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10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More

10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More

We think that in order to get ahead in life, we need to “look out for ourselves,” even be selfish and mean. But is that really true? Could it be that nice people actually get more? Well, yes, they do, and it’s scientifically proven. Here’s how nice people achieve more.

1. They help without expecting something in return.

Adam Grant in Give and Take, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, makes this crystal clear. According to his research, people who give unconditionally—the givers—are the ones who achieve the most. Right after them, rank the people who “look out for themselves” and might even be mean or selfish. These are the “takers.”

Yes, takers come second.

2. They listen.

Marie Forleo, a “Rich, Happy, and Hot” internet entrepreneur, often says that the greatest gift we can ever give to others is our presence.

As she discussed on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, when someone’s talking to you but you’re texting or just thinking about other things, the message you’re sending is that the other person is not worthy of your attention.

The solution? Say “I’m back!” And just like that, your focus will be back to reality. Every color is now more vivid because you’re actually noticing it! Now, you can be there for the other person, and actually help them. Watch Marie explain this technique in her own words:

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Truly nice people are people others can rely upon. And, yes, because of their generosity, they receive 10x their input back in return.

3. They are unexpectedly nice.

Nice people are not just nice in situations when most people are nice—they are nice even in situations where “niceness” is not expected. They’ll listen and you’ll feel heard. They’ll surprise you with their help and ideas.

I felt like that when I met best-selling author Tim Ferriss in person. Even though he was surrounded by tons of people, when he talked to me, I felt as if I was the only person in the room.

And here I am now talking about it. And there are thousands of people just like me praising him. Does Tim get things in return from all this word of mouth? You bet he does.

4. Their generous reputation precedes them.

Truly nice people are known for being nice. For example, even before I met consultant Michael Fishman in his BehaviorCon conference last August (hacking behavior along with best-selling author Ramit Sethi), I knew he was nice. Facebook and Twitter make the world so connected that news just spreads.

Indeed after we met he surprised me by saying “gratitude” for every little thing I did. Then he unexpectedly offered to help me with my book.

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And yes, here I am talking publicly about it. Because you can hardly forget when someone takes care of you.

5. They make others feel good.

When you feel heard, you feel good. When you get help, you feel good. And you just can’t help but like the other person who helped you.

Then, reciprocity kicks in: one of Cialdini’s Principles of Influence. When you get something, you feel like you need to give back in return. You can’t help but do something nice for the person who helped you. And that’s how nice people get even more back in return.

6. They know the difference between being a doormat vs. being a generous giver.

Nice people are not doormats. After all, no one respects doormats. People take advantage of doormats. Few people genuinely help doormats.

Nice people know the boundaries between being generous and being taken advantage of. They do their best to be there for others, but they don’t let them cross the line.

Interestingly, in Give and Take I learned that doormats actually are at the bottom of the achievement scale. So nice people rank first, takers come second, and down at the bottom are the doormats.

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7. They are not just nice with others but they’re nice with themselves too.

So many people are nice with others, only to be extremely self-critical with themselves. They think they’re being honest. They might even complain about “sabotaging” themselves, yet since they are being “honest” they have a good excuse for doing so.

But the truth is that they are using double standards. When they talk negatively to themselves, they are only demotivating themselves from going forward. It’s one thing to say, “I’m so fat, I’ll never lose weight,” and another to say, “My past choices have made me fat, but my new ones will lead me to a better place.” If you want to be a truly nice person, you need to be nice with everyone, including yourself.

8. They don’t make excuses for not doing what they say they want to do.

Since nice people talk nicely to themselves, they are actually encouraging themselves to do the things they want to do. So, say they want to exercise. They won’t come up with excuses about why they can’t do it. Instead, they’ll encourage themselves to figure it out. They might try yoga, take longer walks, or exercise at home for just five minutes.

The result is that they feel empowered. They trust that they can do what it is they want to do. Nothing can stand in their way. And maybe that’s why people who exercise actually make 9% more than everyone else.

So, if you want to write a book, learn cooking, or de-clutter your home, what are you waiting for?

9. They see failure as a stepping stone to success.

When others get demotivated because things didn’t go their way, nice people are already looking for “the next cow.” Nice people know that “No” is a first step to “Yes,” and that failure is a stepping-stone to success. It’s not that they celebrate failure, but they don’t make a big deal about it either.

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And that’s how when others quit, nice people persevere. When others think everything is dark, nice people are confident they’ll hit their goals.

10. They have the power to influence others.

Best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuck once said he devoted a few minutes while he was driving to talking on the phone with people. Now Gary has thousands of followers. This behavior is not scalable to every single follower. Yet, he does anything he can do to help. Even taking advantage of his driving time.

And people appreciate it. They know that Gary is extremely busy, yet he gives them one-on-one time. They are deeply grateful for that, and yes, they convert into lifetime Gary fans.

When Gary releases a new book, or goes on a new venture, guess who is going to champion him? The hundreds or thousands of people who have already benefited by him. Gary is unexpectedly nice, and these fans will support Gary by default, even before reviewing his work.

That’s how influential nice people can be.

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More How to Think Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy 7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More If You Hate Exercise, This Will Probably Change Your Mind

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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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