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The 6 Simplest Ways to Generate Great Ideas

The 6 Simplest Ways to Generate Great Ideas

Want to generate great ideas? You can. Ideas come to us every day, many more than we could ever use. We dismiss most of them, without making an effort to record them. This is unfortunate. We may dismiss an idea which would change the world.

Decide now, that you’ll give your ideas – all of them, no matter how wacky they appear on the surface – the respect they deserve. You’re a complete original. There’s never been anyone like you, and there never will be again. Decide that you’ll generate ideas daily, and that you’ll act on at least one idea a week.

Let’s look at some simple ways to generate great ideas.

1. Generate ten ideas every day.

The simplest, and yet the best way to generate great ideas is to generate LOTS of ideas. Out of quantity comes quality.

Pick a topic each day. Then, generate ten ideas on that topic, off the top of your head. Don’t think about it too much. Just make a list from one to ten, then jot down your ideas. Keep all your ideas. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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We’re all creative. Sadly, mostly we ignore our creative intuitions. When you set out to deliberately generate a flow of ideas each day, you’ll strengthen your idea-generation muscles.

2. Read more. Skim books.

Use Amazon and its “Look Inside” technology to keep up with new thinking in your field. Skim most books, but download and read important books. Over time, you’ll become a thought leader in your field. Reading is vital to idea generation.

Vital: make notes on the books you read. If you read books on your ereader, highlight passages and add your own notes. You can find all your highlights and notes on your Amazon Kindle pages – click Your Highlights at the top of the page.

Visit your local library too, and browse books there.

The more ideas you’re aware of, the more you can combine ideas to create breakthrough ideas.

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3. Draw your ideas to restructure them.

Can’t draw? That’s OK. Symbols and stick figures work well.

This article Hand-Sketching: Things You Didn’t Know Your Doodles Could Accomplish encourages hand-sketching to externalize your ideas.

The article reports:

Restructuring transforms one configuration into another, and in scientific studies, advanced hand-sketchers score highest at restructuring when they are allowed to sketch. In an experiment by Verstijnen, sketchers were shown to be better than non-sketchers at modifying their initial ideas and coming up with novel changes.

Try it. Many creative people doodle, often without realizing that they’re doing it. You can doodle deliberately to generate fresh ideas from combinations of ideas.

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4. Distance yourself psychologically to generate better ideas.

An article in Scientific American on an easy way to increase creativity recommends inducing psychological distance, to be able to think more abstractly:

An abstract representation, on the other hand, might refer to the corn plant as a source of energy or as a fast growing plant. These more abstract thoughts might lead us to contemplate other, less common uses for corn, such as a source for ethanol, or to use the plant to create mazes for children.

The article reports that studies “suggest that even minimal cues of psychological distance can make us more creative.”

Imagine the topic for which you’re generating ideas to be geographically further away from you. This is easy to do. Think of a topic: for example, how to get your boss to give you a raise. Now imagine your boss on the other side of the globe, and generate a list of ten ideas.

It’s easy to test whether psychological distance helps you to come up with great ideas.

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5. Become more social.

When you meet and chat with new people, whether online or offline, you’re exposed to new ways of thinking. You’re also able to restructure and reframe your own experiences. You may find that when you describe a current challenge to someone who doesn’t know you well, you come up with some great ideas for solutions.

6. Break your patterns.

You’ve established patterns of behavior and thought over time. Deliberately start to change those patterns.

Think about a current challenge you have. Let’s say you want some capital to invest in a friend’s new venture. You don’t have any money. Formerly, you might have shrugged this off, deciding to forget this opportunity.

You write down: “capital to invest.” You list ten ways of finding investment funds, finally deciding that you’ll set up a Kickstarter campaign. Your contribution to your friend’s venture will be the time and energy you put into crowd-funding.

Breaking old patterns is hard, but not impossible. Whenever you think “no,” describe the problem or opportunity. Writing things down, and coming up with ideas ensures that you will, sooner or later, come up with great ideas.

Try these six simple ways to generate great ideas. One method is sure to work for you. Start generating ideas today.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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]

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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

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