The right word in the right place at the right time

 

Well, what I mean is, like, you know, when the stuff comes out nice, everyone thinks it’s cool. 

However, when you don’t have the right word to express yourself, you’ve lost an opportunity to communicate, irrespective of whether everybody thought it cool, uncool or otherwise. 

Vocabulary helps you make a point crisply and accurately. It has been acknowledged as a desirable competency for a while – you’ll find all manner of competitive exams demanding to assess your vocabulary level, and many people memorizing endless word lists in an attempt to widen their vocabulary. 

Our observations on vocabulary building (seems to work for any language): 

  • Don’t see words in isolation. Understand how they are used and what roots they come from – helps establish patterns.
  • Keep it personal. Pick topics and words that make sense to your life and start from there.
  • Read. Read. Read. Anything will do - even film posters and leaflets.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen. The TV, other speakers, audio books, songs…
  • Make your own sentences. The old primary school exercise is perfect to get going with using words on your own.

If you’d like to read more:

Provoked to be creative!

When you hear the word creative, what picture comes to your mind? An artistic type – someone who draws, paints and dabbles in art? Or the eccentric type – someone who’s brilliant, slightly disheveled, unpredictable, and wild-eyed? Or is it something else? 

Creativity deserves a broader definition. Firstly, creativity is about new ideas or the use of older ideas in newer ways. Second, it’s an important part of everyday life, whether you are solving a problem at work, cooking a meal, fixing a broken shoe, or creating 5 extra minutes in your hectic morning schedule. The wiki article lays out the scope quite well

People per se can’t be labeled “creative” or otherwise. Being Creative is a, well, state of being! Some people are in that state more often than others, and almost all of us are creative at least once a year! Also see these nice mind maps outlining what blocks creativity and what supports creativity.

We’re often asked if creativity can be learned, and the answer seems to be yes. True, it’s not something you can pick up by reading a book or listening to someone explaining how it works. However, one’s capability to remain creative can be enhanced by doing some kinds of exercises and practising some kinds of thinking / being. Brainstorming is a popular method. “Provocation” is another. When we use it with children we’ve seen some really great responses, some really interesting ideas and a great deal of learning happening.

How to practice Provocation:

Begin by making a deliberately shocking statement (Provocations), where ideas that are normally taken for granted have been discarded.  For example, we could say ‘Children should not have an education’. On the face of it, it’s not a good idea. It may even be difficult to contemplate. However it might lead us to think about what we mean by education, and what its alternatives might be.

Once you have a provocative statement, suspend judgment and generate ideas. Provocations usually give good starting points for creative thinking. You could think in terms of:

 

  • What could be the consequences of the statement?
  • What could be the benefits?
  • Are there any circumstances under which it might be a sensible solution?
  • If this had to work, what underlying priniciples are required? 
  • How it would work moment-to-moment?
  • What would happen if a sequence of events was changed?
  • Etc.

 

You can use this list as a check list. The ideas generated may not always be relevant, but it often open up new ways of thinking, which in turn leads to new solutions. Read more about provocation.

Conversations: The art of listening, sharing and learning

Conversation works best when everyone is participating, listening, talking, having disagreements, asking questions, making discoveries, cutting jokes… And being silent when appropriate. This combination of things makes conversations the great learning tool they are. 

It would seem that conversations would come naturally to social creatures such as ourselves. But apparently not. Many conversations are one sided monologues. Many more degenerate into observations about the weather or traffic and never take off from there. Or they are long silences with all the people having frantic internal conversations inside their heads, but not saying anything aloud to each other!

People agonize about not being “good at conversations”. They look for solutions in speaking skills courses, vocabulary building exercises, learning body language cues, or even mugging up starter lines and jokes. All of them good ideas … but only when you have some other basics in place:

  • Listen
  • Ask questions
  • Clarify what you heard or understood
  • Think what might interest the other person
  • Disagree if you must… 
We found a really well-written piece on the art of conversations. (Complete with one minute video full of conversation tips, dos and don’ts). What we liked best about this piece was that it focuses on the basics – the real basics – of a good conversation.