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15 Things To Talk About In A Healthy Relationship

15 Things To Talk About In A Healthy Relationship

Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. However, many people aren’t certain what they should be communicating about. Spend time talking about a variety of topics to grow together as a couple and to prevent your relationship from becoming stale.

1. Your Daily Activities

All of your conversations don’t have to be earth shattering. Spend time talking about your day-to-day activities. Discuss what time you woke up, what you ate for lunch, or what you discussed with a co-worker and help your partner understand what happens when you’re apart.

2. Money

Talk about your budget. Discuss your saving and spending habits. If you combine your finances, set some financial goals and discuss strategies to help you reach those goals.

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3. Places You Want to Explore

Start a conversation about the places you’d like to visit. Whether you want to travel to your grandmother’s house or you want to go on a cruise around the world, a discussion about travel can spark a lot of new conversation.

4. Emotional Growth

Share some information about your emotional growth. If you notice you’ve become wiser, less reactive, or more compassionate, share that with your partner. Point out the emotional growth you see in your partner as well.

5. Individual Goals

It’s healthy to have individual goals. Whether you want to lose weight, learn how to prepare Chinese food, or learn how to line dance, set some goals for yourself and discuss those goals with your partner.

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6. Spiritual Beliefs

Start conversations about your spiritual beliefs. Be willing to listen to your partner’s beliefs and be open to talking about the similarities and differences in your beliefs.

7. What You’re Watching on TV

Although watching TV isn’t an active way to grow together as a couple, discussing what you’re watching can help you learn something new about one another.

8. Politics

You don’t have to agree on politics in order to have a discussion about it. You can learn a lot about your partner if you have a conversation about politics. Any healthy relationship should allow each partner to feel respected enough to share an opinion, even if it opposes the other partner’s opinion.

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9. Goals to Address as a Couple

Discuss the goals you want to reach together as a couple. All healthy relationships should include shared goals for the future. Whether your goal is to volunteer at a homeless shelter together or save enough money for a new car, working together to reach your goal can help you stay close as a couple.

10. Your Past

Your partner doesn’t need to know every skeleton in your closet. However, sharing information about your past can be very helpful. Talk about your childhood, past experiences, or obstacles you’ve overcome. You can also share how much you’ve learned and changed over the years.

11. Your Values

It’s important to share your values with one another. Talk about your priorities in life. It’s important for your partner to know how you feel about work, family, education, friends, and leisure time. Let your partner know what types of things you value the most and what changes you may want to make to ensure that you’re living according to your values.

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12. Your Dreams

Daydreaming together can be a great activity in any healthy relationship. Discuss dreams you had as a child, dreams you’ve let go, and dreams you still hold onto.

13. Your Feelings

Of course, talking about your feelings is an important part of communication. Be willing to share your joys and sorrows with your partner. Also, be willing to talk about what makes you feel angry, when you’re disappointment, and when you feel embarrassed or hurt.

14. Family

Whether you’ve got a close relationship with your family or not, talking about family can be important. It can give your partner an inside look at what type of childhood you had as well as what type of relationship you have with your family members. Discuss how you want your family to be different from your family of origin, as well as which aspects you want to replicate.

15. Your Relationship

Discuss the aspects of your relationship that are working well and make sure to also discuss problematic areas. Talking openly about your relationship can ensure your relationship stays fresh and exciting.

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Amy Morin

A psychotherapist, psychology instructor, keynote speaker, and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

How to Think Positive Thoughts When Feeling Negative 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do 10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong 12 Ways To Improve Social Skills And Make You Sociable Anytime 6 Mistakes That Keep You Struggling in Life And Stuck

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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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