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Lila S.

@lila_ls86

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Emails are fundamental to our daily communications

About 300 billion emails are sent around the globe every day. On average, people working in an office get 121 emails per working day. We often send and read them without thinking about them for a second.

But emails are vital. We send them because of traceability or a time difference, or we need many people reading the same thing.

@lila_ls86

5 tips to writing emails that will always get you a reply

ideas.ted.com

An effective subject line consists of three things:

  • It is short
  • It calls for action
  • It indicates familiarity with the recipient

For example, Meeting tomorrow, please respond!

Sending an email written in black and white is like speaking in a monotone voice, without using your body or face.

We can add feeling by using different kinds of punctuation and emojis - the digital body language. Think of digital body language as the spices and seasoning - depending on the culture, environment and background, you may use more or less, or none at all.

Research shows that many emails aren't read but just skimmed or deleted. Every word you write past your first 40, you directly reduce the chances of getting an answer.

  • Be very brief, around 280 characters. But that may be impossible.
  • Otherwise, the part where you ask for something can be kept to the length of a tweet.
  • Meeting notes can be included as an attachment.

Dale Cargenie stated that "A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language."

If you use a person's name at critical moments and in proportion, you will increase the likelihood of getting an answer. But, if you misspell the person's name, you can completely ruin your email.

The last impression can be just as powerful as the first impression. It's the one thing that sticks with your reader.

If there is one important thing to say or one vital thing you need from your recipient, try to wait until the end and put it in the P.S. line.

  1. Adjust your body language.
  2. Learn to handle friendly teasing.
  3. Tell your own embarrassing stories.
  4. Let go of managing people's opinions of you.

How To Turn Awkwardness Into Confidence

youtube.com

By simply adjusting your body language, you can improve both how you see yourself (thus, improving your self-confidence) and how other people see you.

Give everyone in your audience at least 3 seconds of continuous eye contact before moving to the next person. This is usually enough to make people feel included in a conversation.

The '3-second rule' is a great and simple way to engage your audience and convey a sense of ease with it, even when you're feeling nervous.

... and gesticulate while you're speaking.

Hiding your hands and palms usually signals to your audience that you are hiding something, thus making you look less trustworthy.

Using your hands also makes your stories and arguments seem more intriguing.

Embrace the awkward moment fully. By doing this, you show true confidence.

The fear of looking ridiculous and being judged by others freezes your emotions and expressions, amplifying your discomfort in front of others.

  • Take up more space: this signals that you are not afraid to take control on a physical level and it shows increased confidence.
  • Laugh with the group: if you laugh with it, it goes away in most cases.
  • Double down on the joke: amplifying the joke puts you in control of the situation, shows your human side and spreads the laughter.
  • Show confident body language, especially if the story is self-deprecating.
  • Use high impact words, packed with emotions, to draw people's attention.
  • Embody the characters of the story (act like they would and match their voice and accent).

99% of all awkward situations are made worse because you are trying to be perceived in a certain way by the others.

Stop managing people's opinions of you. Your confidence should not be based on those outside perceptions, but in recognizing that you are not perfect and liking yourself anyway.

Fake Smile Vs Genuine Smile

People think of a smiling person as likable, trustworthy, cooperative, and believable. But smiling is so easy anyone can fake it and exploit the other person.

Genuine smiles involve a few wrinkles around the eyes and are also called Duchenne smiles. The problem is people can also crank out a seemingly genuine smile on demand.

If smiles are so easy to fake, why do we trust them? | Psyche Ideas

psyche.co

A smiling face is better than a non-smiling one, so many people put on a plastic smile.

According to research on human social interaction by Alex Pentland, a computer scientist: An engaged, responsive smile that is contextual is likely to be genuine. A consistent smile, without paying any attention to what is being said at the moment is most probably fake.

Scott H Young
t;People don’t judge you so much for who you are as they judge you for how you communicate yourself.&

Mastering Conversation | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

  • Humor: It takes a lot of practice until you can figure out the natural timing and flow of a joke. Practice makes perfect.
  • Interest comes from having an interesting life. You can be interesting by telling stories  or by simply being quick to bring up an interesting fact.

Interest is similar to humor whenever people discover something they didn’t expect.

  • You need to have an interesting point to make it worthwhile.
  • Your most interesting point should be the last thing you say in your story.
  • Keep it short.
  • Keep it personal. People prefer stories about people they know.
  • The more you tell a story the better you get the natural timing and emphasis. 

Conversational rhythm is of critical importance when you are trying to enter a conversation, particularly with strangers. Starting out with a long story isn’t nearly as effective as offering a quip. Once you integrate yourself into a conversation you can start offering longer stories to fill the space.

Improving conversations

Differing opinions and debates are good things as they help us balance each other out and move us forward as a society. But, such discussions can often turn into a situation where feelings are hurt, egos are wounded, and rifts end up much deeper than before.

This kind of damage is easily avoided by choosing phrases that will improve conversation.

Say This, Not That: 5 Phrases to Improve Discussion

design.org

It is frustrating when you're arguing with someone, and you feel like they don't listen. But you really only have control over what you do. You can't make someone listen to you, but you can listen to them.

Instead of accusing the other person of not listening, say "I'm listening," followed by repeating what they just said. Once they feel heard, they'll feel respected. When they feel respected, they're more likely to return the favour.

Most people have more in common than they think. A genuine agreement is a great tool during an argument. Saying, "You're right" or "I agree with you" can establish some common ground to have a productive or meaningful conversation.

Along with that, you should still avoid saying "You're wrong" as it immediately puts someone on their guard and alienates them.

We don't know everything, especially when it comes to someone else's beliefs and opinions. People are complex. Someone who belongs to a political party, group, or religion, may not agree with everything that group does or believes.

When someone is trying to explain how they feel, don't assume you already know. Instead, ask clarifying questions. Repeat back what they say to demonstrate and build comprehension.

Often, a personal attack has nothing to do with the subject of the argument. Most people have good reasons for thinking or feeling the way they do. People also have good intentions. They don't feel a certain way because they're heartless or mean but believe their opinion is really "better " in some way.

Recognise their good intent and refuse to use ad hominem attacks to bring them down and thus "win" the argument.

Sometimes it is best to say nothing at all. For example, if one or both of you are getting emotional or worked up, you're repeating the same arguments, or arguments are starting to get personal.

If you get to the point where your relationship might be in jeopardy, or you're starting to be unkind, it's okay to let it go. If the discussion needs to be stopped, be the one to stop it.

The Gish gallop

It is a rhetorical technique that involves overwhelming your opponent with numerous vague arguments, with no regard for accuracy, validity, or relevance of those arguments.

The Gish gallop is a misleading rhetorical technique, rather than a logical fallacy because it doesn't represent a pattern of flawed reasoning.

Gish Gallop: When People Try to Win Debates by Using Overwhelming Nonsense - Effectiviology

effectiviology.com

A classic example is when a proponent of some pseudoscience bombards an expert with many weak arguments and start a new argument each time the expert successfully refute one of them.

But Gish gallops also appear in less formal contexts. E.g., someone who wants to support an unfounded stance on social media might post a huge list of irrelevant sources that they didn't actually read.

When responding to specific arguments within a Gish gallop, you can use certain techniques to respond effectively to the flawed arguments.

  • When someone states there is support for their stance, you can ask your opponent to list the specific evidence they claim support their view.
  • When responding to generalised claims, show that they contradict the scientific consensus on the topic.
  • In live debates, a person using the Gish gallop will fire off arguments one after another to attempt to overwhelm the opponent.
  • In online discussions, Gish gallopers will list a large number of sources that supposedly support their stance. They will search for relevant keywords, then list all the sources regardless if the sources support their stance. It works to some degree since many people won't bother with the list of references and just assume they're valid and relevant.

The Gish gallop technique was first known by names such as 'argument by verbosity', 'proof by verbosity', and 'shotgun argumentation.'

Professor Eugenie Scott used the term 'Gish gallop' to describe the debate technique of Duane Gish, a Young-Earth creationist, who was "allowed to run on for 45 minutes or an hour, spewing forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn't a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate."

Arguments in a Gish gallop often contain various logical fallacies, such as the strawman fallacy which attacks a fabricated argument, or appeals to nature, which claims something is good because it is perceived as natural.

The Gish gallop technique is used for two main reasons:

  1. It is often easier to raise weak arguments than it is to refute them.
  2. People generally prefer simple arguments and not complex refutations. The Gish gallop often contains these arguments which offer a compelling argument.

The Gish galloper will often use a prepared list of arguments that they can fire off rapidly. They then appear well prepared because a person is unlikely to refute every single point.

  • Full rebuttal. Go over every point made by your opponent, and refute each of them individually.
  • Sample-based rebuttal. Select a representative sample of your opponent's arguments, either randomly or based on some criteria, then refute only those arguments.
  • Thematic rebuttal. It consists of identifying the main theme of your opponent's arguments and arguing against that.
  • Group-point rebuttal. Dividing the opposing arguments into distinct groups, then addressing each group separately.
  • Best-point rebuttal. Addressing only the strongest piece of evidence presented by your opponent.
  • Worst-point rebuttal. Addressing only the weakest pieces of evidence.

Different techniques will work better in different circumstances based on who your opponent is and what your goals are.

Regardless of which technique you use, you can generally point out that your opponent is using the Gish gallop, especially if you need to explain why you cannot provide a full, point-by-point rebuttal.

Explain how your opponent is using this technique and why it is problematic.

This technique's strength is that it frames the course of the debate and can create a false appearance of credibility and control.

  • Because it gives an advantage to the Gish galloper, your best course of action is to avoid playing their game.
  • Don't allow the opponent to establish this type of rhetoric. However, this is not possible in online discussions.
  • If your opponent already used the Gish gallop, ask them to defend specific pieces of evidence.
Awkward Work Scenarios
  1. Others taking credit for your work: speak up when presenting your joint ideas, else the boss will remember that the other was the one who did all the talking.
  2. Overanalyzing your tone or watering down criticism: understand the difference between sounding arrogant and assertive.
  3. Noisy coworkers: work somewhere else in the office or record the noises that you make during a workday—maybe the noises aren’t as bad as you think.
  4. Beign interrupted during meetings: to speak with authority and presence you need to feel worth listening to, and you can develop it for yourself.
  5. Making friends in the office: invite a coworker to lunch or ask to join a group of them. People are often happy to have new additions.
  6. Firing a hard worker that isn’t good enough: set clear benchmarks, and let them know what will happen if they don’t meet them.
  7. You want to leave early but others work late: talk to your boss if there is no reason for the extra time.
  8. Your employees don’t respect you: project confidence in your new role, then be specific and clear about your expectations.
  9. Interviewing while pregnant: it’s an opportunity to show your resourcefulness and preparation. Be ready with a plan for minimizing the impact of your absence.
  10. You don't want to attend to happy hour: try coming up with some time during work to bond–like lunch or family-friendly weekend events.

How To Deal With The 10 Most Uncomfortable Work Situations

fastcompany.com

Crises Can Confuse Communication

Failing in communication can have a big impact during a crisis. Sometimes things that are transparent to one party may be interpreted differently by another. Therefore, choosing certain words can help us to persuade and win over people we are talking to.

The simple words that save lives

bbc.com

Talking vs Speaking

During a crisis, using the word "talk" to begin a conversation, "Can we talk about how you are?" often gets a negative response. The reason is that we place little value on "talk." Talk is cheap or meaningless. However, substituting the word with "speak", seems to have better results.

"Talk" is loaded with context that makes it fruitless in these scenarios, while the word "speak" is free from those associations.

Being Willing

The principles for a positive and constructive discussion are framing your conversation in positivity.

By framing conversations to focus on the positive, one can move a problem forward.

Unintended Consequences

Conversations between doctors and parents talking about the wellbeing of a child can often look like negotiations, even if not intended.

Parents may say that they are worried that their child may have an infection and the doctor may think that the parent expects antibiotics.

The doctor hears “infection” and immediately makes the connection with antibiotics. But for parents, that association does not exist.

Something vs Anything

In a study, one group of physicians were instructed to ask their patients: "Is there anything else you want to address?" The other group were asked to say: "Is there something else you want to address?"

With "anything" 53% of patients raised extra concerns.
With "something" 90% of patients raised extra concerns.

By substituting one word, we can raise a willingness to address concerns.

People in crisis are often emotional and incoherent. 

Questions with “Yes” or “No” answers are very useful for getting information quickly.

With more subtle questions, give a "menu" of at least three possible answers to avoid the question being misinterpreted.

Listen to yourself speak

Most people don't like to hear their own voice, but nothing will squash those verbal ticks quite like listening to yourself speak. Record yourself in a natural conversation, such as a conference call, then replay and listen to yourself speak.

Pay attention to filler words, up talk, monotone, and run-on sentences.

How to Be More Articulate And Improve Your Speech

rd.com

If you are not sure if you’re speaking too fast or too slow, copy and paste a 160-word passage into a word processor. Read the excerpt aloud at your normal speed while recording yourself. It should take about a minute.

A normal conversation should take about 155 to 175 words per minute. Pick up the pace when you are reciting information or summarising something. If you're explaining technical information, slow it down.

Words such as "um," "like," and "ahh," can make you sound unsure and inarticulate.

Replace these filler words with fluent words. "Um," tells your audience that you're collecting your thoughts. Instead, use 'Let's move on to ...' or 'Another important consideration is...'

Make a conscious effort to pronounce each syllable and avoid mumbling or trailing off.

Pay attention to the Ts in contractions and the last words in a sentence.

Articulate speakers learn from other speakers.

Find a radio show or podcast you enjoy, and spend some time analysing the host's speech.

Your posture impacts the way people perceive your ideas.

Extend your vocal cords by keeping your chin parallel to the floor, sitting up straight, and avoid moving your hands too much.

Know what you want to say.

When you have a clear idea of what you want to communicate, you can organise your thoughts into a coherent structure.

Once you know your weaknesses, create a plan for overcoming them.

Tackle a specific issue each day. Focus on filler words on Monday, and on completing your sentences on Tuesday. Repeat the process until speaking clearly is a habit.

Second-person self-talk and increased performance

A series of studies have confirmed that speaking to yourself can influence your performance. When comparing the effectiveness of self-talk using first person pronouns "I can do this!" to second-person pronouns "You can do this!", researchers found that second-person self-talk improved performance.

Previous research suggested that second-person self-talk enhances public speaking performance because it increased self-distancing - where you step outside your immediate emotions and view them instead from a detached perspective.

How to Talk Yourself Into Better Endurance

outsideonline.com

  • Individual variation. Not everyone benefits from the second-person self-talk. People with more narcissistic tendencies use first-person pronouns more frequently, making them more or less sensitive to the effect.
  • Customized self-talk for athletes. Framing self-statements in a positive light tend to be encouraging and actionable. For example, changing "keep grinding" to "I (You) can keep going."

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