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How to Improve Your Relationships With Those Surrounding You

How to Improve Your Relationships With Those Surrounding You

A key part human existence is the ability to build meaningful relationships over the years. There will be points in your life where you encounter hardships, betrayals, or disappointments. It happens sometimes with friendships, with family, co-workers, and just about any other group. How you react to and execute decisions really has an impact on the result. It is truly about learning to channel your own emotions, feelings, perceptions, and energies to better harness the law of attraction that influences our ability to move forward.

So, how can the “law of attraction” be explained? Everything you think about on a regular basis in your mind translates to flows of energies. According to Wikipedia, the law of attraction is the name given to the maxim “like attracts like,” which in new thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. This definition is subject to objection, but the philosophy can be traced back to ancient texts and different religions (Hermeticism, New England transcendentalism, Bible and Hinduism).

The first mentions of the law of attraction in the form of what we think or wish upon the universe can be found in beginnings of human civilization. Below is a list of the thinkers, philosophers, and proponents that echoed the so-called theory:

  • “Likes tend toward likes.” — Greek Philosopher Plato
  • “We are all the ephemeral forms of a consciousness greater than ourselves.” — Philosopher V. Stenger´s paper Cosmic Mind
  • “Thought vibration or the law of attraction in the thought world.” — William Walker Atkinson
  • “…Positive thinking is a strong and consistent predictor of life satisfaction.” — Ji Young Jung Yonsei Medical Journal Paper

So, basically everything that we think about exerts an influence upon us. One of the first pillars to improving any situation — in particular, getting rid of toxic friendships or relationships — is acknowledging the problem. The other difficult task to master is not making excuses and instead taking action to remedy the problem.

How to Execute These Ten Golden Relationship Rules

Keep in mind that this recommended list is by no means definitive or tantamount to 10 commandments for relationships to work perfectly (source: UK Cupid).

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  1. Love each other.
  2. Open lines of communication.
  3. Respect for each other.
  4. Honesty is the best policy.
  5. Sacrifices.
  6. Compromising.
  7. Conflict resolution.
  8. Give space when needed.
  9. Maintain the element of surprise.
  10. Remind the other person why you chose them.

Independent of your background, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or any other factor, everything should come down to how much you love each other. This feeling or sentiment is recognized in any four corners of the globe. In addition, the lines of communication are crucial and it is better to maintain a high degree of transparency to build everlasting trust.

The third point is one of the essential, if not the most important, aspects of a relationship: respect. Without this, no relationship of any kind can really evolve in a healthy manner. By extension, honesty goes hand in hand with open lines of communication and it is better to tell the truth.

When you give up something, no matter the cost or worth, you are building a lifetime partnership. This opens a smooth transition to the step of compromising and making exchanges that satisfy both parties invested in the relationship.

Nevertheless, conflicts will occur at any point of the relationship. Conflicts sometimes show up in the early phases or at a later stage when getting to know someone. So it is best when a tense argument erupts to have each person walk away and reconvene when moods are settled down. There is nothing worse than saying fowl or mean things in the heat of the moment — you will regret it later. Think long and hard before uttering painful words at the other person.

Chances are, if you have reached item eight on the list, that it is easier from there onward. Co-existing with a lifelong partner requires a lot of work and a sense of renewing the relationship, so allow for the other person to engage in separate activities with others. This helps remove saturation and a sense of routine or boredom with each other.

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Whenever appropriate, plan beyond traditional relationship holidays like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary celebration. Sure you want to keep those days in mind, yet leave plenty of room for spontaneous events. This helps build a sense of adventure and timeliness for any relationship. Remind each other in reasonable amounts why you are with each other in the first place.

Here is a visual graphic to recap how to keep relationships fresh.

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    Five Ways to Maintain Healthy Friendships

    One of the most difficult things to do is to get rid of negative influences. We know deep down when a friend or an acquaintance brings trouble or drama into our lives. Sometimes, we have to clean out our closets to have a fresh start.

    Remember when trying to make new friends or maintain existing ones you must accept that not all friendships will be perfect or perhaps even last. People come and go, so nothing is permanent in this life. It is cruel to say, but if you look at the big picture, you will realize which people make a difference in your life.

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    Here are five helpful tips asserted by Psychology Today to maintain long-term friendships:

    1. Be honest.
    2. Repair misattunements.
    3. Make time and who appreciation.
    4. Alter your expectations and do not make assumptions
    5. Choose compassion over cynicism.

    Some of these tips overlap with the good practices of maintaining a relationship. In a nutshell, be sincere with your lifelong or best friend. If there was or is a falling out, remember we all make mistakes and we must learn to forgive.

    If you are friends with people who have existing relationships or are married, make time to meet up. Just because you have settled down does not mean your friends are forgotten forever. Agree with your partner and make time in your busy schedule to do something with your own friends so you reinforce those bonds of friendships.

    The way your friends act is beyond your control. Give up the idea of reshaping people — not everyone evolves in the same fashion you do. Appreciate who they are and how they came into your life. Last, and not the very least, give compassion a priority over cynicism. It has been show that from as young as the age of two, people come to enjoy seeing others getting help. Compassion is its own reward, and when you share this onto others, you will associate with people who share those same values and bring joy to your life.

    Takeaways and Conclusions

    When you are surrounded by healthy friendships and a stable relationship, everything comes together. When you are around likeminded people who share the same compassionate views and principles, it becomes a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

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    When a relationship is based on superficiality or some inherent material interest, things will result in failure. None of these tips for friendships or golden rules for relationships is the perfect remedy to fixing everything wrong with your surroundings. It is a guide to encourage you to reflect, to become more self-aware of your purpose, and to think about what role certain forces govern in your life. We all must come to grips with managing the good and the bad aspects on this road of life.

    Sometimes, we will come to know solitude and isolation. We all know that sinking feeling. It is really about knowing who you are, learning to be comfortable with yourself, choosing friendships and relationships carefully, and finding your calling.

    Featured photo credit: Felipe Bastos via flickr.com

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    Anthony Carranza

    Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

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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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