Gratitude traps: why we should be critical of gratefulness

Gratitude is an efficient way to increase the appreciation we have for the things that we could otherwise take for granted. Practising gratitude might make us feel more thankful for the circumstances we find ourselves in, such as where we live, the work we do, the people we have in our lives, and the gifts …

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Living and working outside your inbox with the co-founder of Mailman

Welcome to this edition of our Tools for Thought series, where we interview founders on a mission to help us be more productive without sacrificing our mental health. Mohit Mamoria is the founder and CEO of Mailman, a plugin that allows you to decide when and what emails should land in your inbox. In a …

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How to manage “Can I pick your brain?” requests

You open your inbox, see an email from someone unfamiliar, read it, and see the dreaded “Can I pick pick your brain?” request. No context, no offer to compensate you for your time, just this vague demand to extract value from you without contributing anything in return. What are some ways you can reply to …

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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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