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16 Habits Of Empathetic People

16 Habits Of Empathetic People

Empathetic people aren’t always that easy to find – we’re those rare foil-wrapped Lindt truffles, smooth on the outside and gooey in the center. So how d’you spot an empathetic person from a mile off? Here are 16 habits to help you find these shining jewels among the crowd – because they are very worth finding.

1. They overspend on presents

The most empathetic of us trawl the internet for the perfect gift to light up birthdays everywhere. That expensive lawn mower that we can’t really afford for Mum, that newest of the cool gadgets Dad wanted, the signed Britney CD for our best friend (who is slightly stuck in the past…) Because as empathasisers, we don’t just feel others’ pain, we feel their pleasure.

2. They overthink

Because we are always stuck in the shoes of other people, looking through the eyes of those around us, we can be rather harsh on ourselves and overthink things. We’retoonice. Sometimes we take it too hard when we are criticized and are too keen to please. We should be better to ourselves and stop caring quite so much about what other people think.

3. They’re mega affectionate on social media

Do you have that one friend who likesevery singlephoto, status, blog post and whatever else you throw at the internet? I know, we’re like an army of like-happy stalkers, all over your Instagram, your Facebook, your Twitter – we even endorse you on LinkedIn. Because we know how it feels when no one likes our stuff and we love you far too much to let that happen.

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4. They never bail

You have plans? You’ve been looking forward to that fat burger at Five Guys all day? Never fear, we may have trying headaches and an early start tomorrow but we will be there, because we hate how it feels to be let down and we refuse to be the cause of that in our friends.

5. They’re great bakers

When you’re down in the dumps, we get our oven mitts on, because we know all you need is a moist slice of cakey goodness to get you back on your feet. We’ve perfected the art of Oreo brownies and we know your favorite desserts by heart.

6. They’re great in the sack

We’re great at romance and we like to know what makes you tick. We’ll always treat you well and we’re always aware of just how much fun you’rereallyhaving. You want generosity? Check in with an empie.

7. They always use their pleases and thank yous

You barrel into us on the street and knock our bags out of our hands? We’ll probably be the ones to apologize first. And when someone thanks us, our instinct is not ‘you’re welcome’, but a ‘thank you’ right back (we know it makes no sense, it’s just hardwired into our niceness…) We’re uber polite, perhaps too polite, but our parents taught us our manners and we stick to them.

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8. They’ll always leave you the last Malteser

If you know any empathisers in your life, treat them to the last biscuit in the barrel, the last donut, the last Revel (even if it is that shriveled chocolate raisin). Because empiesalways, without fail,give out the last goodie to anyone else who will take it. Because it makes us happier to make your day than to indulge ourselves.

9. They love animals

If we see a golden retriever on the train or find a cat in a car park, we will love that little fur ball as if we have known the critter our whole life. Lock your pets away because we might just steal them (except we would feel your loss and return said creature immediately, before the cycle started all over again).

10. Theyalwaysfeel guilty

We didn’t text you back, we forgot about an appointment and wasted the doctor’s much-sought-after time, we dropped the ball on the most high-profile project of the year at the office – it all cuts us like a knife. Because we don’t just feel our own pain, we take the bullet for the whole building.

11. They’re big on comfort eating

Empathisers really appreciate a good tasty treat, because we’re so aware of the comfort it gives us. And man, when the boyfriend dumps us in Zizzi’s or our boss demotes us for photocopying our unmentionables, boy do we hit Ben and Jerry’s hard. Because it makes us feel so damn good.

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12. They sometimes cry in bathrooms

Empathisers are always there for you, but rarely ask for that support to be returned. We’re so attuned to others that we jump to aid anyone who is upset, which means that we often expect others to have the same intuition. Which often leads to lonely emotional outpourings in public toilets.

13. They couldn’t harm a fly

Literally. Empies are even sensitive to insects and no matter how many nightmares we have about that hairy eight-legged monster in the corner of the bedroom, we willnotdestroy. We’ll cup-and-paper it if we’re feeling brave, but mostly, we’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist. And when our cat brings in a half dead mouse? The pet ambulance is here – we’ll race down the road to the nearest vet and if that mouse can be saved, we’ll make damn sure that it is.

14. They are experts in all things tea-related

White, with two sugars, lukewarm? Half a dash of milk and one sweetener? We’ve got your back. We remember how much you love your cuppa and we do not disappoint with those warming leaves of glory. Which makes us the very best of hosts – no need to grin and bear it, your empie friend knows how you feel before you do and has used their magical empathetic skills to suss you out.

15. They give great hugs

None of those reserved bodies-barely-touching hugs from us empies – full on close cuddles are our forte. We’ll get all up in your grill and invade your personal space, because that’s where we know we belong.

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16. They stick like glue

You’ll never get rid of an empie once you’ve befriended them. You can have the biggest row and your empie will forgive you immediately – because we know what you’re really feeling, what the fight is really about, and we couldn’t possibly hold it against you when you’re in such emotional distress over the loss of poor Mr Flops, the cutest, most loyal bunny in the country. So kick and scream but you can’t get rid of us that easily – we’ll just hug you into submission for years to come.

Featured photo credit: Flikr, John Remy via flickr.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

Reference

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