Advertising
Advertising

5 Creative Writing Lessons That You Can Use In Your Business

5 Creative Writing Lessons That You Can Use In Your Business

Communication is important in business. You might think creative writing is an airy-fairy subject that bears no relevance to your business activity, but I’m here to show you otherwise.

Recently, I was reflecting on some of the most reinforced lessons that I was given during my undergraduate creative writing degree. Despite now being a business owner and non-fiction writer, several of those lessons remain valuable. Here are my top five:

1. Show, don’t tell

This is the first lesson any creative writer learns. Paint a picture with your words, don’t use them to force a message down your reader’s throat. Similarly, show your customers the benefit of your service, don’t just tell them about it in an impersonal, dogmatic manner.

Advertising

This lesson could, perhaps, be adapted to say “sell, don’t tell”. Words for word’s sake will get you nowhere. You need to show your business in its best light and then sell it to your prospects. Keep your message short, simple and relevant.

2. You need round characters and flat characters

When creating a story, you need a range of characters. ‘Round’ characters are full of details and tend to be the key people in any story. ‘Flat’ characters are the people in the background, who we all relate to and don’t feel the need to explore deeply or understand fully.

Similarly, your business needs a mix of inspiring new information and comfortable, relatable ideas. People need to feel they can relate to and connect with your message. By all means, wow them with your innovation but remember that you also need to provide a comfortable bridge for them to level with you.

Advertising

3. Find details that ‘tell more’

Details with deeper, hidden meanings are part of the standard creative writing toolkit. Objects, images, descriptions…what further information might they hold, what stories might they tell? You can use this idea to better understand your customers, too.

What characteristics, behaviors or traits do your customers have that can tell you more about them? Perhaps you have a group of customers who love all things organic – what else might this say about their lifestyle? What cars do your customers drive, where do they ‘hangout’ online? These details can all reveal something more.

4. Avoid clichés like the plague

Clichés are great. They do the job of instantly explaining relatable truisms. However, they’re relatable for a reason – they are highly overused. While a cliché might seem like the simplest way of getting your message across, bear in mind that they are also unoriginal. Familiarity is important, as is simplicity, but phrases that make your clients roll their eyes is not the way to go.

Advertising

Clichés exist not only as phrases but as actions, too. If any aspect of your business activity feels tired and “uninventive,” rework it. Even if you do think the customer is always right, the grass is greener on the other side or that the apple never falls far from the tree, find a different way to show it.

5. Be wary of your internal editor

When staring at a blank screen or new project your internal editor can give you perfection paralysis. If you start censoring, judging and editing before you’ve given the ideas a chance to evolve, you’ll crush your creativity. Instead, work on getting everything out there and giving yourself permission to explore your ideas. Don’t stop after every step to examine your footprint: finish the journey first and then go back and retrace your steps.

Be careful, too, of any negative thoughts that your internal editor is bringing up. Constructive criticism is important but self defeating thoughts and pointless negativity will damage your confidence and the quality of your work.

Advertising

What other unexpected lessons do you find helpful in your business? Take some time to think back over the years of learning you have done and see if there is anything that could cross over into your business life.

More by this author

Improve Your Self Esteem in 5 Steps 15 Inspirational Quotes From Female Pioneers Who Have Made History 5 Creative Writing Lessons That You Can Use In Your Business 5 Women Entrepreneurs Who Will Change The Way You Think About Work 10 Things You Cared about Growing up 10 Years Ago but Don’t Now

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

Advertising

1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

Advertising

3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

Advertising

It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

Advertising

Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next