Sensory nudges to enhance creative confidence

Sensory nudging

Visual nudging

  • Illumination: Bright illumination with light-coloured walls enhance productivity in a work environment.
  • Messaging: Use inspirational messages on walls. For example, a poster like “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” –Steve Jobs can be displayed to get the added advantage of enhancing creativity.
  • Visual cues: Visual cues, like iconography and infographics, can make a big impact on the results of a creative session. For example, if we use the iconography of a road, it gives a clear signal to the team of an expected roadmap. Inserting the right visual cues creates a huge impact on the output of a creative get-together.
  • Colours: Different colours bear different implications on our mood, behaviour and thinking. Let us explore four common colours.
  • The intellectual blue: Blue is the colour of intellect. It represents trust, logic, communication and efficiency. Use blue when the work requires focus and invoices mental strain.
  • The emotional yellow: Yellow is a colour of emotions. It represents creativity, friendliness, optimism and confidence. Incorporate yellow when you want to stimulate positivity, creativity and happiness.
  • The balanced green: Green is the colour of balance. It represents harmony, nature and restoration. Use green when you are looking to think divergent and are discussing something to build on each other’s ideas.
  • The physical red: Red is a physical colour. It represents courage, strength and excitement. Use red when you expect people to roll up their sleeves and get into action, e.g., during prototyping, product development, etc.
  • Set-up: A more open set-up can help people to collaborate easily. It breaks the contests of “my idea” vs “your idea” and converts all of them to “our idea”. An ideal scenario is a room without too many boardroom tables, but with more whiteboards/walls and places to sit together.

Audio nudging

  • Divergent thinking: It demands to think of new ways, ideas, possibilities to solve the problem. Research proves that a ‘happy and uplifting music’ enhances creativity, as it helps the human brain to relax and bring a positive mood. A positive mood helps the brain explore new possibilities or even convert constraints to possibilities.
  • Convergent thinking: This stage requires us to be critical and take decisions on solutions to be chosen. Research says that music acts like a distraction during this stage. As the mind needs to think critically, it needs to focus deeply on each point. It is recommended that during convergent stages, it is better to keep the environment silent and calm.
  • Divergent thinking: This is the stage where the expectation is to explore diverse and wild possibilities. At this point, it is all about increasing: “increase numbers”, “increase wildness”, “increase collaboration” and “increase creation”. The words used during this stage have a great impact on thinking ideas and also in building on ideas of others. Using positive words like “Yes, and …”, “What if …”, “How else …”, “Where else …”, “Let’s add …” and having inspirational quotes around help enhance divergence.
  • Let the child in you do the thinking.
  • Explore, Experiment, Exemplify
  • Creative people make places CREATIVE.
  • Boundaries are just in the mind.
  • Once a creator, always a creator.
  • Fear is not an emotion for the creative!
  • Convergent thinking: This stage is all about selecting, critical thinking and decision-making. This is the stage where emotions run high and the battle of “my idea” vs “your idea” starts. While there is some critiquing involved at this stage, I feel the need is to have constructive criticism, which will help lead to conversion from “my idea” to “our idea”. This means using words that lead to critiquing in a positive manner, e.g., “advice”, “suggestion”, “input” and “recommendation”. You may have a structured framework to support decision-making.

Taste nudging

  • Dark chocolates: Flavanols, a nutrient found in chocolates, increase blood flow to the brain by dilating vessels. In addition, dark chocolate contains the perfect amount of caffeine and, most importantly, magnesium, which helps decrease stress and releases the “happy hormones”, such as serotonin and endorphins.
  • Green tea: It contains theanine, an important amino acid analogue. Theanine helps improve cognition and reduces stress by promoting the production of alpha waves in the brain. These alpha waves release caffeine slowly, rather than in a burst, so we avoid that sudden crash and maintain productivity and creativity.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts are packed with neuroprotective compounds, such as melatonin, antioxidants, and omega-3s which help increase cognitive performance and inferential reasoning.
  • Berries: One of the great things about berries is that there are so many options to pick from and each of them contains tyrosine. In addition, berries help maintain communication between brain cells and help activate the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps in survival, growth, and differentiation of new neurons, which is a must when it comes to creative thinking.
  • Avocados: In order to think creatively, our brain depends on constant blood flow and glucose. This green fruit enhances blood flow and delivers the oxygen needed for our brain cells.

Touch nudging

  • Temperature: As per research, keeping the ambiance cold reduces creativity, because the body uses energy to keep itself warm. So, it is recommended that the ambient environment should be kept warm for the body to focus its energies on thinking and creating.
  • Material: We think that it is only our brains that work. But if we start creating shapes while thinking, our whole body starts thinking! So, keeping materials that can help us imagine and create shapes in parallel helps increase the creative ability. During discussions, keeping materials that can be moulded into any shape helps. These include clay, ice-cream sticks, marsh-mellow, paper, post-its and chart papers. These materials can also help foster imagination through touch.

Smell nudging

  • Natural smells: Studies show that certain smells like jasmine, lemon, vanilla and cinnamon boost cognitive performance.
  • Scents: We can even use scents that are personal preferences, like the smell of candyfloss that reminds us of childhood, the smell of the morning soil, the smell after the first rains (petrichor) or the smell of the perfume we wore at our wedding.



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