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15 Easy Ways to Make Others Smile

15 Easy Ways to Make Others Smile

I love making people’s days better, and I know I’m not alone.

Although we are constantly worried about our own problems, bills, or the way people think of us, making someone else smile or improving their day through a simple act of kindness can completely turn your mood around, too. What’s better? These kind, positive actions aren’t that hard to do, nor do they take that much time from our busy, frantic lives.

Here are 15 super simple, fun ways to make other smile.

1. Crack a dad joke or terrible pun

Okay, I know not everyone is super witty or clever or quick on their feet enough to do this. But even a simple joke or witty commentary will do. Humor is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make someone smile (crazy, right?!).

Some people might find you corny or cheesy, but deep down inside their laughing too. Besides, your simple act of courageousness and your willingness to be vulnerable enough to tell a joke will win the reward of a smile, making others feel better.

2. Give a genuine compliment

Compliments are often mistaken as creepy come-ons for one reason: they aren’t sincere. If you truly like the way a girl’s hair looks or a guy’s smile looks, they’ll be able to tell immediately by the way you say it. If you truly mean it, this simple sentence, that took maybe 15 seconds to say, can make someone’s entire week.

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3. Reach out to someone you miss

Sadly, I see a lot of people use the excuse of, “Well, they haven’t talked to me in X years either and the phone works both ways dontchaknow?!”

What a sad thing to say. If you’re yearning to spend time with with a close friend or relative, reach out and see how they’re doing. Be the first to initiate contact. Again, genuine gestures go a long way here. Even just a Hey, I really miss you and hope you’re happy with life text will hit them right in the feels.

4. Food

Even people who are dieting or exercise a bunch love pizza and burritos, but not together. Or maybe…

*Bonus points: If you make something from scratch. Even if they’re burned cookies, it’s still really cool that you did that and the recipient will appreciate it (and probably laugh it off with you).

5. Send your mom or loved one “just because” flowers

This is fairly self-explanatory, but random gifts and treats are so much more appreciated when they’re given spontaneously.

Birthdays, Mothers Day’s, and every other Hallmark holidays can be spotted from a mile away with the expectation that a gift is coming. Although gift giving in any form is appreciated, random gifts are always the best.

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6. Tell someone you’re proud of them

These words are so heavy and meaningful, but some of that meaning is often lost because we’re only told that by our parents or family members. Telling a close friend or significant other that you’re proud of them after they accomplished something meaningful carries substantial validity.

In fact, try flipping the switch and tell your parents you’re proud of them for something they did. There comes a time in your life when you’ll finally realize that they’re not just superheroes, but actual people, too.

*Bonus points: Praise them publicly

7. Write and send a handwritten letter or note

I had a pen pal recently bring up a really good point about our current culture. In our highly communicative, fast-paced lives, we often have, like, six to ten conversations going at once.

Between social media, email, text messaging, and Tinder, the intimacy of letter writing has sadly diminished. In fact, disappeared. But, if you think about it, there aren’t many things on the planet that can be more complimentary. The fact that you sat down for 15-20 straight minutes to carefully craft a message to one person, and one person only, is like one hundred specific compliments wrapped in an envelope and stamped with love.

8. Listen fully

Again, there are a lot of distractions in the world around us, and some for good reason. Life is crazy beautiful! There are countless things to look at and see and do and experience. However, one of the kindest, most touching things you could do for someone is be fully attentive when they are talking. I can almost guarantee they will kindly return the favor when you want to talk, and they will never forget how much you care.

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9. Say “I’m sorry”

We’ve all done someone wrong, but it’s never, ever, ever too late to make it right. The ship rarely ever sails, but our egos make us thinks they did. It doesn’t matter if it’s been days, weeks, months, or even years since the incident happened, owning up to something you did that hurt another person will go a million miles in one heartbeat.

10. Give a huge tip

For some reason I’m unsure of, people seem think, and tip, like the check they pay at the end of the meal is what the waiter, waitress, or bartender pockets. Now, I’m not saying that all people tip poorly, or all service is super great, but giving a great tip, especially when the service warrants the pay, will make that persons shift endlessly better.

11. Say what’s up to the mailman

Dude, he brings your mail every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the sleet, in the snow, in the squelching hot sun, and any other inclement weather pattern in-between, he’s always there. That sort of reliability and timeliness deserves a proper introduction at least. Or, if nothing else, a head bob and a smile.

12. Realize when someone is bumming out and encourage them

The world is inherently negative, and it’s very difficult to pull ourselves out of funks alone. I can remember several times when friends recognized I was down and did something they knew would pull me out of it.

But it doesn’t have to just be with your friends. People can be read pretty easily. Older gentleman hanging his head on the bus? How hard is it to turn and say, “Hey, you okay?” Believe it or not, we’re all scared and worried and get depressed at times.

However, we’re all in this “mess” together. Kindness always comes full circle.

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13. Give thanks

It’s often said that successful people start their day by giving thanks for one thing or several things they have. Even when you’re striving for more, or trying to make a better life, it’s always good to stop and recognize the beauty that exists around you.

How can a rose grow in the middle of New York City on it’s own? Astounding. This is also true for others. Someone holds the door for you? Thanks, m’am. The barista at the coffee shop you frequent buys your coffee on a Friday?Frick yeah! Thanks! Waitress fills your water glass without you having to ask for it? Well, you get it by now. It’s pretty easy to recognize moments of graciousness if you keep your eyes out for them.

14. Be available even if you don’t want to be

Okay, don’t ever tell someone that you don’t want to be there for them. That’s not only extremely disrespectful, but also very hurtful.

What I’m encouraging instead is to be willing to drop the things you want to do to be there for someone. This can be a text message convo, a phone convo, or a late night trip to Baskin Robbins after a bad breakup or a job firing. There will come a time when you’re called on to be there for someone when you have other stuff going on. Be there and light up their world.

15. Smile at everyone you see every single day

I intentionally saved this one for last for two reasons: 1.) It’s the easiest one to do and can be applied to everyone you pass during the day (I’m looking at you, city dwellers) and 2.) It’s so effortless. Actually, I want to challenge all of you. Next time you’re on your lunch break at work or walking around the busy mall on a Saturday, look up from your phone for 5 minutes, make eye contact with the person in passing, and give them a warmhearted smile. Again, sincerity, not creepiness, is the key here.

But if you make it from the heart, you’ll be truly amazed at what will happen.

Positivity is a lot like a stone being dropped in a calm lake. Once you drop it in (via a simple action), it will send ripples of kindness and happiness in every direction.

Featured photo credit: Young happy hipster woman looks through binoculars via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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