The Praise Paradox: when well-​intended words backfire

Most people would agree: praise is one of the most effective ways to build children’s self-esteem. We are told to be generous with our praise, and to find as many opportunities as possible to praise children so they feel good, learn better, and perform well. It’s such common knowledge, we don’t even question it. But …

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Are you a taker, a giver, or a matcher?

Some people only help when it benefits themselves, others foster transactional relationships, while yet others are generous with their time and energy, without asking for anything in return. Whether in their personal or professional relationships, takers, givers, and matchers achieve different outcomes. Surprisingly, givers display the most radically distinctive results. Are you a taker, a …

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Semantic traps: why vague words are risky

In politics and linguistics, semantic traps are words so vague that we cannot give them specific meaning, or words that are systematically misleading. Semantic traps are often used to stir a debate in a certain direction, or to influence people’s judgement. A famous example is when Republican strategist Frank Luntz wrote a memo to George …

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The empathy gap: why we underestimate the influence of emotions

“I would do much better!” you think, watching someone give a presentation about a topic you are familiar with. “I don’t feel like smoking at all, I’ll definitely be able to quit tomorrow,” you say with a relaxed tone, right after smoking a cigarette. These are illustrations of the empathy gap: our tendency to underestimate …

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Constructive criticism: how to give and receive feedback

Whether in our personal or professional lives, we are constantly giving and receiving feedback. Some of the feedback is subtle, often unconscious, and some of it is proactive. Being able to receive and to offer constructive feedback is an essential skill in building meaningful social relationships.  In addition, research suggests that meaningful feedback is crucial …

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Thinking in maps: from the Lascaux caves to modern knowledge graphs

What do hieroglyphs, flowcharts, road signs, and knowledge graphs have in common? They’re all thinking maps. Humans have been thinking in maps since the very first symbolic communication systems. While thinking in maps may first bring to mind the idea of cartography, a map does not need to be geographic—it can be any symbolic depiction …

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How to build a support group

Support groups are a great way for people with common goals and experiences to provide each other with encouragement and advice. Usually limited in size to keep them intimate, they offer a safe space for like-minded people to connect, learn from each other, and grow together. While formal support groups may appear to be a …

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Sustainability over speed: adopting asynchronous communication

With more people working from home, asynchronous communication will become key to being productive while keeping our sanity. What are its benefits? What strategies can you use to embrace asynchronous communication at work? I have a confession to make. I think Slack is awful. It’s distracting, noisy, and makes it hard to get the information …

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Noterday: letting go of yesterday

“If your yesterday was much better than your today, then today you will most probably walk around in your yesterday.” Mehmet Murat ildan, Turkish playwright and novelist. I love playing with words. They’re living vessels of what it means to be human. Some words feel so natural we never stop to question their meaning. Take …

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Untranslatable words and your well-being

Sometimes, things get lost in translation. If you’ve seen the beautiful 2003 eponymous movie, you’ll know how powerful culture shock can be. It’s one of my favourite films, which is why my colleagues—when I was an intern at Google—gifted me a voucher to spend an evening at the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s cocktail bar, admire the …

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