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10 Things Highly Empathic People Don’t Do

10 Things Highly Empathic People Don’t Do

Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. In the Urban Dictionary, this translates to “I feel you.” Some people fake empathy, constantly responding to the problems of others with a flippant, “I know exactly what you’re going through,” without actually listening to what parts of the specific experience someone is focusing on. Learn to walk the fine line between empathetic and annoying with these habits highly empathic people don’t have.

1. They’re not closed off to strangers.

It’s so annoying when people are nice to their friends and mean to everyone else. If asshole is your default pose, you need to check yourself before you wiggity wreck yo self. People who act different in public than they do behind closed doors with friends seriously need to understand that you actually are the person you act like in public.

If you have a heroic side and choose not to use it, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re not a hero—you’re a villain. You personally represent everything that’s wrong with this world. Learn about it.

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2. They disregard prejudices.

You can absolutely judge a book by its cover—in fact that’s exactly what covers are meticulously designed for. That advice was only relevant prior to the invention of the printing press. Accept that you are automatically judging people at all times, and recognize that they’re doing the same. Highly empathetic people recognize that anything is possible and, while they may naturally judge a book by its cover, they don’t let that prejudice deter them from finding commonalities.

3. They don’t discount other peoples’ experiences.

Congratulations, that previous act in itself is empathy. Now continue being empathetic by considering how the other person must feel based on who they believe themselves to be, not by whom you believe them to be. A person’s experience, education, and other factors form who they are, and you’d be wise to take that into account when interacting with them.

4. They avoid double-dutch listening.

There’s nothing more annoying that talking to someone who isn’t listening to you. We only comprehend a fraction of the information we receive. When you’re not even focusing, understanding goes way down. Instead of acting like a talking head in the media waiting for your chance to jump into a conversation to push your agenda, take a back seat and actually listen to the other person.

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5. They don’t flake.

Highly empathic people know what it feels like to be stood up, and they go out of their way not to do this to other people. If you’re the type of person who constantly double-books yourself and blows people off, understand they will just eventually stop inviting you. Nobody likes being left out, so stick to your word, or don’t speak.

6. They don’t leave you hanging.

No matter how prepared you are, life happens. Sometimes you have to be late or absent, and you can’t do anything about it. In these situations, a highly empathetic person will provide as much advanced notice as possible. If you have to flake, let people know.

7. They’re more lovers than fighters.

Highly empathetic people communicate—they’re interested in learning the other person’s point of view. Diplomacy is always preferred over violence. Nobody wants to be hit in the face, shot, or stabbed, and it takes a highly empathetic person to apply this to every real life interaction every day of their lives.

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8. They don’t fish for empathy.

Highly empathic people don’t show empathy expecting it in return. You see this all the time in business—customers tell their sob story in hopes of receiving some sort of special treatment. You may have a birthday, funeral, graduation, or some other life-altering event, but there are billions of people on the planet, and what you’re experiencing is no more or less important than anyone else. Shake off that tit-for-tat mentality before you end up forever alone.

9. They don’t mock failures.

Nobody likes to be insulted, but sometimes you may accidentally hurt someone else’s feelings. Be mindful of this and learn to be more encouraging. Just because you predicted someone’s failure doesn’t make you right—it actually makes you an asshole. If you find yourself trying to “prove” things to people so they’ll “see the light” and you can have your “I told you so” moment, you’re doing it wrong. Stop this immediately.

10. They’re not impatient.

Impatience stems from selfishness. Traffic moves slowly sometimes, food takes time to prepare, and nothing is instant. Instead of raging out at everyone, try to understand how the other person feels. The clerk or cashier you’re speaking to isn’t exactly happy to be there either, and they’re very much aware you want to be in and out, get value, etc. We get you’re in a hurry—everyone else is too, and you’re not that important. Sorry you had to find out this way.

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Empathy is a vital trait—it’s the basis of diplomacy, negotiation, and communication in general. Human beings are a hivemind, and communication is how we remain connected to each other and evolve. If you’re not empathetic, you need to be. Otherwise you’ll always remain behind those who are.

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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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