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Heavy Metal Can Comfort You And Make You Calmer, Study Finds

Heavy Metal Can Comfort You And Make You Calmer, Study Finds

Heavy metal music is often touted as frenetic, fast-paced, and irascible music, with modern media eschewing it from the mainstream in favour of pop and rock genres. However, with metal music receiving a bad reputation for being ‘violent’ and nothing more than ‘noise’, the recent research into the genre has revealed some new and potentially intriguing benefits of listening to the genre of music.

The Research

Research conducted by the University of Auckland in Australia has found that listening to ‘extreme’ genres and forms of music – notably heavy metal music – can actually help comfort and emotionally buoy and support people who are feeling emotionally distressed or angry. The study looked into 39 individuals whose regular music tastes contained heavy metal, screamo, punk rock or hardcore musical genres, and aimed to examine their stress levels with relation to being exposed to the music.

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The individuals within the experiment were initiated by taking part in an ‘anger exam’, a 16-part questionnaire that touched upon personal issues and which was designed to make the individuals experience temporary feelings of anger and upset. The participants were then invited to either listen to the extreme music or sit in silence for ten minutes.

“Results showed levels of hostility, irritability, and stress decreased after music was introduced and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt,” Leah Sharman, an honors student at the University of Queensland and co-author of the research, stated.

The Results

The exposure to the music had a surprising effect upon those who chose to listen to the music following the questionnaire – it actually helped calm them down as quickly as sitting in silence did, and while both fans and non-fans of the particular musical genre found their psychological arousal levels heightened, both groups (fans of the genre and non-fans) experienced the heightened levels as a non-angry emotion. In short, they experienced a heightened mental arousal, but listening to the music which contained violent and aggressive overtones and lyrics, did not stimulate that arousal into anger, and there was no aggression inherently in the responses to the music.

“It was interesting that half of the chosen songs contained themes of anger or aggression, with the remainder containing themes like — though not limited to — isolation and sadness,” Sharman commented. “Yet participants reported they used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love, and enhance their well-being. All of the responses indicated that extreme music listeners appear to use their choice of music for positive self-regulatory purpose.”

The extreme music then, it seems, acts as an emotional conduit, allowing the listeners to channel their emotions into a positive state of mind, absorbing the impact of any distressing emotion by validating it, and allowing the listener to regulate their own emotions into a positive baseline.

The Implications

The study seems to buck the trend of blaming aggressive musical genres for aggressive behaviours – in fact, while research over the years has long since linked aggressive genres of music for violent behaviours, due to their links to high-sensation-seeking behaviours and personalities, more recent developing research has been indicating that connection to musical preference influences the music that people find stimulating, relaxing, or soothing.

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Psychological research has long since intimated that large swathes of music correlate to musical behaviours, and while this can be widely regarded as largely true, it cannot stand for subjective taste and preference. If your preference is for rock music, then listening to classical music might not relax you at all, and may frustrate you, despite classical music’s longstanding opinion of being soothing and relaxing.

Sharman and Dingle’s research is an intriguing look into the way music affects our mood responses and behaviours, and while this avenue continues to develop, as often as our relationship to music changes and develops also, it is somewhat of a comfort to know that there is nothing wrong with listening to any of our own personal music preferences. Heavy metal might not be your cup of tea, but at least for some people it’s a relaxing genre which can help relax them and make them happy. Who can say anything wrong with that?

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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