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It’s Not Just Cooler, But Also Healthier: 10 Reasons Why Men Should Grow Beards

It’s Not Just Cooler, But Also Healthier: 10 Reasons Why Men Should Grow Beards

When something becomes popular, it also becomes a target for criticism from people who either do not understand the trend or simply do not like it. Beards have gained huge popularity with men all over the world. They are utilized as a way to make a personal statement and help shape the individual’s style. However, not everyone is convinced that this is a good thing. There is a large contingency of people who think that beards are just plain cool, but there are many detractors who would rather see beards just go away.

Luckily for men who love their beards, and those who love men who love their beards, there are more reasons than just style for maintaining a beard. The detractors probably do not realize that there are health benefits to having a beard, which means that it is time to educate them on why men with beards tend to be healthier than those who cut their facial hair.

1. Blocks UV Rays

Extensive scientific research has shown that thick beards are capable of blocking out 95 percent of the UV rays from the sun. Not only do beards prevent your skin from getting burnt but they also help to protect your skin from getting cancer.

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2. Shaving Gives You Acne

If you have a beard, then the chances are very strong that you have smooth skin under that facial hair. According to ThoughtCatalog.com, shaving your face helps to spread the bacteria that causes acne. This means that allowing your beard to grow and taking proper care of your beard encourages healthy skin.

3. Perception Is Everything

In one study, eight men purposefully has their beards shaved off and then grew them back. There were pictures taken at each stage of new beard growth to give a catalog of the progress.

When the men had fully regrown their beards, the researchers brought together 64 men and 64 women to analyze the progress pictures and get their opinions. The research showed that as the men’s beards grew in fuller, the opinion that the 128 people in the group had of each man was perceived to be more positive. Each man was rated as appearing to be more mature, attractive, and healthy as their beards became fuller.

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4. Build That Confidence

Men who have more confidence in themselves tend to be more successful in all aspects of their lives. According to Jebiga.com, a beard gives a man a sense of power and confidence that is readily evident to everyone around him. Therefore, making the decision to grow a beard is a way for a man to set a higher standard for his life and become more successful.

5. A Natural Filter

Men who grow a moustache enjoy the benefits of having microscopic allergens kept out of their noses and, as a result, the reduction of the effects of conditions such as hay fever and other allergies. With a beard, that filtering protection is taken to a whole new level. In fact, a beard will help keep those same allergens and airborne bacteria out of your mouth, which will lead to overall better health. When you combine a beard with a moustache, you get twofold protection that a clear-faced male cannot get. Of course, you do need to take steps to clean and maintain your facial hair filter, and beard oil is one of the most popular grooming methods for men who grow beards.

6. Fountain Of Youth

A beard can actually function as a fountain of youth because of all of the protection it offers. Since facial hair keeps your skin clear of cancerous blemishes and having a beard means you reduce the amount of acne and discoloration on your skin, your skin will stay healthy for longer. The ability of a beard and moustache to keep allergens out of your system will also improve your overall health. In this way, beards work to keep you not only looking younger but feeling younger as well.

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7. Fewer Wrinkles

Another side-effect of having less exposure to the sun is that you get less wrinkles. While the option to protect the face from wrinkles by using a beard is not open to everyone, those who do have the opportunity to take advantage of this beauty benefit should get on board and start growing their beards right now.

8. Helps Lessen The Possibility Of Gum Disease

When your beard and moustache help to keep airborne bacteria out of your mouth, they are also working together to reduce your chances of getting gum disease. It should be noted that you still need to brush your teeth to do the lion’s share of protection against gum disease, but beards offer that little bit of extra protection that other people simply do not have.

9. Keeps Your Skin Moist

Shaving opens up the pores in your skin and can also cause cuts on your face that will dry out your skin over time. In the summer and winter, exposed pores create a situation where your skin loses it moisture and can start to flake. When you have a beard, you avoid all of these issues and keep your skin nice and healthy.

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10. Prevents Other Bacterial Infections

When you have a beard, the pores in your skin are naturally protected against any bacteria that may try to get in and cause an infection. Bacteria can come from a variety of sources and has the potential to become extremely dangerous if it has a portal to gain access to your skin. Shaving opens up those portals and allows all of that bacteria to come pouring in. When you have a beard, those portals are closed.

A beard is more than just a cool facial accessory, it is also a life-saving device. With all of the health benefits that beards offer, it is interesting that not more men are growing beards. The next time someone tries to tell you that your beard needs to go, all you need to do is remind them that your beard gives you a longer life and healthier skin. It is always nice to have a scientific way to silence the critics.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via imcreator.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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