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4 Ways To Use Technology To Draw Closer To Your Significant Other

4 Ways To Use Technology To Draw Closer To Your Significant Other

Anytime technology and relationships are brought up in the same sentence, it’s usually a statement denouncing our gadget obsessed generation as antisocial. While it is true that between our smart phones, tablets and computers, we are changing the way we communicate, this needn’t always be for the worse. Here are four great ways to use technology to improve your relationships, especially with your significant other.

1. Install Avocado, an app built for couples

avocado
    Avocado

    is a web and mobile app (available for Android and iOS) that was developed by two former Google employees. Avocado allows couples to privately share messages, photos, shopping lists and cute doodles. In addition, you can easily send your current location to your significant other and be automatically notified when their phone’s battery level is low.

    According to the app’s developers, “whether you’re in the same room or continents away, this couples app helps you and your boo stay connected anytime, anywhere. And just like home, it’s a private space for the two of you to share a life.”

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    Avocado password protects and encrypts your data, keeping all your shared sweet nothings safe and sound.

    2. Set up a shared budget

    budget

      In many relationships, money issues are the most common source of conflict and tension. Many of these issues are entirely avoidable if both parties communicate openly about financial decisions. One easy way to accomplish this is with a shared budget. While there are an abundance of budget options available, here are two that will likely fit most couples needs.

      The first is a simple and free solution, a Google spreadsheet. With this option, you are free to build your budget as you see fit. If you are willing to learn a little bit about basic spreadsheet formulas, you can easily automate the totaling of your line items and see exactly how much is remaining in each one of your budget categories. Your spreadsheet can be shared between you and your partner, with your changes updated in real time and stored securely in the cloud, accessible via Google Drive in both the browser and on your smart phones.

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      If a spreadsheet seems too basic for your needs and you would prefer something with more powerful budgeting features, check out YNAB, short for You Need A Budget. YNAB is a full featured desktop budgeting app which, through its cloud sync feature, allows each member of your family to add transactions to the ledger from their mobile apps. YNAB is $60 to purchase, which may seem a little steep, but, with its laundry list of advanced budgeting features, is well worth the price.

      3. Share your calendar

      calendar

        Make sure that you and your significant other are always on the same page when it comes to your schedule by setting up a shared calendar. The easiest way to do this is through Google Calendar‘s powerful sharing feature, which allows you to set up to 75 different people as collaborators, each with customizable levels of access. Simply go to the calendar that you want to share, or create a new “family” calendar and click the down arrow next to the calendar’s name and select Share This Calendar and type in the email address of whomever you would like to share it with. As simple as that, you now have a family calendar, stored in the cloud, that can be accessed from the browser and on your mobile phones.

        4. Start a couple’s blog

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        journal

          Every couple has a story to tell, why not tell yours together on a couple’s blog. Free blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger make it possible for couples to chronicle their romance, publicly or privately. Starting a blog will simultaneously bring you closer together and allow you to build a record of your time together that you can look back on fondly if the relationship progresses…. or delete in anger if things go south, but you can cross that bridge when you get to it.

           

          Technology is fantastic when it comes to improving your communication and sharing data, but don’t forget to pull your face out of your phone every once in a while and spend some low-tech quality time together with your significant other.

           

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          Featured photo credit: pedrosimoes7 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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