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The Simplest Ways To Inspire People And Change Their Life

The Simplest Ways To Inspire People And Change Their Life

Has anyone ever inspired you to change your life in a significant way that made you healthier, happier, or more fulfilled? If so, you understand the difference that positive inspiration can make in a person’s life. Inspiration is powerful, but it isn’t easy. Would you like to return the favor by making a positive difference in the life of your friends, family, or co-workers? If you want to be a positive influence capable of inspiring your loved ones to become better versions of themselves, please consider these 20 ways to inspire people around you.

1. Care.

If you can’t show a person that you genuinely care about them, do you think you will be able to inspire them? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” Show people you care in your words (“How are you today?”) and your actions (small acts of kindness go a long way). 

2. Be enthusiastic.

The saying “enthusiasm is contagious” is common enough to be cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. Reflect enthusiasm every day to the people you are in contact with and I’m willing to wager your genuine smiles, positive energy, and caring concern will be returned ten-fold.

3. Earn trust.

If a person you know and love tells you a secret, it stays between you and them. Trust takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed overnight, so don’t take part in workplace gossip or unnecessary drama in your social networks so you can be a positive influence that people are unafraid to talk to.

4. If it’s not positive, don’t say it.

It’s easy to criticize people, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Think about it: how do you react if someone insults your intelligence, makes fun of your outfit, or criticizes your performance? Whether the criticism is justified or not, I bet you get upset. No one likes to be criticized, so if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say it at all.

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5. Build people up.

Small compliments have a way of brightening any day, irregardless of the dark shadows that may be overhead. Don’t believe me? Find someone in your office wearing a frown, tell them how cute (or handsome) they look today, and watch a bright smile take over their face. If your compliment doesn’t make their day, I’ll buy you a beer.

6. Stand your ground.

It’s easy to let life-stress shake our foundation of inner-strength as human beings, but if you want to inspire people around you, learn to stand your ground through thick and thin. Stand firm if you want to show the people around you that even the worst of circumstances can be overcome with positive thinking, continuous improvement, and a never-say-die attitude.

7. Admit your flaws.

Although it is important to not flinch when life throws us a curve-ball, it is equally important to acknowledge the fact that we are all human beings here, and thus are all inherently flawed. Everyone has at least one glaring weakness or two, so accept your short-comings to humanize yourself so people can relate to you on a deeper level. Show me a person who claims to be without fault and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

8. Be an active listener.

Anyone can hear the words other people say, but not many people can actively listen and comprehend those words to fully understand the meaning behind them. Make eye-contact if someone talks to you about their problems and ask follow-up questions to show them you care about what they are going through and want to understand where they are coming from as well as you can.

9. Reach for the stars.

No one will be inspired by a person who resigns themselves to “reality” (such a dreadful place that sounds devoid of hope or personal growth in my opinion). Be ambitious, aim high, and never surrender if you want to inspire people that they, too, can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

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10. Deliver constructive criticism.

First of all, constructive criticism should only be delivered if it is asked for. Remember point #4: if it’s not positive, don’t say it. If you criticize someone for their flaws without any input requested, you’re just going to upset them. But if you are asked for input, deliver it in a positive manner. For the sake of example, let’s assume someone asked you for feedback about an article, blog, essay, or resume that they wrote. You might deliver your feedback like this:

“First, thank you for asking me for input: it means a lot that you trust me! I looked it over and let me just say that I love what you did with [insert positive compliment here]. But I think it might be even better if you did this instead [insert constructive criticism and feedback for improvement here].” 

11. Treat everyone equally.

We are all equal human beings regardless of our gender, politics, race, religion, and other factors. Love and care for people without consideration of these irrelevant factors that have no influence on the quality of a person. Treat others how they want to be treated, no matter their background, to inspire trust and confidence.

12. Walk with confidence.

Keep your head high and eyes forward so you can say, “Hello,” or, “How are you?” to everyone you walk past. Walk with a friendly swagger that reflects confidence in who you are.

13. Stay calm and cool.

How people react to insults or criticism speaks highly about their ability to inspire others. If you respond to hate with more hate, how are you any better than the person who started the confrontation? (Hint: you’re not!) No matter how out-of-place or harsh an insult was, it’s best to stay calm and cool, because getting upset will not make you feel any better (and it certainly won’t inspire people around you). Shrug off insults like they didn’t happen and those who witness your unflinching nature might be inspired to do the same.

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14. Share your influences.

What books have made a huge impact on who you are as a person? What sources of inspiration help guide the most important decisions in your life? How did you become the happy, healthy, positive person you are today? Share the influences that shaped who you are so others can also benefit.

15. Acknowledge contributions of others.

No matter how wonderful you are, you’re just one person, so I’m sure others have contributed to your greatest successes in life. If you’re a writer and receive a compliment about a particular passage that one of your friends inspired, say something like, “I so appreciate that, but you know what’s funny? It wasn’t even my idea! My super talented and brilliant friend _______ gets full credit.” Acknowledge the contribution publicly if at all possible to show people you’re humble and thoughtful enough to give credit where it’s due.

16. Keep your promises.

If you volunteered to help with a cause and you get invited to a movie or concert, you need to keep your word, no matter how much more fun the other thing may be. It’s easy to ditch our responsibilities when a more interesting opportunity presents itself, but this is a sure-fire way to destroy the trust you’ve worked so hard to earn, so you’d be wise to keep your word no matter what.

17. Stay true to who you are.

A lot of us have a variety of “selves” that come out depending on the social situation: home, work, and friends all require a different song-and-dance. But putting on a different show for every group of people you encounter is super exhausting, and it’s certainly not a good way to inspire people around you. Would you place your confidence in a person who was so uncomfortable in their personality that they felt the need to pander to whatever crowd they were with? Embrace your true self without apology.

18. Explore alternative thoughts and ideas.

Anyone who thinks they have all the answers is kidding themselves, so make a point of challenging your beliefs on a regular basis. If you’re fiscally conservative, explore a well-thought out piece by someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum so you can see the other side of the story. If you’re a Christian, explore the thoughts of the most highly regarded Muslims to discover why they believe what they do. Have conversations with people who believe differently than you do to learn what makes them tick. It’s unlikely you’ll change your mind, and if you really believe something with conviction, it should hold up to scrutiny. Your openness will show others that you are so firm in your convictions that you’re willing to challenge your beliefs. You’ll also develop trust in people who think differently than you do, who otherwise might have been afraid to approach you. 

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19. Never add insult to injury.

If you win an argument, there is no need to brag about it. Proclaiming, “I told you so,” will make you look arrogant and discourage people from approaching you about the important things (and rightfully so!)

20. Set people free.

Don’t merely give people step-by-step advice, but instead give them the freedom to figure it out by themselves. No one likes a micro-manager. If you’re asked for help, deliver a rough guideline to get a person moving in the right direction, but intentionally leave something left to the imagination so they will have the freedom to fill-in-the-blanks. When a person discovers they are capable of figuring things out by their lonesome, they will discover they are more powerful than they ever thought possible.

How Do You Inspire People Around You?

Have you had the pleasure of inspiring a person to take a positive step forward to a better life? Or has someone helped inspire you to overcome a significant struggle? If so, we’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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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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