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If You Have A Niece Who Stays Close To You, Treasure Her

If You Have A Niece Who Stays Close To You, Treasure Her

Being an aunt or an uncle allows you to participate in a unique relationship with your niece. You have more freedom than their parents do which means that you can form a unique bond. Rather than worrying about their nutrition or their grades, you can choose your own path to forming a strong bond with her.

There are plenty of reasons to remain close to your nieces, here are just eight:

She Loves You and Treats You Like a Parent

Having a niece is great because she loves you dearly and treats you like you’re one of her parents. You get to leave an impression on her because she trusts you and looks up to your like she does her own parents.

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Yet, you’re not endowed with the responsibility of making sure she’s brushed her teeth before school. That means you can spoil her when you want to and you can say no when you want to. You’re not her parent, you just look like one.

She Loves You for Who You Are

A niece can love you for who you are. Because you’re not telling her what she can and can’t do, she can be free around you. You can also be free around her. With that kind of relationship, you can love each other unconditionally and appreciate each other for who you are.

She Doesn’t Judge You

As children grow up, they often become very judgmental of their parents. They find it hard to see why their parents make the choices they do. But as your niece, she does not need to judge your decisions. In fact, she may see eye-to-eye with you even when your own children do not which can be a blessing when you’re questioning your own judgement.

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She Will Grow up Quickly

You probably remember the day she was born like yesterday. Look how much she has grown since then. Her life will fly by before your eyes.

Stop and cherish her now so that you can remember those little moments during her big moments later in life.

She’ll Be a Sibling and Friend to your Own Children

A cousin is not just a relation; they are a friend for life. In fact, they can even feel more like siblings.

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Be proactive about inviting your niece into your home so that she can forge bonds with your children. And don’t shy away from bringing her along to that snowboarding trip to Austria. Trips like this help form a strong bond. Remember that your children’s relationships will shape the future of your family. You want that future to be inclusive. Help them form those bonds today by cherishing your nieces.

She’ll Grow Up to Be Your Friend

By adulthood, you’ve come to realize that friends are hard to come by and good friends are even harder to find. But as her aunt or uncle, you have the rare opportunity to be one of her lifelong friends. You can be a good friend to her when she is young and teach her what it means to be a friend.

When she grows up, she’ll become one of your friends, too.

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She’ll Teach You About Parenting

It’s funny how so many of the lessons you learn about parenting will not be from books or other parents. The most important lessons you will learn will come directly from other people’s children.

Having a close relationship with your nieces will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t in a whole new light. You’ll see how parenting techniques truly affect children. But more importantly, you’ll see how important a parent is to a child. That is the biggest parenting lesson you could ever learn.

She’ll Teach You About Family

Nieces are able to put things in perspective for you. When you’re in a feud with your partner, your child or even your parents, their insider knowledge and outsider perspective will remind you how important family is to you.

You don’t get to choose your family. But you do get to choose how close you are with them. If you’re lucky enough to have a niece in your life, then you have something truly special. Cherish your time together when she’s young and you’ll be able to spend the rest of your life enjoying her wonderful company.

Featured photo credit: Björn Erlingur Flóki Björnsson 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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