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10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art

10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art

Art is a way of expressing beauty, emotions and feelings. It can help us make sense of the world we live in. Jerome Stolnitz argued that it cannot generate truth or knowledge, unlike science and math.

The ancient Greeks had great arguments about this. Plato thought that the literary arts were only useful in stirring our emotions and overindulgence might lead to a certain imbalance. Aristotle thought art was important in providing a certain emotional catharsis so that we could help ourselves to come to terms with tragic emotions. He saw it as being much more beneficial.

Let us look at 10 things that you can learn from art.

1. Art can help us to be creative

We might see a painting in a gallery or simply take a photo of a sunset. These are all expressions of art. They bring out the creativity in us. We may want to draw something or play around with different apps on our phone to turn a simple photo into something original and beautiful. You can play around with the bubbly effect, Monet impressionism, artsy spirals or adding words. Yes, there’s an app for those and many more!

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2. Music can lift you up

If you play an instrument, you have so many opportunities for expressing your mood. Even just playing around on the guitar can be therapeutic. You might choose to listen to rock, rap or a classical symphony. Studies show that listening to upbeat music really does affect your mood positively.

3. Writing as therapy

When I was a teen, I wanted to express some thoughts through poetry so I sent some poems to a publisher. Unfortunately, they were turned down. The rejection letter stated that “there would be little demand for this work on the general market.” My career as a poet ended there but I have continued to write articles, fiction and diaries all my life. Writing enabled me to express emotional trauma and other frustrations. It was a safety valve. Even if you never write a story or poem, writing down your thoughts and feelings is great therapy.

4. A painting can stimulate curiosity

Let us look at the painting, At the Moulin Rouge (1892/5) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It can stimulate a curiosity about night life in 19th century Paris, the social mores in vogue at the time, fashion, the life of Toulouse-Lautrec and his difficulties caused by his unusually short stature. The more we find out, the more we want to read and discover what life in Paris was like at the time.

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    5. Any work of art will help us appreciate beauty

    It may be a sculpture, a painting, a sunset, a poem, a story. Whatever it is, we should try and think about it because there is beauty here. We can lose our emotional baggage and get lost in the contemplation and wonder of that beauty.

    6. 100 things you must do before you die

    You know the series. There are films, places to see, things to eat, books to read, museums to visit. The list is seemingly endless and we have a lot to get through. The idea is a great one because it constantly reminds us about the gaps in our knowledge and culture. It is a great way to create neural connections in our brain and keep our minds alert. It is also a wonderful way of increasing our awareness of the beauty around us.

    7. Exploring and seeking answers

    Far too often in life, there are many problems that can have more than one solution. It is the artistic experience that teaches you to explore your emotions and use your judgement. These points are beautifully summed up in the poster written for schools by Stanford Professor Elliot Eisner. He firmly believed that art education was one of the essential keys to student learning. The poster is entitled 10 Lessons the Arts Teach.

    8. Art can help us to be better people

    Can you resonate with somebody going through a pleasurable or traumatic experience? If you can, you may have learned how to empathize. When you were a child, you started to learn these things through stories, games, music, poetry, and so on. It is these experiences that move and transform us from an early age. We are learning how to reach out to our fellow human beings. Science and math can never teach that!

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    9. Art can make you happier

    The British philosopher Alain de Botton has very definite views on how art is displayed in galleries and museums around the world. His book, Art as Therapy is a joy to read.

    De Botton protests that there is far too much emphasis placed on biographical and technical details on the picture label. There should be much more emphasis on how the painting makes us feel and why it creates happiness, contentment, and peace. Monet’s Fruit Trees is a perfect example. Now, how many museum catalogues talk about these feelings and emotions? Not one, I guess.

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      10. Art can help you to express your individuality

      All we have to do is look at the street artists who can express a universal language by being totally unconventional, rebellious and risqué.

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      If your desire for creativity is not up to going out at night on a dangerous street art mission, there are other ways to express your individuality. The best of all is cooking. You can explore different tastes and textures with food. It can become a very personal thing. No surprise that people now ask, “What is your signature dish?”

      It is fascinating to observe how food and art have been intertwined through the ages. In early and medieval times, eating and paintings of food were crude to say the least. Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian and he was hoping that cooking would become more inventive by replacing the ubiquitous meat dishes.

      As you slave over that hot stove, just think that cooking is one of the first art forms human beings invented.

      “Cookery is naturally the most ancient of the arts, as of all arts it is the most important.” – George Ellwanger

      Featured photo credit: art/telmo32 via flickr.com

      More by this author

      Robert Locke

      Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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      1 Why Am I So Sad? 9 Possible Causes You Shouldn’t Ignore 2 How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace 3 10 Things That Even You Can Do to Change the World 4 5 Ways to Get Out of a Bad Mood (Backed by Psychology) 5 How a Gratitude Journal Can Drastically Change Your Life

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      Last Updated on December 4, 2020

      How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

      How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

      We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

      However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

      Let’s take a closer look.

      Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

      A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

      Builds Workers’ Skills

      Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

      Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

      Boosts Employee Loyalty

      Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

      If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

      Strengthens Team Bonds

      Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

      However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

      Promotes Mentorship

      There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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      Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

      Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

      How to Give Constructive Feedback

      Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

      Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

      1. Listen First

      Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

      Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

      You could say:

      • “Help me understand your thought process.”
      • “What led you to take that step?”
      • “What’s your perspective?”

      2. Lead With a Compliment

      In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

      You could say:

      • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
      • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

      3. Address the Wider Team

      Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

      You could say:

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      • “Let’s think through this together.”
      • “I want everyone to see . . .”

      4. Ask How You Can Help

      When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

      You could say:

      • “What can I do to support you?”
      • “How can I make your life easier?
      • “Is there something I could do better?”

      5. Give Examples

      To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

      What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

      You could say:

      • “I wanted to show you . . .”
      • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
      • “This is a perfect example.”
      • “My ideal is . . .”

      6. Be Empathetic

      Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

      You could say:

      • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
      • “I understand.”
      • “I’m sorry.”

      7. Smile

      Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

      8. Be Grateful

      When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

      You could say:

      • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
      • “We all learned an important lesson.”
      • “I love improving as a team.”

      9. Avoid Accusations

      Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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      You could say:

      • “We all make mistakes.”
      • “I know you did your best.”
      • “I don’t hold it against you.”

      10. Take Responsibility

      More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

      Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

      You could say:

      • “I should have . . .”
      • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

      11. Time it Right

      Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

      If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

      12. Use Their Name

      When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

      You could say:

      • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
      • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

      13. Suggest, Don’t Order

      When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

      You could say:

      • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
      • “Try it this way.”
      • “Are you on board with that?”

      14. Be Brief

      Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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      One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

      15. Follow Up

      Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

      You could say:

      • “I wanted to recap . . .”
      • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
      • “Did that make sense?”

      16. Expect Improvement

      Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

      By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

      You could say:

      • “I’d like to see you . . .”
      • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
      • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
      • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

      17. Give Second Chances

      Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

      You could say:

      • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
      • “I’d love to see you try again.”
      • “Let’s give it another go.”

      Final Thoughts

      Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

      More on Constructive Feedback

      Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

      Reference

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