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8 Things Wallflowers Want You to Know

8 Things Wallflowers Want You to Know

As someone who’s been a wallflower since his first co-ed school dance 20 years ago, I feel like I’m an authority on the subject. Although we might not be the life of the party, there are a bunch of reasons you should get to know the people who choose to stay away from the dance floor:

1. We hate small talk

If you engage in a conversation with a wallflower, be prepared for some thought-provoking dialogue. We absolutely hate talking about the weather, or about “the big game last night.” We’d rather get to know people on a much deeper level. Feel free to discuss your interests, passions, hopes and dreams with us. We won’t judge you; we’re genuinely interested in getting to know as much about everyone and everything the world has to offer.

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2. We’re shy around large groups, but fun in small circles

Large groups can be intimidating, especially to wallflowers who tend to march to the beat of their own drum. We avoid crowds because we feel like we don’t fit in with the masses. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We embrace our weirdness, and actively seek out others who feel the same way. Once we latch on to someone, we try to make the connection last. If you’re in our inner circle, know we genuinely care about you.

3. We’re awkward in unfamiliar situations

Since we’re not well-versed in small talk, and hate being in large groups, we’re just not “good” in those situations. We’re the type of people that will say “You too” when a ticket-taker says “Enjoy the movie!” We just don’t come prepared for certain situations, so you need to be prepared to be embarrassed by our ridiculous social gaffes. Sorry, but it comes with the territory.

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4. We can shed our wallflower persona at times

When the mood strikes us, and when we’re around the right group of people, we do enjoy being the center of attention. The situation has to be one in which we’re incredibly comfortable, of course. We have to be confident that we’re pretty good at whatever we’re doing, too. So, don’t expect us to get up and do some wacky dance just for fun if we can’t dance. But if someone breaks out a guitar and we happen to be secretly good at it, we might just take the spotlight for a little while.

5. We don’t mind being passive observers

We actually like being on the outside looking in. Most wallflowers are writers or artists who enjoy analyzing events rather than directly experiencing them. We’re the ones creating poems, articles, and paintings to memorialize special occasions for everyone to enjoy forever. We can live vicariously through our friends or peers, and then recreate the experience through our own chosen media.

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6. We don’t need to be out all night

We can go out and have a good time, but we usually want to leave before the night gets a little too crazy. It just doesn’t appeal to us to “keep the party going” just for the sake of staying out. Usually, by about midnight or 1AM, we’re ready to get some shut eye. Like Ted says in How I Met Your Mother: Nothing good happens after 2AM.

7. We’re ambiverts

We’re just as happy staying in as we are going out. Sometimes that might jibe with our friends’ plans of being out all night (see above), but after a long week at work, sometimes we want to spend Friday night curled up with a nice book. We need to recharge, and sometimes we view going out as another chore that we’d rather not do. On the other hand, there are nights when we get stir crazy and need to show face in public for at least a little while.

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8. We surround ourselves with people we care about

Like I said, if you’re in our inner circle, consider yourself loved. We don’t need to have a ton of friends, so if we consider you one, you should know you’re one of a select few. We most likely find you incredibly interesting, and fun to be around. You also help us feel comfortable in situations in which we usually aren’t. So, thanks for sticking by us!

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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