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Science Says Polite People Are Less Stressed In Life

Science Says Polite People Are Less Stressed In Life

That barista who greets everyone in the ‘round-the-block line with a smile more invigorating than the coffee, and what seems like every waiter/waitress who seems upset but okay after dropping every plate in their hand push through seemingly stress-free . There is a reason the most polite people seem stress free even in the most trying circumstances, being polite will help bounce some of the naturally occurring negative stimuli out of our mind and contribute to more positive emotional well-being. Being polite can even help you get the most out of life by acting as a stress relief during some of the most stressful (but totally enjoyable) times. From school, to work, to the most terrible travel experience into divine destinations, being polite will reduce discomfort and will make your experiences pest-free to your mind.

School

Going to college can be one of the most stressful times of your youth. It’s many young folks first time moving out, first time by themselves, and their premier onto the adult scene. This added stress can exacerbate underlying mental conditions, which is why most mental issues present themselves between the ages of 18-24. Being a polite person will free our minds from the stress day-to-day aggravations can cause, and that’s a big deal for young folks trying to make it through school. Smiling and holding the door open for the person behind you will help you forget about the one just slammed in your face.

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While school work and being away from your family can be major stressors for freshmen, cohabitation can squeeze even the coolest college kid. Courtly courtesy can keep even the crummiest dirty sock hoarder out of mind, in your room, and an ideal roommate. While it might seem strange to oblige their strange habits, your 15 alarms don’t do much better. Communication and cordial interactions are vital contributors to serene cohabitation (being polite is all it takes), not daily dusting or taping down the middle of the room in a vain attempt to split your 10X20 room into separate kingdoms. Being polite while at school can really save your bum from a whole slew of daily emotional pitfalls, and keep your emotional well-being stable, this is just one example of the tremendous benefits that come when acting with a diplomatic disposition on a regular basis.

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Work

Coping with workplace stress is a difficult transition for any person hacking their way through white collar wastelands, added stress from poor communication and conditions beyond your control (like when the print-shop closes, emails that need returned to you, or weather conditions) can cause your stress to spiral out of control. That stress can affect your performance, your interactions with clients, and your health; stay sweet and avoid that fetid funk that can sink into business interactions, and your mindset. You can get coffee for a co-worker, keep your conversations extremely cordial (avoid cursing, or politely curse), or try to focus on the positive, awesome things your co-workers are doing, and let them know that they are awesome for doing them! Let your clients, know too, your rude manners shouldn’t be the subtext to your customer service. Besides, if you’re staying late to wait for the print-shop to get back to you, or are waiting for some vital emails that need inspected before you leave, you can use your time to teach another co worker about your favorite excel tricks, or you could get a head start on the secretary’s HUGE stack of filing (they would love you forever for that).

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Leisure time

You are the sweetest, kindest little genteel that ever did exist while at work, at school, or with your family and friends, but unless you can maintain that sweet, socially performing facade while under the pressures that might come with leisure activities like travel, playing games, or paintball! Just going for a long drive in the country-side can be super relaxing, but unless you stay calm and polite in the road, it can turn into a road-rage quite quickly if you start aggressively driving, or are unsure about the rules of the road in the area. Those rules can also prevent your politeness from spreading in other parts of the world (especially if you don’t follow the regional rules of what it means to be polite). Taking your leisure time, and enjoying it stress-free is vital for your future well-being. Relax, enjoy your leisure time, and take off into the super polite bliss you are bound to achieve.

Featured photo credit: Calgary Canada Day 2014 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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