Advertising
Advertising

How Word Choices Transform Your Mind

How Word Choices Transform Your Mind

The way we speak has powerful impact on our ability to be successful and happy yet few of us are intentional with our choice of words. Studies have shown that use of negative words like “no” can actually change the release of hormones and neurotransmitters  to ones that damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions.  Changing the way we speak to ourselves and to others through making better word choices can impact our optimism and improve the willingness of others to hear what we are saying.

Here are a few tips on how to make your language work for you.

“The words you speak become the house you live in.” – Hafiz

The most powerful word in your vocabulary…YET.

Often we make statements like “I can’t speak French” or “I don’t know how to lose weight” but by adding one little word, yet, to the end of each sentence you change the sentiment from something you cannot do to something you aspire to do. Your brain recognizes the subtle difference between a hopeless statement and one that suggests that at a future time it will happen. Whenever you start something new, remember this helper word to make sentences stronger and more hopeful. For example, “I don’t know anything about economics yet” or “I haven’t run a marathon yet.”

Take BUSY out of your life.

The word busy has certainly become a buzzword of this generation. We aspire to be busy as though it proves that we are doing important things and not wasting our lives. Busy implies doing a lot or even struggling to complete all that needs to be done. I suggest replacing busy with productive or full. This simple switch empowers you to have a results that you control without implied turbulence. Getting the hurry gone and slowing down mentally actually makes us more effective at multitasking. Don’t have busy days — have productive days!

No more SHOULDs.

The word should doesn’t imply a positive action. It gives external focus as to why you are doing what you are doing. If you want to act from a place of personal strength the impetus needs to come from within. Replacing your shoulds with get to, going to, or can creates a much stronger statement of intention. For example, don’t say you should be studying but that you are going to study. Thinking really carefully about the source of the should is a great exercise. It might be our peers, our parents, our culture or religion that has caused us to think we should do something. If that should doesn’t align with what we really want then is it actually something we want to do?

Advertising

No more I’ll TRY.

Yoda had it right when he said “Do or do not. There is no try.” Try implies that you probably won’t do it or be successful. Take try right out of your vocab to adopt a more positive and powerful mindset. If you intend to do something, do it. If you have no intention of doing something then own that. By speaking your truth you align with your inner-self and actually start to recognize more clearly what you want to do in your life.

Start talking positively (aka no more negative)

When you move towards what you want rather than away from what you want, you speak with a much more powerful voice. Instead of saying “I have to stop dating losers” say ” I will date people who bring out my best”. Instead of saying ” Stop arguing with your brother” say “I would love to hear you speak kindly to one another.”

It’s not just what you say but how you say it.

There has been a ton of research about how power postures and body language affect your ability to be heard successfully. Here are a few quick tips on how to speak once you have made your word choices:

Advertising

1. Make eye contact when you speak.

2. Shoulders back.

3. Hands on hips or at your side.

Advertising

4. Legs hip distance apart.

5. If seated sit forward with arms and legs uncrossed.

6. Use adequate volume to display authority without being loud.

Advertising

Spending just a bit of time tweaking the way you speak can improve communication at work, at home, and in your personal relationships. Take charge of your word choices to transform your mind.

More by this author

Why Meditation Makes You Happier, Healthier and More Successful and How To Get Started confident woman 22 Things That Confident Women Don’t Do This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Walk In The Woods Touching Other People Can Make You Healthier And More Successful, Study Finds 5 Tips from Positive Psychology to Help You Avoid Holiday Stress

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next