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10 Things You Don’t Know About Russia

10 Things You Don’t Know About Russia

Russia, the world’s largest nation, has been blessed with natural as well as manmade beauty. Here are 10 strange facts that you might not know about Russia.

1. The Russian Smile Holds Great Meaning and Significance:

In Russia, a smile is something absolutely personal. It is not acceptable to smile at strangers. A shopkeeper or a salesperson will always be found with an absent smile. They only smile at people that they like or want to be friends with, but even then without showing their teeth, which is considered improper. A smiling person is considered to be in a really good mood, and if someone dares to smile without any good reason, they are considered suspicious.

2. A Restaurant in Moscow is Staffed by Twins Only:

When it comes to eating, Russia stands by its uniqueness in restaurants. The Twin Star restaurant in Moscow creates a unique experience for its guests by hiring only twin brothers or sisters. From the host serving you at the table, to the bartender at the bar, both identical twins are identically dressed. Whether you want to have a burger, Thai, European, or Russian food, the distinctive twin scenario will make eating more interesting. The motivation for the owner behind this idea was a 1964 film called Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors.

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3. The Subway System in Moscow is One of the Most Beautiful and Expected to be the World’s Fourth Longest:

Beneath the roads of Moscow, there’s another world of magnificent architecture to discover — the Moscow Metro. The statues, mosaics, and murals are all fascinating. The Moscow subway is one of the most elaborate transport systems. When it first started running on 15th May, 1935, the entire network was seven miles long with 11 stations, all stretching in one line. Now it has 200 stations and is expanding so fast that within the next three years there will be 35 new stops and 75 miles of track — making it the world’s fourth longest.

4. It is a Criminal Offence to Drive Around With a Dirty Car:

Russia’s driving laws state that it is illegal to drive with a dirty car. The dirty car is considered illegal and the driver has to pay a fine, especially if the license plates are dusty or muddy.

5. The Ter Sami Language of the Kola Peninsula is Almost Extinct:

The Ter Sami language was spoken by 450 speakers till the end of the 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, that number was reduced to six. Only 2 elderly people were speaking this language by 2010.

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6. An Emperor of Russia, Peter III, Hanged a Rat for Chewing His Toy Soldier’s Head:

Peter III ruled Russia for 6 months in 1762. In a biography about Peter III, Henri Troyat writes that he loved his toy soldiers so much that he executed a rat that chewed the head of one. For the execution, miniature gallows were constructed and the rat was left hanging for three days in public.

7. There are At Least 15 Secret Cities in Russia, the Names and Locations of Which are Unknown:

A closed city in Russia is a restricted area where only specific authorized persons can enter. It may be a military, scientific, or nuclear establishment or some border area. Some of the cities are freely accessible to Russian citizens, while others demand a permit from citizens as well. Currently, there are 44 publicly acknowledged closed cities, while another 15 or so closed or “secret” cities still exist with publicly unknown names and locations.

8. There is So Much Traffic in Moscow That Rich People Use Ambulances to Get Around:

The traffic conditions in Moscow are so jammed that the rich people hire ambulances to drive them from place to place.

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9. There are Some Weird Do’s and Don’ts That Non-Russians Might Not Know:

Only children or married people can sit at the corner of table. If an unmarried person sits on the edge, they will not get married (or be happily married) for 7 years.

One has to be careful about the number of flowers in a bouquet because bouquets with even numbers of flowers are only for funerals; odd number flowers should be given on happy occasions.

There is a superstition that if someone whistles inside the house, it will result in financial downfall.

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These are some of the very weird (and interesting!) Russian Taboos.

10. Ziferblat is a Place Where Everything You Eat or Drink is Free Except For The Time You Spend:

Ziferblat, meaning “clock face,” is an anti-café that started in September 2011 and now has over 14 branches all around the world. You can comfortably use it as a co-working area or an entertainment venue and can make coffee or cook food. The purpose of Ziferblat is to provide a comfy environment just like home. The owner pays for the space and the customers pay for the time.

Featured photo credit: russia via photopin.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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