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How to Talk When Talking Seems Impossible

How to Talk When Talking Seems Impossible

Sometimes we just want to be left alone. When you’re angry, frustrated, or disappointed, you may not feel like chatting about it. If someone does try to talk to you, they’ll probably seem annoying.

It’s tempting to ignore them. You might also say something like “leave me alone,” or “I don’t need you”. These are natural responses to the nagging individual but these could be things that you’d regret saying. Either way, you usually end up inflicting harm when you can’t figure out how to express yourself.

Innocent Words Become Murderers

When couples are dealing with negative emotions, they have a hard time conveying their feelings in a loving manner. It’s not just what you say, but it’s also how you say it. Even if you aren’t angry at your partner, you may unintentionally take a harsh tone with them.

This is completely understandable. When you’re dealing with negative emotions, controlling your expressions and tone of voice is difficult. It’s like inside of you, your willpower is trying hard to fight the negative emotions and really have no room for dealing with people, even though they are only trying to be nice to you.

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    Couples can get caught up in the negativity and forget that this behavior is out of character. The slighted partner may judge their significant other and wonder, “Why are they doing this to me?” What was once a problem for one partner has escalated into a serious communication breakdown.

      When couples don’t learn to express their negative feelings in constructive ways, they can make one another feel unloved. If one member of the couple doesn’t want to open up about feelings, the other may assume that this means that they don’t care for or value them.

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      Words can be like daggers. If one partner say hurtful things, the other may doubt the relationship.

        Talking Isn’t the Only Way Out

        During difficult times, it’s critical for couples to recognize when they’re having trouble dealing with emotions. The struggle is not a reflection of the relationship or the love that they feel for one another.

        Talking may not be the best option during volatile periods, but that doesn’t mean that couples should avoid expressing themselves to one another. There are other ways to explain troubling feelings without hurting your partner. Writing a letter is a great option.

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        You may be thinking that a text message would suffice, but a text will not do in this situation. Text messages are too casual, and require almost no effort. It’s also difficult to accurately capture your tone in a text, which could lead to the same problems as speaking about your feelings.

        Writing a letter demonstrates that you value the relationship and want to make an effort to communicate effectively.

        In Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Gray explains that there are two types of letters you can write to express your feelings:

        1. A letter to tell all your thoughts and feelings
        2. Another letter on how you want to me responded

        After you complete the letter to express your feelings, you may not feel the need to talk about the issue anymore. The first letter is a tool to help you get the jumble of thoughts and emotions onto the page. After you’ve committed the internal turmoil to paper, you may feel better.

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        Your response letter is what you would want your partner to tell you after hearing about your emotions.

        After you’ve written both letters, share them with your partner. Writing these two letters not only lets your partner know how you’re feeling, but it also shows them what you need in order to feel better. Unless you show your partner what you need, they won’t know how to love you more.

        Always Tell, Even If It Seems Difficult

        Keeping your mouth shut is a surefire way to create tension in a relationship, but talking out your thoughts poorly is also damaging. Instead of getting frustrated with your partner when they’re trying to help you, use the letter-writing method to express your feelings and teach your partner how to comfort you.

        By writing out your feelings, you’ll notice decreased tension in your relationship, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been heard. You’ll be able to communicate in a loving way instead of chasing away the people that love you most.

        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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