Advertising
Advertising

We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying

We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying

I clamped my lips tight as I silently tracked the passing miles. We were on our way to a New Year’s Day Resolution Run and, as usual, my friend Christine talked and talked and TALKED – about herself.

She talked about how much training she had been doing. She talked about the extra gym classes she had taken. She changed tactics briefly and talked about her family… and if I remember correctly, she even paused momentarily to ask me a question.

That is Christine. She is both competitive and a talker.

Advertising

This was not news to me. Christine and I went to the same elementary, junior, and senior high school. Although we were not best friends, we did hang around each other. And a good part of the reason I limited my time with her was her tenacious habit of elaborating on her life down to every. last. detail.

Maybe you have a friend like Christine. Or one that clings desperately to you, gossips, steals your best ideas, talks on their cell phone constantly, brags about her Manolo Blahnik shoes and her brilliant kids, calls at supper time every night, or borrows your best sweater and brings it back with a pull in it. Whatever the offense, there comes a time when we consider calling it quits.

But before you pull the plug, here’s some food for thought:

Advertising

1. What Else Does She Bring to the Relationship?

Loyalty? Acceptance? Does she make your laugh so hard you pee yourself? Does she have your back? Can you tell her your deepest secrets and know for sure it’s locked in the bank. I know that what I tell Christine stays with Christine, and that means a lot.

2. Does She Help You Push Your Limits?

Does she encourage you to keep going when you think about quitting? Is she a champion of your skills and talents? Can you freely bounce ideas off her without fear of ridicule? Does she bring out your own competitive streak in a good way? When Christine and I spend time together, we’re doing stuff. Active stuff. And, I’ll admit it. I’m lazy. But with Christine, I will peddle the extra 5 miles, walk faster, and go outside in the freezing cold more often. I’ve done a sprint triathlon, a mud run, and a bunch of 5k runs, and it’s all due to the encouragement and support Christine gives me.

3. Does She Respect Your Boundaries?

Does she insist on getting together even though you desperately need some time alone? Does she allow you to choose the activities equally? Is she upset when you spend time with other friends? Is she just plain nosy? Is she okay if you suddenly have to cancel plans? Christine and I have known each other a long time, and she respects my need to occasionally disconnect or even cancel plans if I am feeling overwhelmed.

Advertising

4. Does Your Friend Keep You In The Real World?

Will she let you know if you are being an ass for no apparent reason? Will she answer honestly when you ask if your house smells like dog (yes, I’ve asked a friend this – and I hope she was honest!)? Does she yank your chain when you’re paying more attention to your cell phone than the parmigiana on your plate?

5. Can You Solve the Problem with Honesty?

Sometimes a simple but direct heart-to-heart-talk (handled lovingly) will make your friend aware of the situation and how much it bugs you. Conversations might be best opened using “I” or the sandwich technique. As in “I’ve decided this is the year I stop lending my books” or “I work so much harder when I’m biking with you, but I feel as if I am always supposed to compete. I prefer when you encourage me to do my personal best.” Or, you could just do what I did. When Christine started jabbering about her 6 mile walk again, I threw myself on her in a big hug, and jokingly remarked, “Oh, I know you’re Superwoman.”

6. Are you Under the Impression That You, as a Friend, Are Without Flaw?

Hahahaha…. Oh. I mean, really? As sanctimonious a friend as I can be, even I’m still aware of the annoying traits I possess. I’m whiny. And as mentioned before, I can be lazy. Combine the two and it’s a wonder Christine doesn’t use a whip to get me going. I can also be quite a grumpy friend without any apparent reason. So, if you are indeed a sterling model of friendship, then read on and make your final decision.

Advertising

Finally, 6 questions to help you process the decision:

  1. Are you still annoyed hours or days after you’ve spent time together?
  2. Does she make you feel unimportant or an after-thought?
  3. Is she constantly taking advantage?
  4. Are you a better person with or without her?
  5. Is her life a hot mess and she’s determined you go down with her?
  6. If your friend were no longer in your life, would you feel a void (answer this question when you are NOT annoyed)

Human nature dictates that we are all going to get annoyed at the people closest to us from time to time. With some it simply happens more frequently than others. A look at the big picture can sometimes remind us why it’s good to stick around.

Featured photo credit: Annoyed/Feliciano Guimarães via flickr.com

More by this author

Sleeping naked 10 Amazing Things You Will Experience When You Sleep Naked We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next