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Love Doesn’t Come and Stay for Good. You Have to Learn These Communication Tricks

Love Doesn’t Come and Stay for Good. You Have to Learn These Communication Tricks

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about your romantic relationship to a friend. Ever heard yourself saying things like:

“He just never listens to me!”

“She doesn’t talk to me when she’s angry!”

“I just feel like we argue all the time.”

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Guess what? You might need to develop your communication skills with your significant other.

Nobody Can Get Along with Another Person 100% of the Time

Spending a lot of time with another person increases the possibility that you two will not always agree with each other. Remember, that’s normal. Nobody can get along with another person 100% of the time. But these disagreements can easily turn into arguments if you don’t work on improving your communication skills.

All Relationship Problems Originate with Bad Communication Skills

Having good communication skills increase your chances of having a happy, fulfilling, and successful relationship.[1] If you both work together toward improving your communication skills, your relationship will begin to grow and develop in ways you didn’t think possible before. Remember, all relationship problems originate with bad communication skills.[2]

To get you started, let’s take a look at some of the most common communication pitfalls in relationships and tricks you can use to achieve improved communication skills.

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4 Deadly Communication Pitfalls You Must Avoid

Letting your emotions take over.

When you get into a disagreement with your partner, it can be easy to let anger work its way into the conversation. Susan Heitler, PhD and couples psychologist, says, “The hotter you get, the more likely it is that you’ll race full speed ahead down the criticism and blame road.”[3]

How many times have one of your disagreements turned into you blaming them for something?

Using blaming language.

While talking to your partner, if you begin a statement with “you always”, it sets the conversation up for an argument and makes the listener think you don’t want to work as a team.[4] This is because your partner will automatically become defensive, expecting to be blamed for something.

Listening to respond instead of listening to understand.

If you find yourself thinking of how you’re going to respond to what your partner is saying, you’re far more likely to interrupt them. Interrupting your partner lets them know that you don’t really care about what they have to say. [5] And this obviously won’t end well.

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Avoiding difficult conversations.

Maybe there’s a specific topic that the two of you can never discuss without an argument. You assume that the best thing to do is to avoid the difficult conversations, so you two avoid a heated discussion.

Only 4 Tricks Are Needed To Make A Change

Give yourself a brief moment of silence.

If you feel yourself getting angry or you catch yourself criticizing your partner, take a step back from the conversation. You need a moment to think and maybe even get away from your partner for a few minutes. If neither of you can calm down, consider having the conversation at a later date. Emotions do not allow for healthy communication skills.

Use “I” statements and “we” language instead.

Make your feeling or thoughts clear and present them in a non-critical way by using “I” statements.[6]

Saying something like “I feel” or “I worry” is much better than “you did X”. Also, remind your partner that you view your relationship as a team by using “we” language to be more inclusive.

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Stop interrupting and be aware of the body language.

It’s more than that, though. It’s easy to wait for your turn to speak. Instead, try to really understand what they’re saying.

Paying attention to their body language and facial expressions can help you really understand the point that your partner is trying to make.[7]

Talk about everything. Literally.

Confront the awkward conversations and difficult topics. Having a healthy, long-term relationship means being able to deal with everything together, as a team.

The more of these uncomfortable discussions the two of you can have, the more confident and trusting you’ll feel in your relationship.[8]

In the end, working on improving your communication skills with your partner will give you a much healthier relationship. A relationship where the two of you can focus on growing as individuals and as a team.

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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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

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