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5 Stages Every Pair Of Best Friends Endures

5 Stages Every Pair Of Best Friends Endures

Where would we be without friendship? Being socially and emotionally connected to other people is part of what gives us purpose in life. The development of a very close friendship, one where we become best friends, is a process. One in which both parties experience a journey of discovery. While the events that unfold over this period will be different for each friendship the steps we go through are the same.

Finding a new bestie is an exciting experience, one where we learn as much about ourselves as we do our new friend. To preserve ourselves, we remember previous friendships and shape our behavior to avoid mistakes we’ve made before.

Some of us are conservative because we’ve been let down in the past but for a true friendship to thrive we must let go at some point and just be ourselves. These are the steps we take in building a beautiful best friendship

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1. “Getting To Know You” Stage

When potential best friends first meet there is no rule book to say that they will immediately hit it off. In fact, I know best friends who were bitter rivals before they ever became comrades. Initially we need to take the time to get to know each other. Then, there is a chance those misguided first impressions will be replaced with a more realistic opinion.

At this point in the friendship we aren’t so comfortable with each other that we just turn up at each other’s homes without warning – we text or call in advance – and we quite possibly bring a little gift with us . But we are learning more about each other and discovering that we actually have quite a lot in common. We initiate outings or friendship dates and talk for hours about things like our families, work, your neighbor arguing at three in the morning – everyday stuff.

2. “Building Trust” Stage

This stage is crucial if this person is to ever become your best friend. This is the time during which we open up about the things in our lives which are most personal to us. The high school secrets we prefer to forget, the affair we had last year, the reason why we got kicked out of college. Everyone’s got their secrets and to make it to the best friend category you will find yourself wanting share, share, share. (On the other hand, you also should be listening).

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Of course, as we pour our hearts out, we open up old wounds leaving ourselves at the mercy of our new best friend to console us. If we do a good job of consoling each other during this outpouring, we are on the way to sealing the deal on our friendship. Now, we have qualified as best buddy ever.

3. “The Adventure” Stage

Now that we are super close, it’s okay to turn up unannounced. Hell, we practically live together at this stage.

This is a time for fun and adventure. Best friends going through the adventure stage like to go out together all the time – often to the detriment of their romantic relationships. They go to dinner, the park, each other’s families, holidaying in Europe, lets not forget shopping – you name it, they’ve been there and they have the photos to prove it.

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There is a great bond between the best friends now as they know each other very well and they’re making memories together everyday. They have learned to trust each other. They feel a sense of loyalty for each other and they know they have a shoulder to cry on when they need one. These are the qualities of a close friendship – one that can last the distance… or does it?

4. “The Breakdown” Stage

It has to happen eventually- someone slips up and lets the cat out of the bag on a secret – or maybe someone leaves the other in a club to find their own way home. Either way, every friendship is tested eventually when someone messes up and does something to hurt the feelings of another.

We are all human after all and sometimes we make mistakes, but when you have been let down by someone you thought you could trust, it can take some time to forgive.

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This is where the friendship is truly tested – where both parties, given the time to reflect must decide whether or not they value the other person enough to try again. No doubt the offender will feel terrible and will be trying desperately to get through to the injured party. Copious amounts of texting and calling will take place until eventually the victim will soften and open discussions.

5. “The Make-Up” Stage

Before making up there must first be a re-hashing of events. This could get messy for the less mature amongst us, in some cases you may need to expect tears and tantrums. But for the more mature duo ,this will involve some over and back of “I felt hurt when you laughed at my chubby ankles, I told you I didn’t like my ankles” followed by “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, you can laugh at my big toes if you want”.

Good communication is key here, talking and listening to each other – that way we reach a conclusion fast and can get back to being best friends again just like before. On making up, the friendship is even closer than before. We come away with a more realistic perspective on the relationship. Things may cool down a little before balance is restored finally.

Steps 4 and 5 may be repeated again throughout the lifetime of any friendship. Friendships are tested over and over because without intending to we are all capable of hurting each other. Only true best friends manage to go the distance despite this.

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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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