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10 Ways To Let The Bud Of Creativity Blossom In Your Mind

10 Ways To Let The Bud Of Creativity Blossom In Your Mind

Creativity in contemporary culture has been cast up on a pedestal as an illusive pursuit meant only for “creative types”. Creativity requires our brains to make new connections between previously unconnected ideas and nearly everyone is born with this capability. How many truly uncreative children have you encountered? Probably not many (if any!) So the assertion that you’re simply not “the creative type” doesn’t make sense at all. You are! It’s just that your creative capacity has been struggling to breathe and grow in the vacuum that it’s been placed into.

Your creativity might seem shriveled and dry now, but here are ten specific ways to breathe new life into your creative self.

1. Embarrass yourself.

The fear of embarrassment or shame is what keeps people from being creative. You have to be willing to make a mistake, fail and look silly. In college I took an actin class that was very physical (pretending to be monkeys and things like that). At first I was so embarrassed that I would be sweaty and gross if I committed to the physicality of the exercises, but only when I decided the embarrassment was worth the creative gain did I really reach a new level of skill and freedom.

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2. Write by hand. A lot.

In a culture that is continually moving more toward the digital, it is not hard to go a whole day without writing anything down by hand. Heck! I make my grocery lists on my phone these days. But scientists have clearly proven that there is a strong connection between writing by hand and retaining information and generating ideas. The simple practice of slowly committing your hand to writing down your thoughts will over time foster new ideas that allow you to be more creative.

3. Pick a new hobby.

Learn to knit. Take piano lessons. Try your hand at water colors. Picking something that you’re unfamiliar with and struggling to learn a new skill helps to create healthy new pathways in your brain. The act of learning a low commitment creative act will breed confidence if your inner creative-self.

4. Play with a child.

The next time you get the opportunity to engage with a young child, really do it. Don’t halfheartedly race cars with your nephew, but learn from him! If he wants to play doctor commit to your role as a wounded sailor. Taking play seriously. Children have no inner sensor that keeps them from breaching social norms, and they create with more abandon than most adults. Learn from the creative abandon of the children in your life.

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5. Schedule it.

It may seem counter intuitive, to put ‘creative time’ on your weekly calendar, but it is unrealistic to assume that you will suddenly be able to channel creativity all day every day. By designating a specific time every week (or several times a week!) to be creative you are helping yourself follow through and be intentional about your creative endeavors. Plus, marking it on the calendar will make you more likely to actually do the deed!

6. Keep a notebook with you.

Keep a notebook handy with you at all times to encourage yourself to capture those unpredictable creative thoughts. Write down ideas, funny quotes, doodles and sketches. Make this notebook a judgement free place where you can hold all of those little creative glimpses that shimmer through our days.

7. Take yourself on a date.

Julia Cameron, author of the book The Artist’s Way stresses the importance of taking your inner-artist on a date. Take your creative self somewhere that will feed your creativity. Go to a museum! Go to a play! Take a coloring book and go to a local coffee shop! There are countless ways to take yourself on an artists date.

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8. Move your body.

Get up from the computer screen, turn off the t.v., leave your sketch book at home and work up some sweat. Go for a brisk 20 minute walk. Turn your music up loud and dance it out. Moving your body will help to break up the monotony of your day and the monotony of your thought processes. Regular exercise will lead to a more creative life.

9. Make lists.

List making might seem like an entirely uncreative act, but making lists will actually trigger unconscious connections and help you to generate new ideas. I’m not talking about a grocery list, but lists of ideas, memories, likes or dislikes. Creating a massive like of things you love will not only help you be more creative but it will help you learn about yourself as you see patterns arise in the things you write down.

10. Let yourself be bored.

I run from boredom like the plague. Any lull in my day I whip out my phone and scroll various social media outlets to keep my brain from sensing even a whiff of boredom. But if we let ourselves be bored we are giving our minds space to daydream. As they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so if your mind is not being constantly filled with outside stimulus it will be forced to create it’s own stimulus.

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Don’t run from your creative self because of fear. Everyone is insecure. Just lug your insecurity along with you and allow yourself to be vulnerable anyway. Engaging in these ten things will help you explore your creative self and grow in your creativity.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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