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10 Signs You’re Not As Ethical As You Think

10 Signs You’re Not As Ethical As You Think

We all like to think of ourselves as ethical. Whether it’s at work or when dealing with complete strangers, our ethics are essentially what set us apart from other species. But while you might consider yourself an ethical person – you don’t steal, you always remember to hold the door open for the person behind you – you might not have the squeaky-clean ethical reputation that you like to think you have. Here are 10 signs that your ethics may not be as ironclad as you assume.

1. You’re Not Accountable

No one likes making mistakes, but if you find yourself looking the other way when (rightly) accused of doing something wrong, you’re probably causing someone else to be the fall guy. Not cool! Owning up your oops is better form.

2. You Fudge the Definition of Honesty

While you might never, let’s say, lie to a cop during a deposition, you might be fudging the parameters of honesty on a daily basis. Whether it’s a white lie as to why you were late to work or telling someone that you “missed” their ignored call, dishonesty gets the better of the best of us.

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3. Your Sense of Fairness is Skewed

In general, humans like to think that they make solid judgment calls. But your sense of fairness and equality is skewed by things like your upbringing, your education, even your geographical location. Think about it: when was the last time you thought someone “deserved” something negative, like a demotion or even spilling a cup of coffee on their shirt? If you see undue mishaps that befall other people to be a good thing, your sense of fairness may be off.

4. You Expect the Worst

When you’re ethical yourself, you hope that others maintain those same high standards. However, consistently expecting the worst – especially without fair reason – could be considered itself unethical, particularly if that mistrust causes you do unethical things, such as installing spyware on a spouse’s phone, for instance.

5. Your Thoughts Don’t Always Become Actions

“I should volunteer more often.” It’s an ethical thought, but without action those ethics stay firmly entrenched in your head. When your good thoughts don’t become ethical actions, can you still be considered an ethical person? Ethics are about a commitment to actively pursuing what’s right, so without the follow through your thoughts alone aren’t enough to cement your status as a morally upstanding person.

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6. You Don’t Care

While ethics dictate your behavior, if you simply don’t care about how those actions affect other people, your behavior can become unethical. Demonstrating compassion to all means working toward the greater good, so simply taking an “I don’t care” approach – even when you’re technically being ethical – could defy the purpose of ethics in general.

7. Your Communication is Lacking

Communication is one of the most important facets of ethical behavior. We’ve all plead a bad connection when we didn’t want to talk to someone on the phone, or made up an excuse about why we couldn’t return a friendly email. But while it might seem like no big deal, that blip in communication can put a strain on relationships, and the lying won’t help your ethical scorecard.

8. You Let Someone Else Take Responsibility

Blaming a slipup at work on another person may seem like a knee-jerk reaction to avoid a negative outcome, but it can seriously affect the person who then has to take the responsibility. An ethical person takes responsibility seriously.

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9. You Don’t Reward Positive Qualities

Whether it’s loyalty in a friend or honesty in a partner, remember that some positive qualities can be a double-edge sword. Even if someone’s positive qualities affect you negatively – your spouse telling you that, yes, you do look fat in that shirt – they should be rewarded and most importantly, reciprocated.

10. You Overpromise and Underdeliver

It’s fun to be the yes-person, who can always promise the world. Unfortunately, that world can come crashing down when it’s impossible to follow through on those promises with real delivery. Instead, tempering promises can help you offer realistic and ethical expectations as you remain aligned with your own ability to perform and deliver.

Even if you consider yourself to be highly ethical, you may be overlooking some of these relatively minor character traits in your self-assessment. Your values, morals, influences and even atmosphere can dictate the way you act, communicate and respond to people and situations. To truly consider yourself an ethical person, you’ll need to examine your thoughts and actions and see how outside influences are affecting the way you interact with others – and with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Got ethics? via shutterstock.com

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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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