How do ideas come into being? How are stories developed? Some people like to talk through their thoughts. Others, myself included, find their way to a conclusion through the written word. Writing, for many people, is not just laying words to paper but sifting through the story to arrive at a “true” telling of events. If the story is a personal one, then there’s also the task of arriving at a true telling of your own character. It can be a painful, difficult process, and relies quite a bit on the ability to rewrite, edit, cut, and change. Continue reading Writing As Metamorphosis
I’ve been reading Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. One of the key Monday activities is gathering information from expert stakeholders whose perspective may influence the solution. The authors suggest encouraging these experts to provide a complete overview of their take on the problem to be solved, even urging them to “remind us about” to make sure they are comfortable covering familiar ground. The process reminded me of a line of psychological research about the “hidden profile” and how it influences group decision-making. Continue reading When I Don’t Know that You Don’t Know What I Know: Hidden Profiles and Expert Information
My sister works as a recruiter and HR manager for technology startups in Europe. She has a strong background working with some very successful American companies, so her advice is sought after in her new community. Recently she told me a story about an attempt to get her advice that backfired, and it made me think about the importance of framing a request for a favor in a way that supports autonomy. Continue reading How to Ask for Favors the Autonomy-Supporting Way
Social media is increasingly becoming an expected channel for companies to communicate with customers, users, and other stakeholders. I’d venture to say that it’s now more common for companies to be on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook than off. The goal, logically, is to engage with consumers, whether it’s by providing customer service, creating a brand image, or responding real-time to relevant events. Of course, a lot of companies do it badly, with far fewer doing it well. Continue reading A Brand I Can Relate To: Companies Creating Relationships on Social Media
I’m very interested in the concept of how much a person’s self-expression for an audience (whether it’s writing, performance, art, or something else) should be personal. I’ve certainly struggled with it on this blog, which I intended to be a professional project but is ultimately informed by my personal experiences and interests. I want this to reflect who I am (both personally and professionally) but definitely prefer to hold back highly personal information, especially since it would rarely advance my purpose which is to geek out about psychology, health, and happiness in everyday life.
Like many people, I dislike what can be nicely called “difficult conversations.” Whether it’s saying no to someone, confronting someone about a task left undone or done poorly, or raising a painful subject, difficult conversations are, well, difficult. A very natural reaction to them, and one I have far too often, is to simply avoid them altogether, or at least postpone them as long as possible. Continue reading The Upside of Difficult Conversations
I’ve never felt confident in my ability to create visually compelling presentations. I’m a words person with spatial confusion, which I believe is the exact recipe for boring slides. Add to that the fact that I’ve worked in big companies that tend toward information-packed slides with tiny fonts and lots of charts, and you can see why I’m semi-obsessed with collecting tips and best practices for better presentations. Here are some good ones: Continue reading Up Your Visual Impact: Tips to Improve Your Next Presentation
If you’re trying to build a strong and consistent reputation, then staying “on brand” is key. Projecting your values clearly through the way you behave, talk, and look helps other people associate you with those values. Over time, the brand you’ve built becomes part of your identity. As blogger Nancy Koehn says, quoting Gandhi, “My life is my message.” She explains that “the more transparent that the world gets, enabled largely by technology, the more important it is that you are what you appear to be. ” Basically, building a great brand is all about authenticity. Continue reading Well-Wishes and Engagemint Juleps: The On-Brand Holiday Greeting
A rule of thumb in developing content is to keep the reading level as low as possible for accessibility to the widest possible range of readers. This is challenging for writers; reading levels are typically calculated using algorithms like the Fry Method that account for word length and sentence complexity. Multi-syllable words and multi-part sentences lead to higher reading levels. As a writer, I lament the loss of elegant sentence structure and deliberate diction resulting from attempts to make content accessible to all readers. As a psychologist, I wonder if it’s always necessary given the shortcuts people use for information processing. Continue reading Designing Content for Low-Literacy Readers: Image, Form, Interest
One of the many ways that people around the world differ from one another is attitudes about choice. While some cultures believe that independent choice is the ideal, others prefer to delegate important choices to specific people or interpret events as a sign of fate or luck. In The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar suggests that cultural narratives around choice–whether it is good to have it or not, how much people want, and what one should do with it–can help promote understanding in others. She writes, Continue reading Choice: The Cultural Keystone?