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The Phrase You Should Never Say That Makes People Turn Away From You

The Phrase You Should Never Say That Makes People Turn Away From You

“Yes…but” is a common phrase used by many people, however, it should readily be avoided. This phrase is often used to help make criticism sound more palatable. However, as it is used so frequently it often has an adverse reaction. Many of us switch off as soon as we hear these two words. “Yes…but” also gives the impression that a person is not truly listening. It sounds like they are dismissing what you are saying before you have even said it. Someone who is truly attentive to what you are saying will listen first and save their opinion for later.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways this phrase is used:

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The break up

When you are in a relationship you may find yourself asking your partner: Are we good together? The last thing that you would like to hear is: “Yes…but.” If you get this reaction you are likely to assume that your partner finds faults in your relationship and is not entirely sure that you should be together.

The backhanded compliment

Many of you will at some point ask people for reassurance. For example, you may ask our friend: Do I look good? If your friend replies: “Yes…but,” you are likely to take this as a no. You may feel that they do not entirely approve of the way you look but are just saying yes to be polite. The “but” implies that they see something they do not like in the way you look.

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The invitation refusal

When you host a party or simply have a few friends around for drinks you will ask them: Would you like to come? If you get the response “Yes…but” you are likely to take this as an excuse. It may seem to you like your friend is trying to get out of coming to your event.

Ask for assistance

Often you reach out and ask someone for help. If you ask: “Can you please help me?” and are met by the response: “Yes…but” you are likely to be offended. You are likely to take this as a no and feel like the person who you have asked for assistance does not really want to help. Stating yes at the beginning does not make the refusal to help sound any better.

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Lack of support

You may find that sometimes you seek out reassurance and support from friends or family. You may ask them: Aren’t I right? The last thing you want to hear is: “Yes…but.” If you hear this phrase you may think that the person who uttered it does not want to back you up and support you.

Lack of approval

You tend to go about your daily chores independently but sometimes you would like to know if you are doing a good job. You ask the question: Am I doing a good job? Someone responds: “Yes…but.” This is obviously not the answer you were looking for. You were in search of approval and instead you got a disguised lecture.

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Rejection

You may go out on a limb and ask someone: Would you like to join me? If you get the answer: “Yes…but” you are likely to feel rejected. You may assume that they are trying to get out of joining you and are simply saying yes to cover it up.

Lack of sympathy

You may not be feeling well and notice that your partner or friend does not seem to be as concerned or sympathetic as you expected them to be. You confront them: Aren’t you worried? They answer: “Yes…but” and immediately you feel like they are not truly concerned.

Lack of enthusiasm about your success

You achieve a momentous goal or do something you are really proud of achieving. You find that your friend does not seem to be very enthusiastic about your success. You ask them: Aren’t you happy for me? You hear the words: “Yes…but” and you immediately feel that your suspicions were correct. You conclude they are not genuinely happy and are just saying the yes bit to be nice; the “but” part is all that really counts.

The disguised put down

Sometimes people use the phrase “Yes…but” to disguise their criticism. For example, you may ask someone if you are doing a good job and they reply: “Yes…but”. In truth what they are saying is no but they are simply saying it in a way that makes their put down less obvious. In short, “Yes…but” is a phrase that should fiercely be avoided. It is often interpreted negatively and leaves the person who hears these words feeling badly.

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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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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