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How You Can Be Intelligent Instead of Sounding Smart When Writing


Do you spend a lot of time trying to sound smarter than you really are?

The art of writing is a lot like the art of refereeing. You know it’s good when it goes unnoticed. Unfortunately, many professionals today are spending more time trying to figure out how to sound smart instead of working on being intelligent.

Whether you’re writing a blog post, a grant letter, or a basic email, your goal should be to drive an outcome with every word offered. There must be a purpose to what is being written that goes beyond trying to establish a better reputation.

I know that I’ve really struggled with this in the past. I used to think that if I sounded smart, then those who read my content would feel that I was intelligent. That would make everyone want to read more of what I had. Now I work on checking these things before posting or sending anything.

#1. Eliminate jargon or unusual words. I love strange words in the English language. It used to be fun for me to talk about my lamprophony within my content. Using words that people have to use a Google search to figure out is a fast way to drive them away from what you’ve written. The goal of writing isn’t just to communicate. It must also establish a relationship.

#2. Use your words correctly. Buzzwords are fine when they’re used properly. The only problem is that you don’t sound intelligent or smart if you use those buzzwords incorrectly. My biggest pet peeve is the use of “empathetic” and “empathic.” If you’re empathetic, then you are able to share another person’s feelings. Empathic can mean the same thing, but it is only supposed to be used in non-scientific writing.

So in this instance, where we’re discussing how to write better, we would actually say that an individual is an empathic listener. If we were talking about a research study about listening, then they would be an empathetic listener.

Or we could just describe someone as a good listener who can sense the feelings of others and avoid misuse altogether.

#3. Include bullet points when they make sense. Bullet points can really help a bit of content stand out. The structure naturally draws the reader to the key points you’re trying to make. The only problem is that when the bullet points don’t flow together well, the reader becomes disengaged from the content. Each bullet point must have the same form of grammar in order for it to be effective.

#4. Stay out of the passive voice whenever possible. “I will write this content today.” That’s active voice. “This content will be completed by the end of the day by me.” That’s passive voice. Active writing creates confidence. It inspires accountability. That’s not to say that passive voice is bad. It’s just a way to offer yourself a method of escape as a writer if someone happens to disagree with what you’ve written.

Being intelligent with your writing means that you are writing for your reader. Sounding smart with your writing means that you’re writing for yourself. So think about what the reader needs, provide that, and your writing will improve.

How do you avoid the traps of sounding smart when you write? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.

Methods to Keep Yourself Calm While Competing

The butterflies are almost always the worst.

I know they’re about to start fluttering when a shot of adrenaline surges through my body. My muscles feel kind of weak, even with the extra energy. I don’t get sweaty palms, but the back of my neck flushes hot.

It’s more than nervousness or a fear of failure. It is the need to be my very best.

Although how we feel during a competition is different for every person, there are similarities that each of us will experience. The stomach churning, fear-producing, unfocused mind can conjure up a lot of scenarios where failure becomes the only possible result. When you know these methods to help keep yourself calm while competing, it becomes easier to make the most out of these moments.

#1. Stick to a routine. Although being on complete autopilot isn’t beneficial, forcing yourself to think about every single task you need to finish before starting a competition is also not helpful. I’ve found that by embracing how I think and feel when I’m at my best, I can focus on the routine tasks with enough attention to complete them without losing my focus on the end goal.

#2. Let it go. When it is time to start competing, the focus tends to shift from the actual competition to the variable influences which might affect it. Racers might worry about the weather, their diet, or what it might mean to fail. To avoid this, I place visual cues that emphasize the importance of the competition so I can stay focused on the process I need to follow instead of what is going on around me.

#3. Picture what it means to succeed. When I was in high school, our basketball team once lost 40 straight games. One of my friends was on that team and he just didn’t care. “We never win. So I don’t bother to try.” That attitude went into the practices, the efforts during the game, and sometimes even how those on the team interacted with others. They were picturing themselves failing.

It’s not always easy to visualize success. I look at what I want to accomplish and then picture that moment. I want to know how I’ll feel so that I can strive toward that feeling with my daily actions. It doesn’t mean I’ll get there, but if one practices for success, they are much more likely to achieve it.

#4. Cope with the worries. Do you have people come up to you randomly while you run errands? It happens to me all the time. That kind of interaction triggers my stress alarms. I worry about who I might run into during the day and what they might say to me. During a competition, this anxiety gets heightened by 1000%. When you know your triggers and how your body reacts to them, then you can begin to cope with them.

I prefer deep breathing exercises and meditation. Anything that lets you examine the emotions, however, will be beneficial.

#5. Plan for the worst-case scenario. When you are competing, what is the worst thing that could happen to you? Picture it. Then plan what you’ll do if it happens. Chances are that it will not, but when you expect the unexpected, you’re able to keep pushing forward.

Staying calm isn’t always easy while competing, but it is possible. Apply these methods to your next efforts to see if they can help you cross the finish line.

How do you handle competition? What strategies help you to stay calm?

How Mindfulness Can Rejuvenate Your Career


Everyone has a bad day or two. But maybe you’re stuck in a bad month or two. Or maybe it’s been a year or two. These things happen.

Mindfulness isn’t a magic pill you can take to fix everything. It is a form of meditation that can help you gain more control over your thinking. This is important for those times when you’re stuck in a rut because thinking leads to feelings. Feelings lead to choices. Choices lead to actions.

If you try to stop a poor action by making a different choice, but do not address the thinking and feeling behind the choice in the first place, then your odds of success will be quite low. Mindfulness can be used to address those thoughts and feelings so that your career choices can be better.

This is why mindfulness can make a bad day better. It can even rejuvenate your entire career.

Why Is Mindfulness So Popular in Today’s Workplace?

There are many reasons why mindfulness meditation has become popular in today’s workplace, but the top reason is that it provides a retreat for the busy professional. By scheduling in time for mindfulness, you’re really scheduling time for yourself.

When was the last time you had 30 minutes without an interruption? Without your phone, tablet, or TV? Where you could just sit in silence and not need to worry about what is next on your schedule?

It doesn’t happen often. Since almost 3 of every 4 dollars in the US is spent on stress-related expenses, it needs to happen more. We’re literally working ourselves to death. That’s why mindfulness is being embraced by many companies in the Fortune 100 today.

It’s not about making people more productive. It’s about saving people so they can actually have a career.

How Come Thoughts and Feelings Need to Be Addressed?

We could talk about how mindfulness improves your focus or boost your creativity, but the real benefit comes with an improvement in your emotional intelligence. This is how you manage your behavior, both personally and with others. When you know how you are thinking and feeling, then you can make a better choice to take a more effective action.

If you didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, you probably reach for the coffee pot first, right? Or maybe it is an energy drink. I tend to crave waffles in these circumstances. Our choices are not the same as they would be with 7-8 hours of sleep because our thought patterns are affected by fatigue.

The same principle is found in the modern workplace. People are fatigued at work. They feel burned-out.

What mindfulness meditation is able to do is help you and I be able to recognize this fatigue, identify problematic thoughts that may be generated because of being tired, and then stop those thoughts from becoming feelings that we all act upon.

I’ve found that mindfulness has helped me get through the toughest days at work because it gives me a better perspective of life. Work is important, but so are the personal moments with family and friends.

Have you tried mindfulness meditation to deal with the stress in your career? Has it helped you be able to save your job? Your career? I’d love to hear your story!

Facial Expressions: The Ultimate Negotiation Tool


I know we’d like to think a logical thought process goes into most negotiations, but the fact is that emotions play an influential role in them. If you know what your counterpart is thinking and feeling, then you will have an upper hand during the negotiation process.

Experienced negotiators know this, so they’ve taught themselves how to mask their feelings. They control their body language, words, and tone of voice very effectively. Yet there is one place I’ve noticed where even the best negotiators aren’t always in full control: with their facial expressions.

The Secret Is Reading a Person’s Micro-Expressions

As much as we’d like to think we are in full control of ourselves, sometimes there are emotional moments that escape – even just for a second or two. These moments appear within the context of our facial expression.

We all can recognize common emotions when we see them in people’s faces. During a negotiation, you might see a flash of anger or disgust. That tells you it is time to shift gears. You might see fear or surprise – that’s a moment to leverage your position. If you see happiness, then you know you’ve struck gold.

And if you see contempt – that “fake” smile – then you’re in trouble.

The time it takes for an experienced negotiator to recognize an emotion and control it on their face can be as little as 1/25 of a second. Yet if you can catch that flash of emotion, you can be in control of the ultimate negotiation tool.

Here’s How You Can Use This to Your Advantage

When I discovered this negotiation trick, it became my top priority to discover how I could leverage this information to my advantage. It’s not always easy to read a person’s facial expressions, but here’s what I’ve discovered can be successful.

#1. Stay focused on the face. Look your counterpart in the eye. Make them feel a little uncomfortable. Far too often, we watch a person’s mouth instead of their eyes.

#2. Tell your story. If you’re telling a personal story, the emotions your face will show are going to be based on how you feel about those memories. It can be an effective masking technique. Make sure you’re watching your counterpart’s face if they are telling their own story to catch any slip-ups.

#3. Ask about multiple options. You can catch micro-expressions whenever multiple options are presented to you. This will show you which option your counterpart wants you to take, the one they hope you won’t take, and the ones they couldn’t care less about.

There will always be those who can negotiate without letting anything slip. Most people, however, will offer you a clue or two about how they are thinking and feeling if you pay attention to their facial expressions. Their micro-expressions can be what leads you to a great deal.

What have you discovered to be helpful during the negotiation process? Have you tried to read micro-expressions before? Let me know what happened and what you learned from the process. 

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