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5 Secrets To Success From An Army Ranger

5 Secrets To Success From An Army Ranger

Have you ever met that person that is quiet and subdued then, you get to know them a little more you find out that they are quite the bad ass? Well, I had the opportunity to sit down with a friend a mine, Tom, recently and I asked him about his life as an Army Ranger and what lessons he was able to take with him. Let me briefly pause here to thank all of you who serve or have served in the armed forces. I am truly in awe how you risk your lives for our freedom. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

Okay, back to Tom. As I listened to the stories Tom was telling me, some of which I know I couldn’t do, I couldn’t help but think, ‘man, this is one bad ass dude’. You’d never know it when you meet him, but trust me, he is. As recalled the lessons he had learned, this is what he taught me.

Be Prepared

Tom recounted some of the training he went through and it’s no secret how hard these men and women train, especially at the elite levels of the military. What did make me stop and think is that it’s way more than just the physical training but the mental training.

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Do you take the time to mentally prepare for what you are about to face each day or do you head into battle without a plan? Knowing what I’ve seen throughout my career, many just go with the flow and end up getting wrapped up in the riptides of life. Set yourself up for success and prepare yourself, every day.

Trust

Tom’s life was, literally, in the hands of his brothers as were theirs in his. He explained how deep the level of trust went within the team and part of their preparation was to trust each as though their lives depended on it, because it usually did. Do you trust your preparation and the plans you make or do you doubt yourself and your team? If you have thought through your plan and taken every precaution to ensure your success, you need to trust and go for it.

I’ve seen far too many people get caught up in self-doubt and stop executing on a successful plan. I’m talking about myself here as well. Trust in what you’re training and preparation.

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Don’t Quit

We’ve all hear that you should not quit, but we also know this is easier said than done. Through his training and missions, Tom found out that he had a greater resolve than he thought possible. There were times when he wanted to quit but at first his team wouldn’t let him, then he learned to not allow himself to quit. Over time, a sense of responsibility was instilled in him which would never allow him to quit.

Do you stick with your goals and see them through or do you stop and start and never finish what you started. You owe it to yourself to NEVER GIVE UP – as Winston Churchill said.

Create a Sense of Responsibility

Tom quickly knew and felt a sense of responsibility to his team. He knew that they were only as strong as the weakest link. Because he also knew that the weakest link could mean the difference between life and death, he took his responsibility seriously. He wasn’t about to quit and more than that, he was going to do whatever it took to ensure the success of the team so they all came back alive.

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Thankfully, many of you won’t have to risk your lives, but you will be responsible for the livelihood of others, whether they are your family or you employees and coworkers. Does this sense of responsibility burn inside you to the point where come hell or high water, you too will do whatever it takes?

Take Action

Finally, Tom shared; you just have to take action. Much of the time fear surrounded him. However, he knew if he didn’t take the necessary action he, or his team, may be killed. Are you sitting on the sidelines waiting to make a decision or are you taking the necessary action to do the thing you need and were meant to do? If you are doubting yourself, don’t. If you are doing something of significance you will have fear.

The difference between those that think of doing something great and those that do something great is the action they take. So get out there and take action. YOU ARE WORTH IT!

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Featured photo credit: Elliott Plack 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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