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Study Finds People Who Show Their True Selves At Work Are Happier And More Productive

Study Finds People Who Show Their True Selves At Work Are Happier And More Productive

A recent study has shown that the more people show their true selves at work, the happier and more productive they’ll be.

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou cans’t not be false to any man”. — William Shakespeare, Hamlet

In what is claimed to be the first causal evidence showing that workplace happiness does in fact matter, the study was undertaken by researchers over at the Social Market Foundation and the University of Warwick’s Center for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy in a bid to understand the happy-productive worker.

The research included four different experiments and over 700 participants. The experiments involved showing random individuals either a 10-minute comedy clip or providing them with snacks and drinks. This was then followed up by a discussion to decide whether the “happiness shocks” (referred to in the report) had a positive impact on the participants.

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According to Fortune, other participants were asked to discuss recent events in their lives, such as family tragedies, so that researchers could determine whether the lower levels of happiness could be associated with low productivity.

The results showed that those that were treated to a funny video or treats had an average increase of around 12% in their productivity –  even going as far as reaching 20% in some. The study also found that there was a link between unhappiness and low productivity in those that discussed less-happier experiences – that could have a lasting effect of up to around 2 years.

Pair this up with the American Psychological Association’s 2008 “Authentic Personality” report that determined whether “authenticity is related to well-being”. The results clearly show that there IS a direct line between being yourself with being happy and productive.

With these studies in mind, you might be wondering what are some of the things that you can do to stay happy – and therefore productive – at work. Here are some great tips.

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Know your strengths, own your strengths

Once you know your own strengths in your profession, you can go ahead crafting them in an effort to own them. By knowing your capabilities, you will reduce the risk of self-doubt. Instead of thinking whether you’re able to do a designated task, you’ll be positively and assuredly able to know that you can do it.

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    Image via Paramount Studios

    According to Marcus Buckingham and LeanIn, there are four key signs to recognizing your strengths:

    • Success – This is the power of feeling in control and effective when doing the task at hand.
    • Instinct – This is the feeling of looking forward to doing the task because you’re aware and confident you can do it.
    • Growth – Knowing that the activity will help you to be focused and remain inquisitive.
    • Needs – Whether the task has knocked you out or not, you still feel fulfilled and have a sense of achievement.

    Don’t always aim to please

    By aiming to please, you’re instantly going against your natural instinct because you’re reaching out to be how someone else wants you to be. Whilst there are times when conforming for the greater good is more ideal in the situation, remember to make sure you’re not always aiming to please.

    It’s okay for people to disagree with your opinion from time to time – it’s your opinion, not theirs. Having an opinion means you have a voice. Even if people decide not to listen, you will ultimately feel proud that you at least spoke your mind and shared your feelings. Don’t be brash about it. Be sure to respect other people’s opinions and even company culture, but don’t be afraid to share your thoughts.

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      Image via Beyonce/Columbia Records

      The folks over at Game-Changer believe that true innovators don’t have a culture that aims to please the boss, and that employee freedom and responsibility go together:

      “The main point is people need freedom, support and challenge to make innovation happen; not to think twice about expressing themselves freely because they fear getting punished. Put simply, if you are afraid to say what you really think in a meeting, you are not free. You are a corporate slave.”

      Reflect on your values and who you are as a person

      To know yourself, you need to find out and realize what it is you are and what you stand for. This is not something that comes easy to many people, and can take years for people to properly figure out. Think of it as a stepping stone. Take the time to jump from one stone to another, learning another value of yours one step at a time.

      An easy way to start figuring your values out is to follow Colin Hile’s 5-step exercise on identifying what your core values are by applying contemplation, choice, and commitment.

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      If all else fails, just remember this, courtesy of RuPaul:

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        image via Logo TV

        Ultimately, if you’re not being yourself then you’re not going to be your most productive self. By figuring out what you stand for and taking steps on improving your situation, you will not only find happiness at work and life, but also boost your productivity.

        Featured photo credit: Rawpixel.com via shutterstock.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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