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13 Things Only Compassionate People Would Understand

13 Things Only Compassionate People Would Understand

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

You probably know several compassionate people. How come they act in such a loving, caring way towards others? What is their secret and can we get inside the mindset of a compassionate person? Here are 13 things they do without even thinking about it.

1. They do not think that money is so important

Studies show that the more money people make, the less compassionate and generous they become. They will always think twice about giving small change to a beggar. A compassionate person will do this spontaneously. It is interesting to note that the word ’get’ has always been used more in the written language than the word ‘give’ in America since 1800.

2. They expect nothing in return

 “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” – Samuel Johnson

True acts of compassion mean that they will give a member of their family $50 without expecting any favors in return. Most people would immediately start thinking about how this could be repaid, even in kind. The great thing about showing compassion is that there is a sort of hidden bonus. Compassionate people experience a release of the hormone oxytocin when they do an act of kindness. They are usually rewarded with healthier and happier lives and it often costs nothing at all!

3. They are great listeners

They are prepared to listen and hear out a person even though they may not have a ready solution. The real compassion is allowing a person to vent their feelings, rage and frustration. Having a sympathetic ear is very important for them and helps to alleviate their suffering, rather than keeping it all bottled up inside. Being compassionate also means giving the person their full attention instead of waiting for a pause when they can jump in and air their own views. This is one of the challenges of being an active listener.

4. They are prepared to give negative feedback

Showing empathy and compassion also means being able to tell a person that they need to try harder or make a greater effort at work. Not an easy thing to do. The compassionate person can do this by asking questions which will help the person to discover what went wrong. A typical one would be, “What went wrong with the plan?” or “What were the difficulties you had not envisaged?” It is always a good idea to start with positive feedback which should outnumber the criticism by about 5 to 1.

5. They are able to find commonality with others

Experiments have actually shown that when people feel that they have more in common with each other, they become more compassionate. It could be thinking that the person you meet is seeking happiness and has known sadness, just like you. It could be more banal such as liking the same local restaurant, following the same football team or tapping to music with the same rhythm. Commonality increases compassion that people may feel for each other and helps them to reach out to help. David DeSteno of Northeastern University has conducted some interesting research on this.

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6. They want to share their knowledge

They never keep their knowledge, experience and wisdom to themselves. They are prepared to teach others to learn from their expertise. That can empower people to do better, go further and develop, whether in the workplace or in the home. Truly sharing without expecting anything in return is a marvelous quality.

7. They are emotionally intelligent

When you have a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), you are able to picture and almost feel what another person is suffering or lacking. This is what we call emotional intelligence and is a key factor in almost every type of human relationship. Compassionate people have a high EQ because they are mainly more self-aware of their actions and can also empathize much more effectively. If you have a high EQ, you are able to navigate life much more successfully.

8. They notice people in need

In Daniel Goleman’s TED talk, he tells the story of how most people are so self absorbed that they live in an urban trance and fail to notice or act when people are in need. He was in the subway and noticed a man slumped on the steps. There were hundreds of people stepping over him. It was only when Goleman acted and offered to help the man, that many other people stopped too and offered food and help to this person who had fainted because of starvation. Compassionate people, like Goleman, will always be the first to act and lead the way.

9. They practice self-compassion first

Compassionate people are experts in accepting their own pain, suffering and loss. They are never too hard on themselves and hope that by accepting their own shortcomings and failures, they can be more serene. This is an essential element in self awareness too. Compassionate people learn to be more caring towards others when they practice it on themselves first. This is another great advantage of being compassionate.

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10. They are hard wired to do good

There has been lots of debate about whether compassion is just a rather pedestrian emotion for the do gooders on this planet or whether it is innate. Fortunately, most research now supports the latter view. The philosopher Kant was not convinced though.

“Such benevolence is called soft-heartedness and should not occur at all among human beings.” – Emanuel Kant

It is well known that there are biological and physiological changes in the body systems when we actually do good or treat people kindly. Compassionate people are perfect examples of this and illustrate that they are the models to follow.

11. They know how to use touch

Research seems to now suggest that the use of touch can convey compassion when verbal cues are impossible. The warmth of touch to encourage, soothe and comfort a sick or grieving person are extremely important. It is also an evolved part of our human nature. Compassionate people use touch intelligently and they know that ‘touchy feely’ can be extremely effective and therapeutic.

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12. They are even compassionate towards those who mistreat them

The truly compassionate person knows instinctively that when he or she is treated badly, they need to withdraw. Anger and other negative emotions are useless. This is extremely difficult to practice. They start to think instead of what the person was going through, what they were suffering and what mood they were in. Once they understand this, they can think of the times that they themselves mistreated somebody and reflect on how important it is not to react with anger but, rather, with compassion and kindness.

13. They will change the world

Now that we know that compassion is truly just another aspect of being human, let’s try and go out and make the world a much better place. Compassionate people will lead the way by making the workplaces, schools, hospitals and public offices more caring and compassionate places. Let’s get out there and just do it!

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

Featured photo credit: Young attractive girl with her pet dog via shutterstock.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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