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5 Reasons Why Leaders Need to Stimulate Their Vocabulary Now

5 Reasons Why Leaders Need to Stimulate Their Vocabulary Now

There is a reason why we crave the positive. There’s a reason why the words we use matter in our every day lives. As we know, the world can be a very hard and gloomy place. It is full of violence, hatred, and dishonesty.

In spite of everything that tries to bring us down, we still persevere through adversity and confusion. Many of us are unable to move forward without the guidance of the people we trust most – our leaders. During times of trouble and unrest, we look to the men and women whose job it is to calm our fears to provide answers so that we might understand and accept the events as they have unfolded.

Not every leader has a world stage on which to preach to the masses, but every one of us is a leader in some way, shape, or form. That is why it is vital for us to be aware of the words we use, regardless if we have a title or not.

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Our minds are forever etched with the images we see daily and yet we forget the power of our words.

It’s time we start arousing people’s souls once again. It’s time to say what must be said. It’s time to move mankind forward.

Words evoke emotion.  

We cannot help but feel connected to one another when we allow the words shared to mean something. Words can leave us heartbroken to the ones that provide a small miracle. Becoming immune to words like, “Thank you” or “Please, help me” do not aid our hearts if the words are insincere or fake. Throughout time, being human has always been communicated through words. It has allowed us to be vulnerable, when push came to shove. Too often, we are have words left unsaid because we were afraid to tell people how we really feel.

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Words create action.

If we set on a course for change, then any movement we take will not happen without a few inspiring words. Our responses could be to do nothing, or they could stimulate such a reaction that momentum becomes apparent as we gather others along the way. NO plan comes to fruition without a few choice words heard by even just one person. The world does not become different with thought alone. In order for true change to occur, we must do something. Words spark creativity and drive what would not have occurred otherwise.

Words encourage.  

Our soul is exhilarated with positive and supportive language. Nothing will ever be as important as believing in someone else. Words convey that message best. Choosing to focus on potential, good qualities, and success will enhance further beneficial behavior. Words allow us to let go of what we must, while still showing us a different way to see something else. In the moments when we want to quit the most, it will always be the words of praise… the words that inspire… and the words that trigger a reaction which instills us with the will to keep going.

Words guide us.

We may not have all of the answers or understand every situation, but when the right words put us a little more at ease or somehow comfort us, we begin to allow those words to show us what to do next. Only the right words will caution us to forgo actions that we will regret later, while another set of words will instruct us how to improve and correct what went wrong. The vocabulary we choose can insight riots or it can call for peace.

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Words give us hope.  

Without hope, words are meaningless. They assume responsibility for the emotion carried in them while turning that emotion into something to believe in. They show us a path, or give us direction, when we have none. They remind us of the good things in this world, yet also remind us that not all things are good. These words restore faith and trust where it was lost and forgotten. They create optimism and minimize fear.

Conclusion

Some of us may still be waiting for someone else to take the helm and provide us with those words that lead us in every way I just described above. Being a leader does not come with a title, it is bestowed upon each and every one of us. It is our right as humans to assume the responsibility and teach others why every inspiring word matters. Every word — whether written or spoken — has a purpose. Our perception of each word is vital to invoking change, promoting togetherness, and the survival of us all.

The connection we feel to one another, regardless of the situation, will always begin with the choices we make – and that includes the way we talk to one another.

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“We will never change our culture until we change our vocabulary.”

It’s time to start speaking up and become accountable for our lives, as well as the lives of others. Using the right words, change becomes more than just a ripple, it grows into a wave that is unstoppable.  However, it must have a beginning.  It begins with one voice – just one.

Featured photo credit: Moritz Schmidt via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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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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