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This Is What Will Happen When You Start Putting Down Your Phone More

This Is What Will Happen When You Start Putting Down Your Phone More

I have long been interested in the problems associated with excessive smartphone use because we live in a time when our lives are dominated by technology. Smartphones (as well as laptops and tablets) seem to dictate our lives now.

Take a look around in public. Everyone seems to be glued to their smartphones everywhere you look. Many people have forgotten what it feels like to simply be a person and live life in the present.

Back in August 2013, I did an experiment. I turned my smartphone off for one month. That’s right. For one entire month, I was without a smartphone. There was no texting, no phone calls, no mindless internet browsing, no anxiously checking my e-mail every two minutes, and no social media.

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I know what happens when you start putting your smartphone down and I’m happy to share the benefits with you. Here they are:

1. You will initiate small talk on a more consistent basis.

Stand in a line at any place or event with a decent wait time. What do you usually see? You usually see a line of people just standing there mindlessly staring down at their smartphones. They are oblivious to the world around them. They have little awareness of their surroundings. Their only focus is whatever is on that smartphone screen.

This really is a shame because when you think about it, you have to wonder about all the missed opportunities. Who knows what kind of friendships or relationships could be started just by putting your phone away and engaging in simple small talk?

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You will know if you decide to put the phone away and pay attention to your immediate surroundings. You will have no other choice. Without a smartphone, life is boring if you just stand around and don’t talk to people. Without a smartphone to rely upon for ‘entertainment’, you will place evolutionary pressure on yourself to start making small talk with strangers. From there, the possibilities are endless.

2. You will become more observant.

When you allow yourself to be dominated by constant smartphone use, life follows one big pattern. You tend to do the same thing over and over throughout the week. You get up. You go to work. You talk with the same people every day. You go to lunch. You leave work. Maybe you go to the gym or take a class. And then you go to bed and do it all over again. This is reality for many people, especially those who are constantly on their smartphones throughout the day. You don’t really remember the details about your day. You don’t really remember specific people that you come across. It’s all one big blur.

This will change once you start putting your phone down more. Again, you will not be able to rely upon your smartphone as a means of numbing yourself from the rigors of your daily routine. You will be forced to actually look around and gain a deeper understanding of life around you. You will become more observant of people. You will also become more observant of the social situations developing in front of your eyes.

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3. You will give yourself a chance to reset your dopamine levels to “normal”.

It’s very common for people to say that we are “addicted to our smartphones.” But what does this really mean and is this accurate? It’s somewhat true. It’s not so much that we are addicted to our smartphones. In reality, we are addicted to dopamine, the “pleasure chemical” that is released in our brains as a reward mechanism. Simply put, we live in a society where constant access to technology and instant gratification at our fingertips has our collective dopamine levels way out of whack.

Recent research indicates that dopamine causes “seeking behavior.” Our brains are always seeking stimulation- hence, why we are a “click happy generation.” How many times have you found yourself searching on Google or YouTube for something specific only to end up looking at something totally unrelated an hour later. We’ve all been there.

When you make it a habit to put down your phone, you will start to alleviate this extreme seeking behavior. Eliminating the constant clicking, searching, and communicating will enable you to give yourself a chance to reset your dopamine levels to their normal range.

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4. You will relax and be in a good mood more often.

Constant smartphone use throughout the day can take its toll on you. This is especially the case if you make it a long term habit. Constantly looking at a small screen and mindlessly clicking away wears down your brain. Again, this relates back to abnormal stimulation and dopamine release. This habit, that so many of us engage in, adds another element of stress to our lives that is simply unnecessary.

The world is stressful enough. People have jobs. People have personal lives. Stress is inevitable. There is no reason to add to it. Yet, this is exactly what many of us unknowingly do when we do something like check our e-mail inbox ten times just on the elevator ride up to the office.

When you eliminate, or at least drastically cut down on this habit, you give yourself a chance to relax. Suddenly, life doesn’t seem to be moving so fast. There is time to fully enjoy something as simple as going to the grocery store. When you are able to put your phone down and relax, you will give yourself the opportunity to be in a good mood.

Featured photo credit: Pabak Sarkar via flickr.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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