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10 Secrets of The Socially Successful

10 Secrets of The Socially Successful

Have you ever attended a social gathering and noticed that one socially successful individual who seems to effortlessly flit from group to group? Or maybe you have a coworker who makes networking seem as easy as an elementary school spelling class (which, I admit, may not have been easy for all). Everyone has that friend who introduces themselves first, has no problem meeting new people, and never seems to be uneasy in any social situation. And if you can’t think of anyone who fits these categories, that friend is most likely you. Congratulations!

In any case, no matter where you fall on the spectrum from shy caterpillar to social butterfly, everyone can integrate these secrets and tips into their life to make interactions easier and become socially successful. But, as it is with most things in life, these techniques are most effective when put into deliberate practice.

1. Be yourself.

It seems simple, but no one wants to meet a clone, a copy of everyone else. The things that make you different are the very things that make you interesting. People with magnetic personalities are people who are comfortable in their own skin. This doesn’t mean that you should be different just for the sake of it. But if your hobbies and traits are naturally different from those of everyone else, embrace that! People enjoy learning about new things. If your interests are similar to what everyone else likes, then you have found things in common and should embrace that as well.

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2. Be genuinely positive. 

People with an optimistic view on life are always welcome in any social setting. A smile is never out of style. Having a positive view on topics is contagious and spreads to others, bringing rays of sunshine to the conversation. However, there is a balance. Just as eternal pessimists can be draining, continual optimism can be equally exhausting and seen as fake.

3. Focus on being interested, not interesting.

Many people mistakenly assume that social success comes from having lists of accomplishments to rattle off, amazing adventures to recount, or a plethora of never-failing jokes. But in reality, you can increase interest in yourself simply by increasing how interested you are in the lives and stories of others! People love to talk about themselves, and love having others around who seem to have a genuine interest in their stories.

4. Build others up. 

The foundation of you becoming socially successful will always lie in how you treat others. Take care to refrain from gossip and cutting sarcasm when meeting new people, as this may leave a biting impression of you in their minds. Learning how to give a proper compliment also goes a long way. People trust someone who says the same thing about them in front of their face that is said behind their back.

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5. Be helpful and dependable.

It seems simple, but if someone needs assistance that you’re able to provide, help them! Giving aid when you’re truly in a position to do so communicates a sincere interest in the welfare of others. Just the thought that you are available when someone may need it is reassuring. However, promises not kept, even those made with good intentions, decrease credibility and trust.

6. Include others.

Going to see the latest movie and only have two people in your car? Have extra tickets to a great upcoming concert? Invite someone who really wants to go or someone from another group of friends. Keeping others in mind, even for simple things like lunch or a movie, lets people know that they are on your mind and that you feel their friendship and company has value. They will undoubtedly return the favor, allowing you to meet new people and remain connected.

7. Don’t forget your manners.

When out and about, remember to introduce yourself! A simple introduction breaks down many of the social nerves and barriers that popular people seem to avoid. And if you have invited friends out with a new group of people, be a good host and make sure to introduce them as well.

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8. Step outside of yourself.

Be sure to take moments for purposeful introspection. Evaluate your self-image and what impression you may be leaving on others. Ask friends or others what impression you give off and what things may inadvertently be affecting your social impression. Traits like a lack of eye contact, crossed arms, mumbling, and others may not be easily diagnosed and worked on unless pointed out by someone outside of yourself. Assessing your social skills shows the areas that need more work on your way to becoming comfortable in all social situations.

9. Make eye contact.

Eye contact helps you come across as more engaged, friendly, and confident. Another benefit is that making eye contact forces you to put some of your mental energy into focusing on other people, which means you have less left over to get stuck in your head and think insecure thoughts. Getting comfortable is something that happens over time and not all at once as you manage the balance between staring and affirming eye contact.

10. Learn how to read body language and social cues. 

While this may seem like a difficult and expert social tactic, it is one that all those who are socially successful employ. Noticing things like mirrored body language when people are interested, folded arms when people are in disagreement or uncomfortable, or knowing how and when to exit a conversation are all tools that make social interaction much easier and smoother. There are many sites on the internet with information in this category.

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In the end, these “secrets” of a social butterfly are great in theory, but only truly effective when put into practice. And although the change does not happen overnight, deliberate effort will complete the metamorphosis from shy caterpillar to social butterfly.

How would you define “socially successful?” Are there any other tips that you have found useful?

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CJ Goulding

CJ Goulding is the Lead Organizer at Natural Leaders Network, building leaders and connections in and between humans.

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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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