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Harley J.

@harleyjj93

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Failure of communication

The goal of effective communication in the workplace is to reach a mutual understanding. We want everyone on the same page so that we can move in the same direction.

When working from home, we can easily confuse being constantly connected to our colleagues with effective communication. But it is not the same. We can follow some strategies to ensure we are getting our point across, and we can listen to others.

@harleyjj93

How to correct communication mistakes that spread workplace confusion

fastcompany.com

Assuming your listeners are aware of the same knowledge as you can lead to a communication breakdown.

A good strategy to avoiding assumption-based confusion is to ensure your message is straightforward and quantifiable. More information is better than less. If you are unsure if you are understood, ask your listeners.

More communication is different from good communication. Before you hit "send" on a companywide email, consider what you are trying to achieve.

Knowing your goal can be helpful in choosing a suitable medium for communication. Before calling a meeting, ask if it is the best way to reach your goal. You may be able to convey the same message in an email thread.

How we communicate comes down to tone. The way we say something matters. It sends messages about how we're feeling.

This is true for verbal and written communication. In writing, the tone is conveyed through language choice and formatting. Capitalised words feel like the sender is shouting. Chatty, unpunctuated messages are not suitable when sending a project update to your boss.

Active listening is an essential part of communication. It does not mean agreeing with everything you're told.

Active listening includes respecting others' perspectives and avoiding judgmental language.

Making people pay attention to your ideas

Mathematician and philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota specialized in functional analysis, probability theory, phenomenology, and combinatorics.

In 1996, he gave a talk, "Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught," which contains valuable practical advice for making people pay attention to your ideas.

Life Lessons From Mathematician and Philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota: Making People Pay Attention To Your Ideas

fs.blog

If we have a conversation, read a book, or listen to a talk, we are very unlikely to remember much of it. Even if we enjoyed and valued it, only a small part will stay with us.

When you are communicating with people, try to give them something to take home. Choose a memorable line or idea, a visual image, or use humour.

Presentation matters. The way our work looks influences how people perceive it.

Take the time to clean your equivalent of a blackboard to signal that you care about what you're doing.

What we present should correspond to what we want an attentive listener to take down in his notebook.

We should make it simple for people to understand our ideas on the spot. We shouldn't expect them to revisit it later. Even if they do, we won't be there to answer questions or clear up any misunderstandings.

Your one main point should be repeated over and over, like a theme with variations.

If we make one point well enough, people will understand and remember it. If we try to fit too much in, the audience will lose interest and go back to their thoughts before they were interrupted.

One minute overtime can destroy the best of lectures.

It's essential to respect the time and attention of others. Attention spans are limited. After a certain point, people stop taking in new information. Don't expect them to still hang on your lips after the required time. Instead, put in the extra work for brevity and clarity.

Try to spot someone in the audience whose work you have some familiarity with. Then rearrange your presentation so as to mention some of that person's work. Everyone in the audience has come to listen to your lecture hoping of hearing their work mentioned.

Reciprocity is very persuasive. If you want people to pay attention to your work, always pay attention to theirs first. Show that you see them and appreciate them.

Mathematician Frederic Riesz published the same ideas multiple times, each time improving until he was ready to publish a final paper.

In our work, we don't need to have fresh ideas all of the time. We can build on an initial idea. Sometimes, we can do our best work through an iterative process. For example, a writer could start by sharing an idea as a tweet. If it gets a good response, the replies help them expand it into a blog post, then a talk, and eventually, a book.

Gian-Carlo Rota noted that many of the mathematicians he admired were known more for their work explaining and building upon existing ideas. Their extensive knowledge of their domain meant that they could expand further.

Never be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants.

They use a few tricks over and over again. The smartest and most successful people are often only good at a few things - or just one thing. However, they maximize those strengths without getting distracted.

If you've hit diminishing returns with improvements, then experiment with things you already have an aptitude for but haven't made them your focus.

There are two kinds of mistakes: One is fatal and can destroy a theory, but the other is small and won't completely ruin your work.

Building in a safety margin, such as more time or funding, can turn fatal mistakes into contingent ones.

Introductions are providing prospective readers with a strong motivation to read your work.

Introductions are about:

  • explaining what a piece of work will be about,
  • what the purpose is,
  • and why someone should be interested in it.
The Logic Behind Lying

According to several studies done regarding dishonesty, the motivation of a person to lie increases when there is a self-benefitting factor behind it.

Therefore, the higher and bigger the benefit, the higher and the bigger motivation there is for the person to lie.

This Is Your Brain on Lies - Mindful

mindful.org

  • The part of our brain that shows much activity when lying is our amygdalas - the one responsible for processing emotions and arousal, as well as the fight or flight response.
  • It has been perceived that with every lie we tell there is a decrease of activity in our amygdala. The bigger the level drop of activity, the bigger the next lie will be.
  • The more we lie the more we become desensitized to the negative emotions corresponding to each lie told.

To prevent desensitization we must be wary of every action and word we speak. It's basically practicing being mindful - the practice of paying attention to our body's every behavior and being present with our emotional state.

Once we develop our ability to be aware of our emotional state we can resist the unconscious desensitization of adverse emotions and reduce the chances of lying repetitively.

Over time, with the more lies we tell and how big they are, it costs us our ability to empathize and be compassionate towards ourselves and other people.

Humans have the power to deceive other people but also the ability to convince ourselves of the untruths we tell ourselves.

The moment we gain insight as to what our motivation is to lie, it is possible we can prevent ourselves from telling the lie in the first place.

Overusing "I'm Sorry"

According to psychologists, we habitually apologize in our communication, but we can learn to be considerate without saying the word "sorry".

We don’t have to needlessly apologize for everything we do. Overusing the word "sorry" makes us feel timid, unconsciously diminishing our confidence.

Sorry to bother you, but do you say “sorry” too much? What to say instead

ideas.ted.com

  • We can eliminate 'Sorry' from our vocabulary when we bump into someone, and replace it with ‘Go ahead’, ‘Pardon me’ or ‘After you’, for example.
  • During meetings, we can use phrases like ‘I have an Idea’ or ‘I would like to add…’.

Gratitude is the best way to end the sorry pandemic, and we can always thank the other person(s) for whatever small inconvenience there was (like waiting).

We can also cultivate a habit of pointing out to the other person if a sorry isn’t required.

In less than one-tenth of a second of seeing someone for the first time, our brain processes information about the person’s face—which leads to quick conclusions about a new acquaintance’s qualities, including trustworthiness, competency, friendliness, honesty and morality.

How to Make a Good First Impression, According to Experts | Time

time.com

Know your context

It’s important to first consider where you are trying to make a good impression—whether it’s a formal job interview or a dinner date. 

Context matters. It gives you cues as to how you should dress, speak, look and behave, in a way that matches the setting you are entering to. That is a key aspects of making a good impression. 

Try not to look bored, rude or hostile.

A useful attitude is welcoming, curious and enthusiastic: smile, make eye contact long enough to notice the color of that person’s eyes, sit without crossing your arms or legs. This project a positive, open warm impression.

We tend to like people who are a little bit similar to us.

Start with your shared environment, ike commenting on the weather or something you notice in your surroundings, then move to facts, ike the reason you’re gathering or a recent news story. You’re likely to find something you both connect with.

People always remember how you made them feel.

Taking the focus off of yourself and putting it on someone else can help others perceive you in a better light: make someone feel appreciated, find a point of commonality to bond over or share something interesting you’ve learned.

While appearing overly fatigued might not be an accurate portrayal of who you are, it can adversely contribute to people’s first impression of you.

And multiple studies suggest poor sleep cand lead others to perceive you as less attractive, less smart, more depressed and less healthy.

If you’re constantly worried about whether or not you’re doing or saying the right thing, you could appear insincere or too strategic.

And if your nerves are getting the best of you but the setting allows for candor, admitting to your nerves can help show your true self and may be used to your advantage.

  • Ask open-ended questions: they unlock more information from people
  • Ask “why” 3 times:  the easiest way to deepen the level of a conversation
  • Ask about specifics, not generalizations
  • Frame questions around a person’s reactions to experiences
  • Pay attention to answers and ask follow-up questions to dig deeper
  • If you want to learn from somebody, the easiest way is to ask them what they’ve learned
  • The most interesting information is found in stories, so ask people to tell you one
  • Ask what else you should ask.

The 3 Minutes It Takes To Read This Will Improve Your Conversations Forever

medium.com

Feeling emotionally unsafe

When people feel emotionally threatened, they are not speaking of getting their feelings hurt or being forced to listen. It is when they experience dehumanizing language and behavior.

Dehumanizing is making someone seem not worthy of humane treatment.

Dehumanizing Always Starts With Language | Brené Brown

brenebrown.com

Dehumanization has fueled innumerable acts of violence, human rights violations, war crimes, and genocides like slavery, torture and human trafficking.

Groups are depicted as "less than" or evil when they are targeted based on their identity - gender, ideology, skin color, religion or age. The group eventually falls out of the scope of who is protected by our moral code.

Dehumanizing always starts with language

Images often follow after language.

  • During the Holocaust, Nazis described Jews as subhuman. Jews were called rats and depicted as disease-carrying rodents - from military pamphlets to children's books.
  • Hutus in the Rwanda genocide called the Tutsis cockroaches. 
  • Serbs called Bosnians aliens.

We can rehumanize in the same way as dehumanizing - with words and images.

  • Be careful when you push the people whom you disagree with into the territory of moral exclusion.
  • Find the face of God in everyone you meet, including politicians, media and strangers.

We will all, at some time, experience a real, face-to-face conflict.

Do we have to put up with someone tearing us down or questioning the right to exist? Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed?

The line is usually drawn at physical and emotional safety.

Beliefs Are Tattooed In The Mind

A University Of Iowa research states that once people form their beliefs, they are not likely to change their minds on the face of new information that clearly proves that their long-held beliefs are completely wrong. They are far more likely to go on protecting and fighting for their beliefs.

Even if the new information is extremely compelling and the person has no choice but to change their opinion, it is a temporary change that reverts back fast.

People are stubborn — but one method may be effective in changing minds

inverse.com

  • Other people's opinions and feedback play a larger role than factual proof in debunking the existing thought patterns, beliefs and opinions of an individual.
  • While trying to tell right from wrong, like a multiple choice question, what other people are choosing plays an important role in the final choice.
  • Being an expert in a particular field also has the reverse effect, as one is less inclined to learn anything new, preferring the safety and comfort of the existing set of knowledge.

A direct, upfront message aimed at debunking an existing belief has little effect on swaying an opinion, but if the message first presents the old belief and the justifications behind it, followed by the facts that try to refute the same, a bridge is created, and the impact is greater.

Corporate Speak

Words matter in the office and many of our verbal habits are not suitable in a professional environment and end up undermining our credibility and perception.

What we say and not say ends up weakening or strengthening our work relationships, team effectiveness and our communication with clients and bosses.

The one phrase that can transform your effectiveness at work

fastcompany.com

  • A neutral, effective and powerful phrase that one can use in any professional setting politely, is ‘Tell Me’.
  • It is a doorway question and other people end up providing valuable information, including their needs, wants and views. This phrase, coupled with good listening skills is a magic bullet in any conversation.
  • The person who opens up to you is your friend and makes your work easier. The phrase ‘Tell Me’ opens up the other person promptly.
The Reason We Communicate

The essence of communication is to inform, influence, inspire, motivate, learn, socialize and build relationships. Communication makes possible persuasion, negotiation, and improved work delivery.

How to Set Communication Goals to Improve Your Social Relationships

lifehack.org

Your style of speaking, or writing, choice of words while conveying your idea, or point of view are very powerful components in communicating with effectiveness and purpose.

The right word said the right way can make all the difference.

Your words need to be interesting both in terms of content (what is being said) and delivery (how it is being said) to be able to draw the people towards what you are trying to say.

Active listening makes you a better communicator. If you haven’t listened properly, your response or feedback can be faulty.

Your eyes and ears need to fully comprehend what is being said to be able to communicate better.

Communicating with emotion, while sometimes useful, can ‘taint’ or filter your content in unpredictable ways. Put your emotions under control while communicating.

It helps to relate with people, as it makes them naturally drawn towards you. This skill is essential in any work or social setting.

Develop habits and skills that make you relatable and also approachable.

Being able to persuade is an essential skill. Your ideas, without any convincing power can be worth nothing, even if they are good.

This also helps people who are in a competitive environment.

Our bias, personal feelings, prejudice, and interpretations wreak havoc on our communication.

Being objective means having an open mind and communicating with facts and figures.

Your enthusiasm, energy, empathy and sincerity speak volumes and add to your verbal and non-verbal communication.

Your actions too, speak louder than your words. Do the deeds and say the words that inspire others.

If part of a team, ensure that the team communication is promoting productivity and togetherness, forging a sense of community and harmony.

This is one of the most neglected pieces of action, and is a must.

Communicate to tie up the loose ends, get feedback, set reminders and move on to next things in the agenda. Follow-up also removes any lingering doubt in the other persons minds which may arise due to lack of communication.

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