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10 Habits Of Likable And Influential People

10 Habits Of Likable And Influential People

While there are many attributes associated with good leadership, likability is not one that immediately springs to mind. This is an underrated and often undervalued characteristic among individuals in senior roles, primarily because it contrasts with our ingrained image of leaders being dominant and assertive.

Good and sustainable leadership depends on an ability to influence others, however, so that teams share in a specific vision and work towards a common goal. This cannot be achieved successfully by those who rule through fear alone, as people are more inclined to follow an individual who is likable and charming in equal measure. In this respect, likability is one of the key attributes for any ambitious leaders.

So what exactly are the primary habits and traits that distinguish likable people with a capacity for influencing others from other types of people?

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1. They Have a Positive and Infectious Mental Attitude

Cynicism is a natural state for some, especially in the world of work and commercial leadership. From the emotional drain and inconvenience of excessive meetings to the hidden agendas of others, we can easily become suspicious of those around us and cynical about their motivations. It can be easy to give into this, but likable individuals tend to maintain a positive mindset that is infectious and establishes greater levels of morale.

2. They Always Take Positive Lessons from Failure

This positive outlook manifests itself in multiple ways, although it is most obvious in times of adversity. More specifically, likable influencers seek out positive lessons from failure, rather than brooding over their shortcomings and developing feelings of resentment. According to inspirational author Napoleon Hill (who wrote the famous Think and Grow Rich), those with a likable persona are more likely to express gratitude for having gained a measure of wisdom that would not have come without failure.

3. They are Inquisitive

Likable people are good at communications, both in terms of sharing their own ideas and listening to others. So rather than focusing on their own viewpoint and simply waiting for the next opportunity to talk, they listen to your perspective and digest its meaning. This is often manifested by an inquisitive nature and a tendency to ask questions, as this reinforces their interest in what is being said and underlines how they care for others.

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4. The Always Speak in a Considered and Friendly Tone

On a similar note, likable people who are good influencers also tend to speak in a deliberate and confident manner. This immediately gives their voice a pleasing and reassuring sound, whether they are speaking to a single individual or a larger group. Such a tone and communication style also suggests a sense of self-control, which in turn inspires trust from those who are listening.

5. They Maintain Composure at All Times

The working day is full of minor frustrations, as is the wider world around us. From commonplace office time thieves with their drive-by work requests, to the petty rudeness of others, it is easy to become frustrated and lose our composure in front of others. Likable individuals are able to maintain their poise at all times, however, avoiding those unnecessary overreactions and potential confrontations.

6. They are Openminded and Accepting of Change

We have already discussed the impact of cynicism on individuals and those around them, but it is important to note that this also creates a closed mind that is resistant to certain ideas. It also prevents people from interacting with those who are different, denying them the opportunity to experience personal growth. Likable individuals have no such issues, as they retain a positive and open minded attitude that is receptive to change and difference.

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7. They are Able to Suppress Negative Thoughts

While expressive people tend to be honest by nature, this can be detrimental when it comes to interacting with others. While likable individuals are capable of expressing themselves, they also have a sense of self-discipline that enables them to suppress negative thoughts and avoid sharing these with others. This avoids causing unnecessary offence to others, which is crucial to maintaining good morale and productive relationships.

8. They Don’t Seek Attention

There are few characteristics that are more distressing than attention seeking, whether in the workplace or at home. This stems from an underlying desire to be noticed, and achieve notoriety for both positive and negative behavior. Given that this is such an unappealing quality, it should come as no surprise that likable individuals are more likely to avoid attracting attention unless it is for a selfless cause or a hard-earned accomplishment.

9. They Praise Others in a Genuine and Believable Way

While praise is always welcome and an excellent way of improving morale, false praise will create cynicism and mistrust on a large scale. This is where likable people often excel as individuals, as they deliver praise whenever it is deserved, without being excessive or giving the impression of being false. This is an excellent communication skill to have, as you must be able to deliver praise in a believable and genuine tone in order for your comments to be well received.

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10. They Trust Someone Enough to Point Out Their Flaws

On a final note, it is important to reaffirm that likability is not a parlor trick or a facade that can be adopted. Rather than leaders pretending to be likable, they earn this praise because they care about their behavior, reputation and the way in which they are perceived by others. They are also likely to have a close confidante or network of supporters that are entirely honest with them at all times, offering feedback on their flaws and potential areas for improvement.

Featured photo credit: Pepe Pont / Flickr 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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