracking is worth the expense

In eBay auctions, follow-up is very important if you do not want negative feedback posted against you, counsels Mary Greenwood in How to Negotiate Like a Pro: 41 rules for resolving disputes (www.macmillanpublishersindia.com). “As an eBay seller, you need to communicate regularly with your buyers to keep them informed. They need to know how much money they owe, including postage and handling. They should be informed when payment is received and told when to expect the delivery and the method of shipping.”

Tracking and delivery confirmation can be useful techniques in this regard, she recommends. “The tracking is worth the expense. Both sides can check the tracking and will know if there is a delay and if it is the carrier’s fault. If the item is lost and you do not have tracking, no one will know for sure what happened to the item.”

Another ‘rule’ in the book is to be willing to apologise when things go awry in eBay transactions. “Show some empathy and apologise for the inconvenience or miscommunication even if you believe it is the post office’s fault for losing the package or the package arriving broken.”

A section on how to negotiate with a hotel offers helpful tips such as: If you don’t ask, you don’t get; keep track of the paperwork; only negotiate with someone with authority; and do your research. Occasionally, walking away may also work. For instance, “If you are not getting any response about getting a good rate, you might mention what the rate is next door.”

Handy reference.

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