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10 Steps to Erasing a Tarnished Reputation

10 Steps to Erasing a Tarnished Reputation
    Change is an uphill battle you should be ready to fight.

    I could blindfold myself and throw a veggie dog into a group of strangers, and I know that the person it would hit would be guilty of at least one of the repulsive yet often observed human flaws listed below.

    While we aren’t ever going to sprout wings and be puritanical saints all the time, it’s absolutely imperative that when we notice hideous character flaws in ourselves, we set a goal to change them. I have to set these goals on a daily basis, and though it pains me greatly to stop myself from being shallow, scared or loudmouthed, the effort is changing me as a human. That ability to trump my instincts is like tasting raw power. I feel like it might make me a good grandma, scratch that, aunt who tells it like it is, but with a bit of heart and a heap of learning.

    In 2017, I propose that every human on the planet attempt to kick the next 10 behaviours out of their lives so they can move on to greener, better pastures.

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    1 – Stop doing things to put yourself above others. No matter what car you drive, how much money is in your bank account, or how ridiculously overpriced your underwear is, you are going to be buried under the same dirt or tossed over the same cliff as the rest of us eventually. You can’t take these things with you, and besides, have you ever stopped to ask yourself where they all came from? “Things” can make us all feel good from time to time. However, rubbing those things in someone’s face or using those things to measure your greatness or someone else’s lack thereof is pretty lame. Fine, tote the LV handbag, but maybe tilt your nose a little further south if you can at all help it.

    2 – Stop giving hard times out like candy. Negative energy sucks for everyone it flows through. Running people through hell becomes a hobby for some people who are bored. They create a world of brimstone in which to live. Why get other people involved in your misery by criticizing, abusing, nagging, and making life difficult? If you’re the guy who steals ideas at work, the girl who keeps her kid from seeing his father, the neighbor who leaves trash on his lawn, or the man at the gym who sneezes into the water fountain and doesn’t re-rack weights, stop. Think about your actions and how they impact others. Be mindful, and spend more time spreading light than covering your world in a cloak of darkness and phlegm.

    3 – Remember that you only live once. Acting like you have nine lives doesn’t necessarily turn out in the wash. Take time each day to remember that you only live once, and you’ll find that small things will bother you less and happiness will be your priority. Regardless of your weight, bank account or address, there is beauty in being alive that we should be paying very close attention to. This is pretty hard to do when you’re stressed, drunk, hung-over, anxious or just a career jerk. In short, remove the obstacles that blind you and limit your realization of the short precious time we have on earth and you’ll find that your attitude shifts with very little effort.

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    4 – Stop being a human slug and take some pride in your appearance. Basic self-care includes showers, exercise, nutritionally balanced meals and adequate sleep. These measures will make you a person everyone can stand being around. Make sure your contribution to the world is not your stink, overtired yawns or dirty fingernails, but your fresh face, twinkling eyes and meaningful presence. These will be a perpetual wellspring of happiness for you and a serious attractant to those you meet.

    5 – Evolve. Coaches need coaches. Teachers need teachers. The learned need educating. Outright refusal to learn and grow is vomitesque. Humans are born curious and able to see the other side of each coin if they try. Ditch the selfish attitude and the jealousy, and learn to be happy for other people. Good people try their best to understand where others come from in terms of geography, religion, and personality which in turn helps them to undergo their own process of evolution and personal growth. Always remember that your ride is not the ride of others, and trying to force someone onto your bus of black and white living is annoying, petty and common.

    6 – Pinkies turned up, elbows off the table! Rules, regulations, prim and proper manners…do they all really matter that much in the end? You don’t need to be in a race to be the mature, level headed one at every turn. The Debbie Downer that constantly brings the “that’s dangerous” to every adventurous dreamer in the room sucks. There’s nothing worse than hearing why we should be scared of every activity on the planet. Sameness and consistency shouldn’t always win. Being the pusher of “grow up” steals childhood from kids and playfulness away from life. You might not believe in the magic of Santa, but you’re a real jerk if you’re telling small children that he doesn’t exist! Be playful, believe in magic, and enjoy rubbing spaghetti in someone’s face once in a while.

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    7 – Your pants have been on fire for your entire life. I’m not sure how you’re still alive. Sure, everybody has a few white lies they tell to get by, but when you’ve crafted a foundation of lies as the basis for who you are as a human, it gets old and gross. Lies become unmanageable, and your tall tales get in everyone’s way, including your own. Telling the ugly truth takes far less work than carrying a bag full of fully leaded BS.

    8 – Why pretend to be nice, giving or happy if that’s not who you are? If your mission in life is to channel Bela Lugosi, own it so that the rest of us can stay away from you. It’s really a great thing to see someone own who they are, warts and all. Maybe you’re always going to be the villain. Heck, we need ‘em, so go out and get an Oscar doing it. Just drop the sheep’s robe at the door.

    9 – Stop blaming everyone else for your shortcomings. I’m not the only person on earth who should be admitting on a weekly basis that I’ve screwed up. Owning bad behaviour is part of coming into ourselves, trusting the path we are on and being gracious humans. Having to watch someone squirm through excuses not only takes away their credibility as a full-fledged adult, it also causes serious eye damage to anyone in the room who is trapped rolling theirs backward. Here’s a crafty mantra to battle this problem in 2017: It’s not you, it’s me.

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    10 – This last one is for my doppelgangers and me. Stop reacting in anger and fear to things you don’t understand. You need to take the time to digest where a person is coming from or what their true intentions are before you vow to murder them in a violent fit of anger. Sometimes reading an email thrice works, sometimes asking for clarification works even better. The best you can hope for is to engage in intelligent conversation about the matter, understand, appreciate and let go. Harboring ill will is a bad form of self-poisoning that will stop your heart. Since you only have one of those, I’d suggest making the most of it every single day.

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    Sasha Williams

    Plant Powered Lifestyle Designer

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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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