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Are We Spending Too Little Time on Too Many People?

Are We Spending Too Little Time on Too Many People?

Who have you interacted with in the last 24 hours? Coworkers, best friends, family, or facebook friends? Chances are, the people you have spent the majority of your time with are not highly important to you, but rather general acquaintances. Meanwhile, those who matter most to you didn’t have much quality time with you.

Technology is amazing because it allows us to keep up with people we would have otherwise lost track of. However, for the same reason, we interact with people very differently than we used to.

In the past, we wouldn’t connect to so many people

In the past, we interacted with people we could see all the time – our real friends, our family members, and certainly our coworkers. If we wanted to see someone outside of those groups, we had to call them to hear their voice, or physically meet up with them somewhere. And when we did choose to meet up with someone, we were very present during our encounter.

When you were making time for other people, you valued the time with them more and could spend quality time with them.

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If there were people who, as time went by, didn’t really make time for real connections, they would naturally work their way out of your life. It’s natural for relationships to appear and disappear throughout time. If we were to carry people as we moved on our lives, we would naturally let go some of them along the way. It’d look like this:

    Today, connecting with people is almost too easy

    Facebook, emails and text messages allow us to connect with others instantly, even if they are in different countries. And not just one person – group texts allow us to touch base with numerous friends, simultaneously. If you don’t reach out to people via text, all it takes is a quick look at their Facebook status to know what they are doing.

    Yet quick connections tend to be shallow. Think about this, how many of your facebook “friends” have you met in person more than one time? Even though you have no true connection with that person, you know everything about them! That knowledge is meaningless because you aren’t truly connected.

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    As you walk forward in your life, you’ll have more of these shallow connections. While at the time it can feel good, like you’re popular and wanted, they will only hold you back from truly connecting with those in your life who matter. Instead of naturally letting go of some people along your way, you’re carrying way too many of them which becomes a burden to you.

      Connect deeper, not more

      Quality is definitely more important than quantity when it comes to relationships. More connections can really mean more meaningless people taking away valuable time. The key is to make each connection count.

      In the past, 80% of time was spent on people who matter to us. Now we spend that percentage on social media “friends” and text messages.

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        Filter out who is important to you and who is a hindrance

        It may seem cruel to have to categorize and filter your friends, but it’s harsher for you to spend time on people who aren’t that important to you. I talked about the concept of friendship decluttering in my other article: The Harsh but Honest Truth About Friendship Decluttering. Here’s how it works:

        Go through your virtual friends and make a color-coded list. Red should label those people who are bad connections, and even selfish people in real life. Assign this label to the ones who guilt you into time with them. Sort the rest of your “friends” into blue labels (semi-shallow but with potential) and green (the real friends you care about). Get rid of all the red relationships and focus on developing more green.

        Go back to this list again in a few weeks and see if any relationships are still distracting or should be in the red category. If so, delete those people. While it may seem harsh and you may fear they will notice and be upset, the truth is that you have to do what’s best for you and those connections you truly care to cultivate.

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        If someone were to reach out to you, asking why they no longer see your post, be honest: tell them you needed to focus more on your immediate family and friends in order to be the best you possible. Check out this article about how this can make you connect with your true friends: I Deleted 564 Friends On Facebook But I Have Saved 100 Real Life Friendships

        The right people deserve your time

        If you related to what was mentioned in this article, click off and start sorting through your relationships right now. Get rid of relationships you are spending a ton of time of simply because it’s easy. Choose to make more time, and put more effort into, the important connections. You owe it to them and to yourself.

        Featured photo credit: Erik Lucatero via unsplash.com

        More by this author

        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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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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