Most people are already working on skills such as public speaking, negotiating, and self discipline. But you, like me, are probably more interested in skills looming under the radar. Here are 6 to add to your arsenal:
1. Reading micro-expressions.
Perhaps as close as you can get to reading somebody’s mind. It’s a common skill in the toolbox of detectives and mentalists. You may be familiar with the basics of reading body language- if a person’s feet are pointing toward you then generally they’re engaged, if they’re pointing toward the door, then that’s the direction they are wanting to head. Pupil dilation is another aspect that detectives look at to gauge whether someone is lying- dilated pupils are from positive and relaxed responses, constricted pupils are from negative and stressful responses.
Beyond that, understanding eye direction is an intriguing and unique skill to study more.
Here’s a good outline:
It is important to understand the distinction between construction and memory. Constructing is putting together an event that has not yet happened, memory is digging through an event that has already happened. Detectives will conclude that an individual is more inclined to be lying if they are constructing thoughts rather than memorising thoughts.
Ask the next person you are talking to some questions and pay attention to their eye movements.
2. The Major Memory System
Most people struggle to remember a phone number. Akira Haruguchi set the current world record reciting 100,000 digits of Pi. He started at 9am and finished 16 hours later at 1:28am, taking five minute breaks every two hours. There is a whole subculture of “mental athletes” that accomplish similar feats using ancient memory techniques. Although Haruguchi has his own system, the most popular is the Major System:
Here is how the process works:
1. Assign a consonant sound to each digit.
2. Throw in some vowels to create a word.
3. Turn that word into an image.
4. String the images together for longer numbers.
5. Create a story for even longer numbers using a memory palace.
Let’s take the number 817-204-9485- fitting a nuzzler on a poor fool– is how I would remember that. According to the phonetic system: Fitting (817), nuzzler (204), poor(94), fool (85). The fact that it does not make any sense makes it even more memorable.
Yes, to start off, it does take much longer than just writing it down. But the more you do it, the quicker you become at converting numbers to images. And there are some pretty cool things you can apply it to later on; memorising decks of playing cards is based off this memory system.
Try it now with your own phone number, and then your credit card.
3. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).
The ability to break down and optimise every stage of your thought and experiential process- that is NLP in a nutshell.
Consider this scenario:
You are going for a walk at night, you see a suspicious shadow out the corner of your eye, you freak out, and then run away.
Here is a chart of what you just experienced.
The whole process happens in an instant; the brain responds so quick that by the time you have already reacted, you are not even fully aware of your emotional response, let alone the interpretation of the stimulus. The example given was very basic compared to the more complex human experiences of depression and frustration, or motivation and performance. The methods of NLP are not only remedial in breaking the negative patterns but also generative in bringing about desired positive changes.
There are a myriad of strategies for bringing about changes but essential they revolve around taking a successful script to rewrite a negative script/experience. Athletes may mimic specific movements or mentally rehearse an affirmation before they perform. You can also think back to a personal experience of peak performance, make it as vivid and real as possible, and use it as a ‘trigger’ for future events.
Here is a couple of good books to check out:
4. Speed Reading
The average adult reads 300 words per minute. Speed reading methods can easily double your reading rate. If you have never calculated your reading rate, here is a free reading test.
The biggest culprit for slowing down reading is subvocalizing- that little voice inside your head saying each word. You may have already come across segments of writing that have a few letters in each word jumbled up yet you are still able to read them.
If the brain is able to look at a jumbled-up set of words and decipher its meaning, it is certainly capable of understanding a word without having to subvocalize. This is the essential teaching of speed reading.
Here is a great book to get you started:
5. Mind Mapping
We do not think in a linear fashion. If your thoughts were vomited out onto a piece of paper, it wouldn’t fall into straight lines on a page. Mind-mapping is a tool that integrates the use of words, images, numbers, and colour to enhance and improve learning and thinking.
Here is what mind mapping looks like:
Give mind-mapping a try the next time you are brainstorming or trying to get clarity on an idea. Users say that the creative components aid in the thinking process.
Here is a free online mind-mapping tool.
6. International Phonetic Alphabet
Ever come across a word and then have no idea how to pronounce it? And then you get even more frustrated when the pronunciation is transcribed and you can’t decipher it! The evolution of english from old to middle to modern has more nuances than your can poke a stick at. The IPA was designed to understand these nuances and allow for proper pronunciation.
Here it is in action:
If you have any unique skills that you think needs to be on the list, feel free to contribute!