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Reese R.

@reeser291

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Learning a new language

Learning a language is often presented as a task with a one-size-fits-all solution. But learning a new language is working out the goals and strategies specific to you.

Every language is different and presents its own challenges. When you learn a new language, forget about fluency. Set achievable, short-term and measurable goals that will give you a sense of achievement.

@reeser291

How to learn a language (and stick at it) | Psyche Guides

psyche.co

At the beginning of learning a language, your goal could be to read a new alphabet or some basic phrases to introduce yourself. As you improve, you can add other goals.

Deciding on goals include how to get there. Consider what you want to get out of learning a new language. Do you want to chat with locals, or do you want to read untranslated novels? Clarity on your goals will help you to think strategically about the methods that will help you most.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to language learning.

Available language methods:

  • Textbooks with written exercises.
  • An all-audio method like Language Transfer.
  • An online language course taught by an expert teacher.
  • A language tutor, where you book online lessons through Italki.
  • Apps such as Duolingo, Memrise and Babbel, vocabulary-building apps such as Drops, a spaced-repetition app like Anki, or Lingualism.
  • Lexilogos offers courses, dictionaries and resources.
  • The Open University offers a free course on how to learn a language.
  • YouTube and podcasts.

When you hit your goals and grow your knowledge of the language, it's time to find content that will help you improve.

  • Consistently expose yourself to language that's just above your current level so your brain can fill in the gaps and raise your language level.
  • Make the most of foreign-language TV shows and movies. Reality shows are easier to grasp and has some cultural benefits.

Intermediate learners often reach a plateau when the gains become more marginal, less immediately rewarding and harder to see.

Targeted and achievable goals will help with focus and motivation. If you are unsure what to do next, hop on a Zoom call with a teacher and ask them to assess your performance to point out what you need to work on next.

  • Talk to yourself in the new language. Talk yourself through whatever you're doing.
  • Keep a diary or notebook in your new language of events of the day.
  • You can also record videos of yourself speaking the target language.
Drowned In Information

Our coworkers are often not able to read or understand our messages due to the sheer barrage of information already trying to get their attention. There are text messages, emails, document updates and other notifications vying for eyeballs and mindshare.

To be successful in conveying our message, we need to design it in such a way that can grab people’s attention. Marketers are experts in designing words that, based on research and data, make people stop and take action. Their tricks can be applied to our memos, emails, reports and messages so that your teammates actually end up reading them.

How to Write For the Way Your Coworkers Actually Read

blog.doist.com

The interface designers at Amazon are experts in providing an intuitive, often exciting digital experience. They start with the end goal in mind and ask the following questions:

  1. What is the problem that we are trying to solve?
  2. Who are our users and what are they trying to do?
  3. What assumptions are being made?
  4. How can this thing be simpler?

We can apply these techniques by asking the same questions towards ourselves and our readers.

If we aren’t talking about the important stuff from the word go, people stop paying attention, usually in about 10 seconds.

Newspaper headline stories follow the ‘inverted pyramid’ technique where the most critical information is on the first paragraph. One can organize an article or product interface in such a way that if the reader only reads the first few sentences, the crucial information is still communicated.

Eye-tracking software shows that the brightly coloured, large button often is the most noticed one. We can utilize this trick to showcase the important information in a clear, non-cluttered format, highlighting or formatting it in such a way that the coworkers have no doubt about what is required from them.

It also helps to link the relevant document links and due dates for ready reference, even if those were already communicated earlier.

The more tools, options or details a reader has, the less likely they are to use the same. More stuff only adds clutter and reduces clarity.

As people only read about 20 percent of the words they encounter, it makes sense to get rid of vague, rambling emails and present the reader with short, to the point paragraphs and brief context, with links to longer discussions.

Most of us read in an F pattern over the computer screen or mobile, where we skim information and read less and less as we scroll down the page. Professional writers use eye-catching headers, which are left-oriented and assist the eye ball movement of the reader.

We can use the same technique and structure our writings with headings and subheadings, using meaningful titles that help the reader navigate with ease. We can make use of bullet points and hyperlinks to further draw the reader's attention.

The human brain has only a small amount of short-term memory, with the average brain holding only about seven chunks of information at a time, for about 20 seconds.

One can make use of chunking related items together and using clear headers and sections to enhance clarity. Breaking large paragraphs into smaller chunks of information makes them easy to retain for the reader.

Just like various accessibility features like auto-complete and voice control, initially made for the disabled, are now widely used by all, it is good to provide information in a simple manner (8th-grade level language) to be easily readable.

It also helps to write in an active voice and use short sentences. The ideal tone should be supportive and reassuring, avoiding any irony or sarcasm.

Describing or showing is often better than telling. Visual stories have a high impact value in this attention-deficit age.

One can use visual aids like screenshots(annotated) to get the point across in a clear, informative way. This is helpful while providing step-by-step instructions or offering feedback on specific areas of a product design.

We all see product and service makers ask for ratings, feedback and check-ins in order to improve their service better.

A business writing can also follow the same user-experience feedback process to improvise their content, clarity or tone.

Truth To Power For Writers
  • Whatever your medium of publication, the first five seconds make or break the interest of the reader.
  • Good ideas are easy to write, and if the idea isn’t a good one, there is a likelihood of a writer’s block.
  • Two decades ago, reading a complete book was easier as there were fewer distractions. Smartphones have made people infinitely distracted due to the constant ‘dopamine hits’ it offers. One has to keep the dwindling attention span of people in mind while writing.
  • Brevity is King.
  • One has to be ruthless in the destruction of bad writings.

A Few Thoughts On Writing · Collaborative Fund

collaborativefund.com

  1. Most good writing has its origins in good reading.
  2. Good ideas can come anytime, usually when you are not working.
  3. Scheduled mind-drilling of ideas produces mediocre results.
  4. You can write something even if someone has already written about it. Winston Churchill has more than a thousand published biographies.
  5. Write something that people know but haven’t verbalized.
  6. Writing isn’t a soft skill, because the best, most persuasive stories are always sought after.
  7. Stop lecturing, and start telling stories.
  8. Writing is art, and what you enjoy writing, people will enjoy reading.
William Maugham
“There are three rules of good writing, unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Expression
  • Daniel Goleman’s book about emotional intelligence (1995) promoted the idea that the ability to understand and employ emotional information is an important skill.
  • Part of that is expressing our emotions (through writing, body language, or talking with other people), and studies show that this process could have some real health benefits.
  • Research linked the repression of negative emotions to increased stress, and research suggests that writing about feelings is associated with better health outcomes for breast-cancer patients, people with asthma, and people who’ve experienced a traumatic event.

How to Get Better at Expressing Your Feelings

theatlantic.com

  • Some of us are better at acknowledging and communicating emotions than others.
  • Among the Big Five personality traits (openness, extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism) research shows that people high in extroversion tend to have higher emotional expressiveness, while people high in neuroticism tend to be less expressive.
  • The ability to communicate feelings can be built up through practice, and a big part of it is first acknowledging the emotions you’re having and recognizing what’s causing them.
  • Emotions communicate meaning and intent.
  • It’s crucial to know that the difference between being irritated with someone because they’re late for a meeting and being concerned because they’re late for a meeting and maybe something’s happened to them.
  • Since emotions are a form of information, it's important to know how to accurately transfer these nuances to people, in a way that they will also accurately perceive.
The Trait Of Agreeableness

People who are more extroverted will talk more.

And we like people who are emotionally expressive most of the time, especially if they are emotionally expressive around positive emotions. This is the trait of agreeableness.

Being “ambivalent” in the context of emotional expression means either you want to express emotions but you aren't able to, or you expressed emotions and kind of wished you hadn’t.

Organizations and even families have their own type of culture and the largest differences around emotions are called cultural-display rules.

All cultures recognize the basic emotions and they’re all expressed the same way, but those display rules, which are a function of our culture, tell us how do we show those emotions. How we express these is completely driven by those cultural-display rules. If you don't know those, you’re seen as an outlier. And maybe as lacking what people would call communication skills.

Great long-term interpersonal relationships (in terms of quality) are based on shared experience but also the ability to share how we are feeling at that time.

And if we are always expected to say positive stuff, we won't be able to reach that level of intimacy that we need in a really good relationship.

  • Acknowledge any signs of tension (in your jaw or eyes) and ask yourself, "Am I worried, am I anxious, am I angry?"
  • Next, ask yourself, “Where is it coming from?”

Knowing that will help you better manage your emotions and express your feelings in a way that will send a good accurate message.

How to seize attention

There are four major ways to grab anyone's attention, no matter what you're telling them.

Connect what you're writing to any of these topics, and you will always have people's attention.

  • Self-preservation: The need to satisfy personal wants.
  • Money: The need to achieve power and means to more choice.
  • Romance: The need to feel love and be loved.
  • Recognition: The need to be respected and the need to belong to a group.

How to Command Attention with Your Writing

hackernoon.com

It involves working to get the best deal possible for yourself while also working to ensure that your counterpart is satisfied.

The “win-win” negotiators seem to have the most success. 

It doesn’t mean you to split resources right down the middle with a sole focus on being “fair", automatically making a concession just because the other party made one or that you should try to avoid conflict and tension at all cost.

What is a Win-Win Negotiation? - PON - Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

pon.harvard.edu

Difficult to convince

It can feel impossible to persuade someone with strong views. This is in part because we look for information to confirm what we already know and avoid or dismiss facts that are opposed to our core beliefs.

However, it is not impossible to sway someone. 

Most people are bad at arguing. These 2 techniques will make you better.

vox.com

We all tend to overrate the power of arguments we find convincing, and wrongly think the other side will be converted. It is pointless to argue a point that your opponents have already dismissed.

The answer is not to simply expose people to another point of view. Find out what resonates with them. Frame your message with buzzwords that reflect their values.

To try and sway the other side, use their morals against them. People have stable morals that influence their worldview. 

However, reframing in terms of values might not turn your opponent's view, but can soften his stance and get him to listen to counterarguments.

Your ideological opponents want to feel like they've been heard. The key is to let the opposition do most of the talking.

People learn lessons better when they come to the conclusion themselves. Listen to people, get them to think about their own experience, and highlight your common humanity. Letting them talk opens the door to reducing prejudice and changing opinions.

Honesty As A Blind Spot

Since man started observing human behaviour, our focus has been on the studies done on deception, morality, and lying. In the last fifty years, almost no study or research has been carried out on honesty in the philosophical domain.

This is glaring neglect as honesty tops the list of the most important virtues, alongside courage, patience, humility and kindness.

We Need to Do More Research on Honesty

scientificamerican.com

As lies morph into a common, accepted standard, our attention (and obsession) is with guilt, fakeness, deceit and manipulation.

Human beings, according to countless behavioural studies, lie when they know they can get away with it, or when they see other people lie, and even when we are in groups, where we tend to mimic the others(herd mentality).

In any social setting, lies keep the world from falling apart, becoming the real global currency:

  • Organizations and their employees routinely lie to preserve identity, protect the reputation of an individual or group
  • In relationships, one lies to spare the other from feeling bad, or to avoid an awkward situation.
  • We lie to ourselves and consistently believe we are smarter or better looking that we really are.
  • We lie on social media.
Recognizing mirrored motion

Italian neuroscientists first noticed the "mirror neuron system." The brain recognizes a kind of micro-kinship.

When we watch a video of someone else smelling something terrible, we will move our face. If someone else's eyes water, so do our own. If they wince in pain, so do we.

The Weirdness of Watching Yourself on Zoom

scientificamerican.com

  • The non-mirror-style self. We are used to seeing ourselves mirror-style. When you move your left hand, it will always be flipped when you view yourself in a mirror. On Zoom, you lift your left hand, and the opposite side moves on Zoom. This feels disorientating. Thankfully, Zoom has fixed this.
  • The perfect self-contingency detection. When you lift your hand in front of a mirror, there is no lag in the image. Now you feel your arm stir and see it move a few seconds later. No wonder we stare at ourselves.
  • Glitchy wifi magnifies the slight asynchrony. The response delay disrupts your feeling of connection with another person. You can't read them, and they can't read you.
  • A documented phenomenon is that we accurately recognize neutral expressions on other faces, but we misidentify our own expressions. We see our own expression as unfavorable most of the time.
Defending everyone's fallibility

When people don't trust you, you’re already at a big disadvantage and anything you say can be dismissed as mere defensive revenge.

The best you can do is to resist fighting for infallibility. Instead, defend everyone's fallibility. You will regain credibility if you posture as a learner, not someone last-word learned.

How to Defend Yourself Without Appearing Defensive

psychologytoday.com

Aristotle’s distinction between three aspects of rhetoric:

  • Your logos or logic: your reasons, the facts of the matter as you see them.
  • Your pathos or emotional appeals to listeners.
  • Your ethos, your identity or posture: what kind of person you portray yourself as being, so that listeners would want to adhere to the you see things.
  • Make your doubter's case against you, so that they feel heard. Visit the possibility that you’re wrong.
  • Show that you get them by giving voice to their doubts.
  • Identify an error you’ve made or something you’ve learned from their feedback.
  • Admit to miscalculation.
  • Honor their right to decide for themselves whether to believe you.

Be careful during the debate, knowing you may have to withdraw in the end. If you take good care, you can withdraw with the consolation of thoroughness. Though you tried hard to restore common ground, you didn’t succeed.

If you have an exit strategy, a way to explain to yourself why you didn’t restore common ground, you won’t feel panicked and tempted to force them into restoring trust in you.

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