5 Habits of Truly Amazing Communcators

By Lea McLeod, M.A.



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When it comes to job coaching, almost every conversation I have with a client involves the topic of communication. The motives can vary widely: Some people want to be more assertive, others need help with conflict management, and still others find it hard to speak their minds in a group setting.

As I reflect on all the conversations I have, I realize that most of the time, we’re not talking about complex ideas. It’s really the basics about workplace communication that seem to trip most people up.

So, since we could all use a good reminder, here are the top five things I help my clients with when it comes to communication. Identify the ones that you need to work on, and start moving them into your conversation skill set today.

1. Stop Saying “But” and Start Saying “And”

Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, “I love that idea, but we need to do it differently?”

As soon as you say the word “but,” the other person immediately forgets the part about you loving the idea. Because you completely invalidated it with the “but” and everything that came after it.

Instead, use “and:” “I love that idea, and I think a slightly different approach would be most effective.”

Hear the difference?

In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey breaks down the rules of improv. One of those rules is to always say “yes, and….” This shows respect for what your partner has to say (even if you don’t agree), helps you keep an open mind about the act, and invites you to contribute to the conversation by building on the other person’s idea or adding your own ideas. Same goes for communicating at work.

2. Stick With the Facts

Often, I’ll hear someone make a statement that most likely isn’t rooted in fact—like, “She’s out to get me,” “My boss hates me,” or “I know she’s sorry she hired me.”

I always respond with a few questions: “Is that a fact? Did she tell you that, or are you drawing a conclusion based on observations?”

Communicating effectively is difficult enough; don’t add to it by making up stories that aren’t based in reality. Good communicators stay rooted in facts.

Remember that the facts of any issue could be quite different from your perception of it. Maybe the way you see a situation has to do with your unique work style, or simply that your boss is totally stressed out and taking it out on you. No matter what, unless you have the facts, it’s best to refrain from color commentary and focus on getting to the root of the issue.

3. Avoid “Position Defending”

When people cite communication issues in the workplace, it’s often less about communication and more about defending their position.

For example, let’s say that two co-workers, Megan and Jason, are discussing a project. Megan says, “This project is overwhelming the team; we need more help.” Jason says, “We’ll be able to handle it. Everyone will just have to put in some extra hours.”

Instead of having a meaningful dialogue about what defines each of their observations, Megan gets frustrated because Jason “isn’t hearing her.” And Jason thinks Megan sounds like a broken record, going on about how overwhelmed she is.

That’s not communication. That’s position defending.

Great communicators, on the other hand, ask questions and strive to understand all sides of the issue—instead of constantly repeating their side of the story.

For example, Jason might say, “What parts of the project are overwhelming to you?” or, “Tell me more about what you’re seeing as the bottlenecks.”

And Megan might say, “It sounds like we have completely different views on the project. I’m wondering if additional hours will really solve the problems I see,” or “Should we review the scope of the project and make sure the additional hours are realistic for the resources we have?”

Do you see how simply exploring others’ ideas can help you rise above your frustration and get you to higher ground?

In the iconic tome The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey espoused, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We should all be willing to understand the other as much as we want our own point of view to be understood.

4. Use Silence as Strategically as You Use Words

Many conversations become unproductive because the participants are too busy worrying about what to say next to really listen to each other. To remedy this, strive to take advantage of moments of silence.

While you may think that silence is negative or uncomfortable, it serves conversation by allowing listeners time to process what’s been said and giving speakers time to organize their thoughts before responding—without feeling rushed.

So, the next time you’re in a dialogue and it deserves your full attention, find an opportunity to practice silence. Spend a few extra moments absorbing what’s been said and intentionally thinking through your response before you speak. Learn to value and leverage those moments of silence instead of fearing them—as a way to build a better dialogue.

5. Actively Engage the Other Point of View

When a U.S. college student recently returned from an internship with a major hotel chain in the U.K., I asked him what the most challenging part was.

He responded that he was surprised by the tremendous diversity in the workplace in the U.K. Every person seemed to have come from a different country and spoke with a different dialect.

The biggest challenge, he said, was communicating with his co-workers in a way in which they could truly understand him. To do that, he had to get a sense of where they came from, how well they spoke English, and their assigned job. And typically, that was different for each and every person.

What a great example of high performance communication!

For people to really hear you—and you to hear them—you need to understand that everyone carries filters, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and cultural influences that shape their point of view. The most difficult part? You can’t physically see any of these things.

In short, just because you say something, it doesn’t mean that others hear you. Great communicators take time to understand where others are coming from, whether it’s influenced by cultural, professional, or personal factors. Once you understand those differences, you can communicate in a way that enhances your ability to be heard.
Great communicators may be born—but (er, and) they’re also made. Try using at least one of these strategies this week, and see how you can up your communication effectiveness. Your colleagues will notice, and you’ll find new confidence and level of satisfaction in your work.

PARADOXES THAT ARE TRUE

 

By: Mark Manson

Some of the most important truths in life are contradictory on the surface. They seem like impossibilities, yet experience proves them to be obvious over and over again. It isn’t until you look a bit deeper, beneath the surface contradictions, that the real grains of wisdom emerge.

Below are 20 paradoxes I’ve come across which are, paradoxically, still true:

1. The more you hate a trait in someone else, the more likely you are avoiding it in yourself. Carl Jung believed that characteristics in others that bother us are reflections of the parts of ourselves that we deny. Freud referred to it as “projection.” Most people call it “being an asshole.” For example, the woman who is insecure about her weight will call everyone else fat. The man who’s insecure about his money will criticize others for theirs.

2. People who can’t trust, can’t be trusted. People who are chronically insecure in their relationships are more likely to sabotage them. Call it the Good Will Hunting syndrome, but one way people protect themselves from getting hurt is by hurting others first.

3. The more you try to impress people, the less impressed they’ll be. Nobody likes a try-hard.

4. The more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed. Insert inspirational famous person quote here. You’ve probably heard many of them. Edison tried over 10,000 prototypes before getting the lightbulb right. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school team. Success comes from improvement and improvement comes from failure. There’s no shortcut around it.

5. The more something scares you, the more you should probably do it. With the exception of genuinely life-threatening or physically harmful activities, our fight-or-flight response kicks in when we’re confronted with past traumas or actualizing the self we dream of being. For instance: speaking to an attractive person, cold-calling someone to get a new job, public speaking, starting a business, saying something controversial, being painfully honest with somebody, etc., etc. These are all things that make you scared, and they make you scared because they are things that should be done.

6. The more afraid you are of death, the less you’ll be able to enjoy life. Or as one of my favorite quotes puts it, “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

7. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. The old Socrates adage. Every time you gain a greater understanding, it creates even more questions than it answers.

My man Socrates dropping some knowledge bombs about the uncertainty of knowledge. He knew what was up.
My man Socrates dropping some knowledge bombs about the uncertainty of knowledge. He knew what was up.
8. The less you care about others, the less you care about yourself. I know this may go against every perception you’ve ever had of a self-serving asshole, but people treat people the way they treat themselves. It may not be apparent on the outside, but people who are cruel to the people around them are cruel to themselves.

9. The more connected we get, the more isolated we feel. Despite being in more constant communication than ever, research finds an increase in loneliness and depression in the developed world over the past few decades.

10. The more you’re afraid to fail, the more likely you are to fail. See: self-fulfilling prophecy.

11. The harder you push for something, the harder it will feel to achieve. When we expect something to be difficult, we often unconsciously make it more difficult. For instance, for years, I assumed starting a conversation with a stranger was something that was highly abnormal and therefore “difficult.” As a result, I spent a lot of time strategizing and studying ways to relate to people I didn’t know. Little did I realize all I had to do was say “Hi” and then ask a simple question; that would get me 90% of the way there. But because it felt hard, I proceeded to make it hard for myself.

12. The more available something is, the less you will want it. Humans have a strong scarcity bias. We unconsciously assume things that are scarce are valuable and things that are abundant are not. This is not the case.

13. The best way to meet someone else is to not need to be with someone else. The defining theme of my book on dating was non-neediness and how that plays out in our relationships. The fact remains that the best way to find a sexual relationship — committed or otherwise — is by not needing a sexual relationship to be happy and investing more in yourself.

14. The more honest you are about your faults, the more people will think you’re perfect. The amazing thing about vulnerability is the more comfortable you are about not being that great, the more people will think you are.

15. The more you try to keep someone close, the further away you’ll push them. This is the argument against jealousy in relationships: once actions or feelings become obligations, they lose all meaning. If your girlfriend feels obligated to spend her weekends with you, then the time you spend together has become meaningless.

16. The more you try to argue with someone, the less likely you are to convince them of your perspective. The reason for this is that most arguments are emotional in nature. They come from someone’s values or self-perceptions being violated. Logic is only used to validate those pre-existing beliefs and values. It’s rarely about the objective or logical truth as much as it is repairing people’s worldviews. For any real debate to truly exist, both parties must be making an honest concession to put their egos aside and only deal with the data. This is rare, as anyone who’s spent any time on an internet forum could tell you.

17. The more choices you have, the less satisfied you are with each one. The old “paradox of choice.” Research shows that when we’re presented with more options, we become less satisfied with any particular one we go with. The theory is that when we have so many options, we have greater opportunity costs to selecting each particular one; therefore, we’re less happy with our decision.

Grocery aisle
Pick one. C’mon, PICK ONE!!!
18. The more convinced someone is that they’re right, the less they probably know. There’s a direct correlation between how open a person is to differing perspectives and how much that person actually knows about any given subject. Or as the philosopher Bertrand Russell once said: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

19. The only certainty is that nothing is ever certain. This realization almost made my head explode when I was 17.

20. The only constant is change. One of those little banal statements that feels really profound but doesn’t actually mean anything. But it’s still true!

Hack into blocked websites

How to Unblock Websites at
School, Work, Home or Anywhere
Internet censorship has grown drastically over
the past few years with countries like China,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran taking the lead over
others in blocking sources of free unbiased
information. China is known to have even forced
Google to filter its search results. Government
censorship is not the only reason why websites
are blocked. Some network administrators also
prevent users from accessing certain websites
which they believe are of no use in places such
as schools and sometimes, even offices. In such
times, you may need to access a website that is
blocked. This article explains how.
Which websites are most commonly Blocked?


The most
commonly blocked
websites include
websites about pop
culture, health,
medicine, women,
religion and
politics. Social websites are also often blocked
and include the likes of Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, Digg,
Hulu, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Blogger (Blogspot),
MySpace, Bebo, Flickr, Yahoo! Messenger,
Typepad, Technorati, StumbleUpon and
Delicious. Sites like Google News, Wikipedia,
Wikileaks and eBay are also blocked at certain
places.

There are many genuine reasons for which you
might want to visit blocked websites at your
school or office. Given below are the ways you
can use to regain access to the blocked website
you wish to visit.
1. Cache method : Most search engines maintain
a cache of web pages indexed by them. You
can search for a website on Google , Yahoo! or
Bing and click on the cached link that is given
next to the result. To load the web pages more
quickly, you can visit the text-only version.
Since the website is provided from the search
engine’s servers, it can be used to overcome IP
address and URL based filtering.

2. Using Google Mobile Search: For users
browsing on a slow mobile internet connection,
Google Mobile search removes all CSS styling
and JavaScript to present a stripped down
version of the web page from Google’s own
server. As the content is provided from
Google’s servers, the blocking software feels
that you are visiting Google, whereas in reality,
you are viewing the blocked website. Go to
Google Mobile Search . To visit the website of
your choice, just replace tweakandtrick.com in
the URL with the address of the website.
Despite the name, Google Mobile Search can be
accessed from your PC as well.
3. Access blocked websites with Google
Translate . You can use translation service from
Google to visit blocked websites. To do so,
enter a language different from the website’s
language in the ‘From’ field and English in the
“To” field. You can also use this method to
bypass software that block websites on the
basis of specific keyword mentions. Just
translate the URL you wish to visit in a different
language to overcome the keyword block.

4. Create a 2 layered unblocker: Go to Google
Translate, open any proxy website inside it and
then use that proxy website to access your
blocked website. In this way, you can achieve
two layered website unblocking.

5. Use RSS Readers for accessing restricted
blogs: All blogs syndicate their content via RSS
feeds which you can subscribe to in web based
RSS readers like Feedly to access blocked
content. For example, the RSS feed of this blog
is located at http://feeds.tweakandtrick.com/
tweakandtrick .

6. To access a blocked website, you can enter
its IP address instead of the URL in your
browser’s address bar . This can bypass most
basic forms of website blocks. Although if the
blocking software maps the IP address to the
website domain, the website will still remain
blocked. You can find the IP address of any
website by pinging the website domain name in
the Command Prompt in Windows (Terminal in
other operating systems) and noting its IP
address. Execute ping http://www.tweakandtrick.com
in the Command Prompt to ping
http://www.tweakandtrick.com.

7. Use IP Address to Decimal conversion : If you
cannot access your blocked website by entering
its IP address, you can enter the decimal
equivalent of the URL’s IP address to get
access to it. Search Google for IP to Decimal +
IP Address of the banned website and Google
will convert it into decimal. Enter that into your
browser’s address bar and see if the blocked
website opens.

8. Nyud.net : To unblock blocked websites, just
add nyud.net to their URL. For example, if this
blog ( http://www.tweakandtrick.com ) is blocked, you
can visit it by going to
http://www.tweakandtrick.com.nyud.net .

9. Opera Mini Simulator: Opera Mini, the mobile
browser for users with a slow internet
connection, can be installed on your computer.
You can use this PC version to visit blocked
websites as Opera Mini accesses content from
Opera’s servers instead of accessing it from the
servers on which the website is hosted. Most
websites will load through this method, although
the quality of the results obtained may not be
that good for JavaScript heavy websites.

10. TOR: TOR or The Onion Router is a free
software that protects the privacy and security
of its users by channeling data through multiple
nodes so as to prevent the original data from
being unscrambled. Although browsing through
TOR is a bit slow, it is one of the most effective
ways of bypassing restricted websites and
protecting your privacy.

11. Proxy websites: There are many proxy
websites (anonymizers) which open blocked
websites on their servers and present the data
to you. This hides the address of the website
you are trying to visit from your internet service
provider. Few popular free ones include
Anonymouse and KProxy.

12. VPN software: VPN or Virtual Private
Network software can be described as a tunnel
under the public network that offers more
anonymity than proxy websites as it also
encrypts the data transferred by the blocked
website thus, offering complete anonymity.
Although most VPN software are available as
paid software only, HotSpotShield is a popular
free alternative.

13. IP hiding software: Sometimes, websitesblock users on a particular IP address fromvisiting themselves. In such cases, free IPhiding software like UltraSurf can be used to
visit them. While free software offer very less
features as compared to paid ones, they are still
effective for overcoming most common blocks.

14. Changing DNS servers : A common way of
blocking websites is preventing DNS servers
from giving the locations of the blocked
website’s servers. In such a scenario, changing
your DNS servers to those of OpenDNS or
Google DNS will be your best option to get over
the block. As an additional advantage, this can
also increase your internet speed .

15. Edit your host files: Some malware and
blocking software edit your host files and add a
website’s address in them to prevent you from
visiting it. In such a scenario, you can edit your
host file with Notepad by visiting “C:\WINDOWS
\system32\drivers\etc” if C is your system
drive. In Windows 10, Windows 8(.1), Windows 7,
a warning from UAC might be displayed.

10 PAINFULLY OBVIOUS TRUTHS EVERYONE FORGETS TOO SOON

You know how you can hear something a hundred times in a hundred different ways before it finally gets through to you? The ten truths listed below fall firmly into that category – life lessons that many of us likely learned years ago, and have been reminded of ever since, but for whatever reason, haven’t fully grasped.

This, my friends, is my attempt at helping all of us, myself included, “get it” and “remember it” once and for all…
1. THE AVERAGE HUMAN LIFE IS RELATIVELY SHORT

We know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.

LIVE your life TODAY! Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive. Be bold. Be courageous. Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

2. YOU LIVE THE LIFE YOU CREATE FOR YOURSELF

Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to switch paths or pave a new one when it makes sense.

Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t. Be productive and patient. And realize that patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in. This is your life, and it is made up entirely of your choices. May your actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end.

And if life only teaches you one thing, let it be that taking a passionate leap is always worth it. Even if you have no idea where you’re going to land, be brave enough to step up to the edge of the unknown, and listen to your heart.

3. BEING BUSY DOES NOT MEAN BEING PRODUCTIVE

Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect. Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time. We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.

Being busy rarely equates to productivity these days. Just take a quick look around. Busy people outnumber productive people by a wide margin. Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their day planners are jammed to the brim with obligations. Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.

Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.

4. SOME KIND OF FAILURE ALWAYS OCCURS BEFORE SUCCESS

Most mistakes are unavoidable. Learn to forgive yourself. It’s not a problem to make them. It’s only a problem if you never learn from them.

If you’re too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. The solution to this problem is making friends with failure. You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us.

Bottom line: Just because it’s not happening now, doesn’t mean it never will. Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. (Read The Success Principles.)

5. THINKING AND DOING ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS

Success never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it.

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Knowledge is basically useless without action. Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals. Ask yourself what’s really important and then have the courage to build your life around your answer.

And remember, if you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you’ll likely be waiting the rest of your life.

6. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR AN APOLOGY TO FORGIVE

Life gets much easier when you learn to accept all the apologies you never got. The key is to be thankful for every experience – positive or negative. It’s taking a step back and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.” It’s realizing that grudges from the past are a perfect waste of today’s happiness, and that holding one is like letting unwanted company live rent free in your head.

Forgiveness is a promise – one you want to keep. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. It has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.

7. SOME PEOPLE ARE SIMPLY THE WRONG MATCH FOR YOU

You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down. You shouldn’t force connections with people who constantly make you feel less than amazing.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you’re with them, for whatever reason, they’re probably not close friend material. If they make you feel like you can’t be yourself, or if they make you “less than” in any way, don’t pursue a connection with them. If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with them or get a small hit of anxiety when you are reminded of them, listen to your intuition. There are so many “right people” for you, who energize you and inspire you to be your best self. It makes no sense to force it with people who are the wrong match for you.

8. IT’S NOT OTHER PEOPLE’S JOB TO LOVE YOU; IT’S YOURS

It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. So make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth, even if they don’t.

Today, let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as incomplete as you think you are. Yes, let someone love you despite all of this, and let that someone be YOU. (Read Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.)

9. WHAT YOU OWN IS NOT WHO YOU ARE

Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person. Most of us can make do with much less than we think we need. That’s a valuable reminder, especially in a hugely consumer-driven culture that focuses more on material things than meaningful connections and experiences.

You have to create your own culture. Don’t watch too much TV, don’t read every fashion magazine, and don’t read too many newspapers. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about Kim Kardashian or Miley Cyrus (most obvious examples) or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You’re giving your life away to marketing and media trickery, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and be a certain way. This is tragic, this kind of thinking. What is real is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears, etc.

Too often we’re told that we’re not important, we’re just peripheral to what is. “Get a degree, get a job, get a car, get a house, and keep on getting.” And it’s sad, because someday you’ll wake up and realize you’ve been tricked. And all you’ll want then is to reclaim your mind by getting it out of the hands of manipulative media that wants to turn you into the perfect consumer that buys everything that isn’t needed to impress everyone that isn’t important. It’s a hamster wheel, think about it.

10. EVERYTHING CHANGES, EVERY SECOND

Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason. It won’t always be obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.

What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow. You never know. Things change, often spontaneously. People and circumstances come and go. Life doesn’t stop for anybody. It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day. It’s likely happening to someone nearby right now.

Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives. A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth. Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event. And these events are always happening to someone else right this second.

However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So when life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better every second. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have while they have it.

Check out Marc and Angel Hack life, awesome website with more powerful articles!

YOUR TURN

What else would you add to this list? What important life lessons do you often forget? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Do it like a Genius

“Genius” is a lofty title that can feel unobtainable for the average person; but geniuses are people, too. It’s easy to put the best and brightest thinkers of all time on a pedestal, but it turns out that they did and liked a lot of the same things we “normal people” do. Here are a few of the ways that you are just like them.

1. YOU DON’T SLEEP VERY OFTEN.

Being a night owl is not always a bad thing. Health professionals say we should get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night, but geniuses rarely abide by that rule. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla claimed to only sleep two hours at a time, and once continued working for 84 hours straight. Historians say that Leonardo da Vinci followed the Uberman cycle (more scientifically called polyphasic sleep) which consisted of 20-minute naps every four hours.

2. YOU ARE PARTICULARLY FOND OF CATS.

Highly intelligent and creative people throughout history have been cat lovers, including Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, and Ernest Hemingway (to name a few). Studies have shown that cat owners tend to have higher IQs and are more educated.

3. YOU CAN BE A BIT MESSY.

Brilliant people tend to thrive in cluttered working environments, and a recent study has psychologists believing that a messy desk can lead to more creative thinking (in their research, messy workers were more likely to choose new projects and challenges over conventional choices). Want proof that messy people have a creative edge? Mark Twain was a notorious slob.

4. YOUR HANDWRITING IS NOT GREAT.

If someone says that your handwriting is illegible, take it as a compliment. Studies have suggested that gifted people often have terrible handwriting because their brains are working faster than their hands.

5. YOU’RE ATHLETIC.

The stereotype of a dumb jock simply isn’t true (well, sometimes, at least). For starters, Pythagoras was once a boxer. And it’s no coincidence that ancient Greece gave birth to both philosophy and the Olympics: The Greeks believed that athleticism was a sign of a good leader. Aristotle also believed that sport or play was closest to “contemplation,” since it’s an action performed for its own benefit, not as a means to an end.

6. YOU START YOUR DAY WITH A CUP (OR TWO) OF COFFEE.

Musical genius Beethoven had very specific coffee demands and would count out 60 beans for every cup. Benjamin Franklin often hung out at coffee shops and even sold his own beans, and Balzac chronicled his own coffee addiction in “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee.” So the next time you need a boost, don’t hesitate to grab a mug.

7. YOU LIKE YOUR PRIVACY.

Geniuses are notorious for being introverts, and some genuinely believed that meaningful things could only be accomplished in solitude. Jane Austen was known to keep the hinges on the door to her study squeaky so she would be alerted to the arrival of visitors.

8. YOU ENJOY LONG WALKS.

Great thinkers from Soren Kierkegaard to Charles Dickens did some of their best thinking while strolling; Kierkegaard would rush back to his writing desk, hat and walking stick in hand, when inspiration struck (Beethoven was better prepared: he always carried a pencil and notepad on his walks). Tchaikovsky made sure he walked for a full two hours every day, and even managed to convince himself that he would fall ill if he didn’t get a full 120 minutes outside.

9. YOU KEEP A DIARY.

Geniuses from Leonardo da Vinci to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Virginia Woolf were known to journal their thoughts and observations. The French Romantic artist Eugène Delacriox (who’s most well known for his work Liberty Leading the People) said of his diary, “I am taking up my Journal again after a long break. I think it may be a way of calming this nervous excitement that has been worrying me for so long.”

10. YOU CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF NATURE.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Robert Frost (to name a few) all had a deep respect for the natural world. Some of their best work was done by observing or reconnecting with nature.

11. YOU LOVE MUSIC.

You don’t have to be a genius composer to benefit from a good melody: Leonardo da Vinci played several instruments and even invented his own, while Galileo played the lute and let music inspire his work as a philosopher.