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Shut Up And Listen To This Carefully

Shut Up And Listen To This Carefully

Think about the last time you confided in a friend. Did they understand your thoughts and gave you comfort just by simply listening to your worries and being there for you? Listening looks easy, yet hard to master. Because speaking is often more desirable than listening, and our goal is usually to persuade the other to understand and resonate with our thoughts (even doing it unintentionally).

Speaking is often more desirable than listening, and our goal is usually to persuade the other to understand, and resonate with our thoughts (sometimes even unintentionally). Even though speaking well is often praised and recognised by the public, listening is, in fact, a very important element in good communication. It creates better responses and clarifies conversations. Also, if there are no listeners, there won’t be any speakers.

We compiled 5 books to help you to be a better listener, be it comforting a friend, going to a lecture, or understanding a new concept, these books will help you to minimise information loss from communication.

The Good Listener by James E. Sullivan

    This little book is written by a priest who has to deal with hurt people every day, pointing out how our poor listening hurts others (often unintentionally), and how much we can heal a person just by listening and understanding their feelings.

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    The book gives suggestions on how we can improve our listening and how we can share so the other will understand us better. Even so, do not expect this to be a tool book as you will not become a great listener just by following 5 steps, instead, it is about being aware and learning to walk away from our selfish desire to be listened to. This book is recommended if you are someone working in the field of counselling, or anyone who wants to build a deeper and stronger relationship with others.

    Reading Duration: 1hr 59mins

    Get The Good Listener from Amazon at $10.95

    Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All by Bernard T. Ferrari

      Ferrari reveals how to turn a tin ear into a platinum ear in this book because poor listening can lead to poor business decisions in organisations. The author suggests that the skills and habits of a good listener can be learned and taught, in this book he offers a step-by-step guide to turn readers into an active listener.

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      In the book Power Listening, the author focuses on corporate listening instead of peer-to-peer and interpersonal listening. This book is great for anyone who facilitates or leads groups through decision and design. By identifying the cause of bad corporate listening, readers are able to follow the guide to effective listening.

      Reading Duration: 4hrs 17mins

      Get Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All from Amazon at $32.99

      The Lost Art Of Listening by Michael P Nichols 

        What is it that keeps so many of us from really listening? Nichols answers the question in the book and frames listening as an active art, something we need practices to transform passive reception to real hearing. The book is filled with vivid examples that demonstrate easy-to-learn techniques for becoming a better listener. The book is embedded with empathic listening, a listening technique enabling us to break through misunderstandings and conflict in our relationships. “Listening isn’t a need we have; it’s a gift we give.”

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        Reading Duration: 6hrs 29mins

        Get The Lost Art Of Listening from Amazon at $7.99

        Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston

          The first make-or-break step in persuading anyone to do anything is getting them to hear you out. This book is about listening and giving responses, it emphasises that everyone wants to feel “felt”, and only little appropriate responses can achieve this. Just Listen is a practical how-to guide to becoming a better face-to-face communicator. It reveals how to make a powerful and positive first impression, talk an angry or aggressive person away from an unproductive reaction, and more. If you deal with difficult people around you, this is a must-read for you to not only understand them but also have them felt understood.

          Reading Duration: 5hrs 17mins

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          Get Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone from Amazon at $14.19

          Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson 

            Verbal Judo is a martial art that can show you how to be better prepared for every verbal encounter, including listening and speaking more effectively and engaging people with empathy. The book is written in a conversational style, with real-world examples and tips for controlling your own emotions when you feel verbally attacked.

            “The other person will believe you’re trying to understand. Whether you really are interested is irrelevant.” Someone might disagree with this, yet it is powerful in the listener’s mind because we all know at certain times, all we need is an ear from a friend instead of theories and advice.

            Reading Duration: 4hrs 37mins

            Get Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion from Amazon at $9.48

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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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