Advertising
Advertising

5 Common Habits That Actually Ruin Your Relationship

5 Common Habits That Actually Ruin Your Relationship

Have you ever wondered why your romantic relationships never seem quite as joyful and intimate as you would like? Many of us tend to think that as long as we choose the right partner, everything else will fall into place. However, people in the best relationships know that it takes conscious effort to avoid falling into a rut. Take a look at this list of common relationship-wrecking habits and start taking a new approach to your partner today.

Bad Habit #1: Boring conversations and tired dialogue

Everyone likes to think that their partner cares about their day, so questions like “How was work?” tend to become a staple of most couples’ conversations. Unfortunately, this gets old fast. Instead of asking the same old questions, why not try a more original approach such as “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today?” or “What have you been reading lately?”

Advertising

Bad Habit #2: Failing to express your needs

In an ideal world, our partners would be able to read our minds and grant our every wish without prompting. In reality, it is up to you to let your significant other know what you need from them, whether it’s reassurance about your appearance or a few more hugs every evening.[1] Just because you have to provide a bit of guidance doesn’t mean that the reward is any less valuable. Never expect your partner to be psychic, as they will only resent you when inevitably they fail to meet your needs and you become irritated as a result.

Advertising

Bad Habit #3: Failing to plan for serious discussions

Charging into a sensitive conversation without properly considering the points you wish to make is a recipe for disaster, tension, and prolonged conflict. Instead, try writing down your thoughts beforehand.[2] This will help you remain calm even in the face of difficult conversations and will improve the quality of communication between you and your partner. Journaling about your emotions or just writing them down as a list can help you remain focused on the problem at hand rather than taking your sadness, anger or jealousy out on the other person.

Advertising

Bad Habit #4: Trying hard to solve the conflicts before sleep

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t let the sun set on an argument.” Whilst this piece of advice is well-intentioned, the truth is that many arguments between couples often seem much more manageable after both people have had a good night’s sleep. When you find yourself snapping at your partner after a long day’s work or fighting over a relatively trivial issue in the evening, suggest that you both go to bed and resolve the matter in the morning.

Bad Habit #5: Speaking ill of your partner behind their back

It can be tempting to talk to your friends whenever your partner causes you stress. If you are in an abusive relationship or are concerned about your partner’s mental health, reaching out can be the most appropriate course of action. However, (if you aren’t in an abusive relationship) as a general rule, you should be talking about your relationship problems with your partner rather than other people[3]. This is because badmouthing your partner lessens the respect you have for them. You are unlikely to feel positive about your relationship if you spend a lot of time complaining about it.

These five bad habits can quickly undermine a relationship, but they are easy to overcome once you commit to increasing your self-awareness and examining how you behave towards your partner. Relationships are not always easy, but if you are prepared to put in some work on a regular basis you will reap numerous rewards including greater intimacy and mutual understanding.

Advertising

Reference

More by this author

Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

30 Ways To Treat Yourself No Matter What Focus On Yourself, Because Most Of The Time No One Really Cares 3 Things To Give Up If You Want To Take Control Of Your Life All You Have to Do to Sleep Better How Social Media Is Making You Feel Bad about Yourself Every Day

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next