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7 Reasons Bilinguals Are Always Likeable

7 Reasons Bilinguals Are Always Likeable

In every language you will find traces of the people who use it and of when they used it. That is why Australian English differs from American English for example.

Bilinguals therefore don’t just know 2 or more languages, they also know as many cultures. Since each culture comes with its own world view, a typical bilingual has many, many world views.

That’s what makes them so special. Likeable, you’d say. From their different ways of saying je t’aime to their many ways of making peace, something about bilinguals just keeps pulling in those who get to know them.

Here is a portrait of these people.

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1. They Have Great Intuition

Many researches indicate that bilingualism can greatly improve one’s cognitive abilities, among other brain functions. One of these cognitive abilities is intuition, as bilinguals often have to juggle between multiple meanings for the same words and gestures, depending on who they meet.

Just like a trained muscle will develop more mass, juggling between contexts leaves bilinguals with greater intuitive skills.

2. They Are Open Minded

While monolinguals tend to believe that there is one right way of doing things, research shows that people raised as bilinguals understand that most things in life are subjective. They are rarely ever phased by difference or afraid of the new because at one point in life, the new was them.

3. They Are Uniquely Creative

If you’ve ever tried translating a joke from one language to another without killing its essence, then you know what I mean. Operating in the bilingual universe requires some serious out-of-the-boxeness.

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Look at it this way. Creativity is the measure how proficiently one can shuffle through old information, make working combinations and produce viable results. Bilinguals are forced to do lots of that. They pick a word from one language, dip it in another, slap onto it the right context reinforcer, test to see if the essence is intact and voila. A delicious phrase is born.

Because of the constant pull on their creative resources, bilinguals tend to develop great problem solving skills, which you can always put to use if you hang around them.

4. They Are Young At Heart

According to scientific research, bilinguals show signs of brain ageing and cognitive related diseases like Alzeimers and dementia far later in life than their monolingual counterparts. Let me explain.

Your white brain matter contains nerves, and those nerves are surrounded by myelin. When that myelin is in good health, the risk of losing information during transmission is reduced. In a typical bilingual, myelin is more developed than in a monolingual.  Which is why bilinguals tend to stay sharper, hence younger at heart, longer than monolinguals.

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5. They Are Powerful Connectors

Who would better introduce a german to a colombian than a spanish-speaking german? Bilinguals have the advantage of being brothers to everyone, which makes them effective social bridges. If you genuinely wish to understand a foreign colleague or acquaintance but don’t know how to approach them, start with a bilingual.

6. They Have A Rich Emotional IQ

Although love is a universal language, something about French love makes it different from Dutch love. To be able to express and receive love in many languages, requires you to be different people in one, to be triggered yet turned off by the same sentence depending on the accent in which it is said. The array of emotions a bilingual can understand, but most importantly express, is bounded by love itself. Which makes them unique leaders and lovers.

7. They Are A Reminder Of Home

When you feel disconnected in a foreign land, a simple conversation in your native tongue is sometimes all it takes to feel better. And because bilinguals offer expatriates the unique ability to describe their fears and joys in the language in which they are deepest, the two often form a unique bond. As a bilingual, I have seen the face of many people light up as I talk to them in the language they grew up with. To them I an not just whoever I am, I am a reminder of home.

In closing,

If you are not a bilingual yet, you’re not a lost case. All the benefits listed above apply to early bilinguals as well as late bilinguals.

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Only 300 words make up about 65% of all written English material and it is almost the same for other languages. You don’t need to know it all. Since there is no expiry date on your first step, today would be an awesome start. 1 word today, 2 tomorrow and through commitment  you’ll get there.

Du courage!

More by this author

Pat Evrard

Pat shows people how to become their best self and achieve lasting greatness.

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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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