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Sharpening your thinking

Without writing, it's pretty hard to capture and freeze your thinking, so that you can sharpen it: for example, observing when you're using words that are not well defined or when you're saying things that don't need to be said.


How to Use Writing to Sharpen Your Thinking | Tim Ferriss

An easy way of getting into the habit of writing, of moving a pen with the aim of seeing your thinking on paper, is starting the practice of Morning Pages (3 pages of stream of consciousness).

It helps you by taking your worries and negative thoughts from your head and putting them in a freeze-frame (so that you can go along with the rest of your day) and it also allows you to see when you are dull or sharp in your thinking.

... for revising your writing:

  • The first edit is for yourself (what you like and what you think is good)
  • The second round is for the people that like what you write ( the people you think will like your material)
  • The third round is for the critics (for the people that try to find the smallest mistakes in your material).
  • Aim to choose people that are not trained to proofread and ask them to highlight the stuff they find confusing.
  • Ask them to note the moment when their minds start to wander while they're reading your material. Opt to take those parts out.
  • Ask them to indicate the 10% of your writing that you should absolutely keep (if there is a 10% that is worth keeping).
  • Ask them which parts they would cut off (10-20%) if they had to cut something.
Tim Ferriss
"People can like what you write, they can dislike it, they can love it, they can hate it, but it should not confuse anybody."
Charisma is a skill

Charisma, defined as that irresistible magnetism some people possess, is often thought of as trait you’re born with (you either have it or you don’t).

But the truth is that charisma is a skill you can learn.

The Charisma Myth: Practical Advice on Becoming More Likable

There are 3 keys to being charismatic: 

  • you need to be present in the moment when engaging with others.
  • you need to give off warmth by implying goodwill toward others.
  • you need to appear powerful by coming across as someone capable of affecting the world around you.

... by making a graceful exit. Offer the other person something of value before you go:

  • Information: an article, book, or web site you think might be of use to them.
  • A connection: someone they ought to meet, whom you know and can introduce them to.
  • Visibility: an organization you belong to, where you could invite them to speak.
  • Recognition: an award you think they should be nominated for
Experiencing phone anxiety

Phone anxiety - or telephobia - is the fear and avoidance of phone conversations.

It is more than just disliking a phone. You may feel extremely nervous or anxious before, during and after the call. You may obsess or worry about what you will say. Physical symptoms include nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, and muscular tension.

Phone call anxiety: why so many of us have it, and how to get over it

Phone calls only focus on our voice. Other social cues are absent, making talking on the phone daunting.

  • Anxious people may prefer texting, seeing it as a superior medium of expressive and intimate contact.
  • Texting can give people a chance to think about their words but can potentially encourage the development of a different personality to their real-life self.
  • Phone calls may also feel overwhelming because we feel the pressure of being someone else's sole focus.

The best way to overcome phone anxiety is to make more phone calls.

  • Start by making a list of the people you need to speak to on the phone, like friends or colleagues.
  • Consider what makes you anxious, for example, making a mistake.
  • When the call is over, acknowledge your success.

If you've tried to overcome your phone anxiety or need professional help, counselling might be a great option. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is another effective treatment.

  • People are spending only a small part of their time on judging you; your self-judgment is overwhelmingly larger.
  • People who seem to be mean don’t usually do it intentionally. There are exceptions, but generally, the hurt you feel is a side-effect.
  • Relationships are your job to maintain. Don’t wait to be invited to parties or for people to approach you.

The Critical 7 Rules To Understand People

Most of the intentions behind our actions are hidden. If a person is feeling depressed or angry, usually the resulting behaviors distort their true feelings.

By focusing on empathy you can usually break away these subversions and get to the heart of the issue faster.

Most of the time you feel something, nobody else knows about it. So don’t get angry when people aren’t responding to you.

If you deceive your thoughts with your actions, don’t get angry when you fool people.

It happens when helping you directly or indirectly helps me. And our behavior is largely dictated by it.

Start understanding the motives of people and appeal to them as if they were selfish. Don’t expect people to offer aid outside of selfish altruism, it isn’t impossible, but it isn’t likely.

People are forgetful by nature (especially with information they don't find relatable), so don’t assume hostility or disinterest if something is forgotten.

Don't assume everything is fine just because someone isn’t having a nervous breakdown.

We all have our individual problems, angst, and upsets that are normally repressed.

We are social animals and we feel especially sensitive to any threats to becoming ostracized.

So many people who seem to have it all suffer from periods of loneliness.

Videos that go viral

We are more likely to share a video or an article that creates a very strong positive or negative emotion in us.

These emotions could be: excitement, happiness and even anger.

What Makes Positive Content Go Viral?

Feeling inspired motivates us to better ourselves. It energizes us and pushes us beyond pursuing self-interest to helping others.

  • There is a set of environmental elicitors that we associate with inspiration. These include beautiful nature, art, vastness, religious traditions, gifts, and kindness.
  • We also feel inspired when we see other people express appreciation for beauty, acting thankful, showing exceptional skills, encouragement, perseverance, and overcoming setbacks.
  • YouTube videos that contained elicitors of hope were more likely to be viewed.
  • On Facebook, depictions of nature, vastness, art, and gratitude in the form of thankfulness, predicted how many likes it received. The more inspiring elicitors from any category, the more likely it is to go viral.
  • Articles that were longer and contained more inspirational words (e.g., awe, inspiring, profound, appreciate) were more likely to be viral.
  • Inspiring movies and TV shows that contained hope were the most liked. The most frequent environmental elicitors involved nature and vastness.
  • Over all of the media, the most liked content portrays nature, encouragement, and overcoming obstacles (hope portrayals).
Avoiding sensitive questions comes at a cost

Asking sensitive questions can help build stronger relationships. However, we should know how to seek useful information while minimising the discomfort we feel.

We often avoid asking questions that feel too sensitive or personal. But, when negotiating a salary or finding a place to stay, knowing how much a coworker earns or how much a friend pays in rent can be very useful.

The Case for Asking Sensitive Questions

  • Rather than directly asking a delicate question, take the time to explain why you're asking and how you plan to use the information.
  • Find an appropriate, private environment for a one-on-one conversation.

Research points out that people avoid asking sensitive questions out of fear that they would offend the other party. But when they finally did ask sensitive questions, most people were far less offended than expected.

Moreover, asking personal questions also triggered meaningful conversations that fostered stronger relationships.

  • Smile. A smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone.
  • The right handshake. A proper handshake can convey confidence.
  • Introductions. Throw in a verbal introduction as you meet with people, even something as basic as "great to meet you".
  • Speak clearly.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Use body language. Most of us instinctively mirror each other's body language. Mirroring body language is a non-verbal way of saying "we have something in common."

6 ways successful people make a great first impression

Taking offense

Most of us have felt offended at a remark. However, we have probably also experienced the shock of finding out that others were offended by our comments, even if we had no intention of hurting them.

We take offense at explicitly rude language directed at us. We also take offense at what was meant or implied by a comment.

These are the reasons why you find something offensive

Our expectations are mostly formed in the context of our relationships with others. When they are breached, we tend to feel offended.

  1. Foreseeability expectations. They drive us to expect others to predict the potentially negative impact of their words and actions: "I did not expect to hear this from my friend."
  2. Reciprocity expectations. They are based on hoping that our favours or kindness are returned in kind.
  3. Equity expectations. They are about our desire to be treated fairly and equally.

We often take offense outside our personal relationships—for example, a comment on Facebook that ridicules or questions something we find important or of value.

We use our values and beliefs to make judgements. Our belief in specific values may be an important part of our identity and explains why we take offense when those values are not respected.

If you are not sure if you will cause offense, try to put yourself in the shoes of the people you are talking to. Ask yourself if you are saying what they would realistically expect you to say and if you are treating them fairly.

If you feel you take offense too quickly, consider what the offending person may not know about you. Rather than being angry about a comment, remember that they may have a different experience and worldview.

Why We Use Jargon

Jargon is used by people to convey certain information in a shortened way and is irritating to hear for some. It conveys a tone of pride and is exclusionary by default.

Studies about using jargons reveal that people with this behavioural trait are insecure or are usually from lower-status institutions.

In defence of jargon – it might be infuriating but it also has its uses

Research shows that the business world, especially venture capitalists, investors and knowledgeable insiders, are unimpressed by unnecessary jargon, and can even form a negative perception towards new technologies. Doctors using medical jargon are often uncommunicative to the patient.

Even experts agree that certain key terms in jargon can mean different things to different people, making the whole exercise useless.

Jargon is sometimes useful as it makes information concise and clear, at least to the experts. It also helps objectify the problem and create a certain distance, helping in situations (like in the medical field) where emotions may be detrimental to the situation.

Jargons help in forming ‘code words’ which are understood by the inner circle, and create bonds between fellow workers in the same domain.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
  • After IQ and EQ, Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a new type of intelligence on the rise due to globalization and a complex, competitive and dynamic business environment.
  • Employees having a high level of CQ are able to act as a bridge that connects to a diverse group of peers, transferring knowledge and helping build interpersonal connections.
  • Their multi-faceted, multicultural approach gives a global, vibrant flavour to the product or service that they are working on while driving up innovation and creativity within the team.

Why You Need Cultural Intelligence (And How To Develop It)

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a system comprising of three well-connected components:

  1. Cultural Knowledge: The content and process knowledge of the various cultures.
  2. Cross-cultural Skills: A wide range of skills that pertain to the various facets of a culture, like relational, tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity, adaptability, empathy, and the ability to understand other people's feelings.
  3. Cultural Metacognition: Also called cultural mindfulness, is the art of being aware of the cultural context, the subtleties of various situations, and the kind of strategies that can be taken.

One can develop cultural knowledge through newspapers, movies, travelling to various countries, and interacting officially or personally with people of different cultures, learning new traditions, customs, cuisines, and rich new ways to live life.

One can identify and analyse the different cultures and utilize the knowledge in future.

Experiential learning, On-the-job training or studying abroad make us develop various cross-cultural skills in a course of time. The process takes less time when there is already ample cultural knowledge.

Example: Showing up ten minutes late in a meeting is not considered rude in Spain.

This advanced cognitive understanding of other cultures takes place when one observes and analyzes the behaviour of the person from a different culture you want to learn about.

One needs to pay a good amount of attention to check, reflect and optimize the other person’s behaviour to be able to develop this cognitive ability.




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