“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
– Jim Rohn
Most of us have at least one friend we consider toxic: the loser friend who disrupts our entire world the second they step into it. We know things would be so much easier if we cut them loose, yet we spend more time figuring out why we stay than it would take to actually leave.
Why You Have Loser Friends
The truth is, it happens for a multitude of reasons:Advertising
- You’ve been friends with them since you were kids.
- You know them so well you’re constantly justifying their behavior.
- You feel guilty because they don’t have anyone else to turn to.
- You feel obligated to spend time with them because they’re a mutual friend of your BFF/spouse/family member.
- You’re afraid of how they’ll react if you confront them (a.k.a. more drama).
- You feel it’s easier to deal with them than disrupt your hectic lifestyle any further.
Usually though, it’s a simple case of outgrowing each other. What caused you to “click” initially as friends no longer applies, or your lives are going in completely different directions.
I felt this way about several people I used to spend time with: they were going nowhere fast, had no goals, no ambition, and their only focus was their next self-destructive adventure. I’ve always had huge goals for myself, and these were being diminished by the company I kept for the variety of reasons above.
What Constitutes a Loser Friend?
When I use the term “loser friend,” I don’t mean they themselves are losers—everyone is entitled to live their life exactly how they want to—but what they’re doing to your life is causing you to lose what you want… and you’re letting it happen.Advertising
If you have friends who do any of the following, you need to seriously consider their place in your life:
- They’re not supportive.
- They’re not there when you need them.
- They’re only there when they need you.
- They make you feel drained.
- They have no ambition.
- They constantly infuriate you.
- They expect you to drop everything when they want to do something.
- They think everything is an urgent crisis.
Take it from someone who watched her own life implode: if you want to be amazing, you have to spend your time with amazing people. In order to make room for these people, you have to leave your loser friends behind.
Why You Should Leave Your Loser Friends Behind
It’s not going to be easy, but letting them go is a necessary part of creating the life you’ve always wanted for yourself. Otherwise:Advertising
1. They’ll hold you back from your full potential.
The biggest thing I learned from my experience with friends like these is that you’ll never live up to your full potential if you’re constantly weighed down by unnecessary drama and complication. In order to succeed, you need a solid routine and a strong support system. Consider your loser friends the loose floorboard in that support system, constantly distracting you from your goals.
2. They’ll make you feel like crap about yourself.
When they want you to do something you don’t want to do, they’ll constantly nag you and make you feel guilty about being who you are until you cave to their demands. It’s an incessant, vicious cycle that won’t end until you put a stop to it. If you don’t, get ready for a wide array of self-esteem issues.
3. They’ll negatively impact your reputation.
Even though you were guilted into going to that party and became your sloppy friend’s crutch, the dream employer you’ve wanted to work with since you were in public school isn’t going to know that when they’re checking out the horrific pictures you’re tagged in on Facebook.Advertising
More than that, if you’re this easily influenced in your personal life, they’re going to assume you won’t be able to hack it in a professional setting.
4. They’ll bring out the worst in you.
You know all of those bad habits you’re trying to break? Your loser friends will make it so difficult for you to build good habits you’ll constantly crack under the pressure and eventually give up on the concept entirely. After all, if you change for the better, your relationship with them will change for the worse, and will work against what they need from you.
5. They’ll dim the good things in your life.
You’ll be so focused on their drama, needs, and wants, the stress of your friendship will cause you to lose focus on the aspects of your life that are going well. Simply put, negativity breeds negativity—is this really how you want your life to be?
So what are you waiting for? Leave drama to the circus and live your life exactly how you want to, with who you want to. If you don’t decide to do so now, your loser friends will decide for you.
How have loser friends impacted your life? How did you handle it?
Last Updated on January 15, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension. 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.
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? 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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.
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
- Increasing Confidence with Body Language
- 8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes To Avoid During Presentations
- Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips
Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com
|||^||Berkeley News: The 16 facial expressions most common to emotional situations worldwide|
|||^||Science Daily: Teeth grinding and facial pain increase due to coronavirus stress and anxiety|
|||^||National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders|
|||^||Michigan Medicine: Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation|
|||^||Spectra Magazine: Oculesics: Science Speaks Where Words Do Not|
|||^||NCBI: Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings|
|||^||ResearchGate: An Anthropology of the Handshake|
|||^||Sage Journals: Mapping the Range of Information Contained in the Iconic Hand Gestures that Accompany Spontaneous Speech|
|||^||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Hand Matters: Left-Hand Gestures Enhance Metaphor Explanation|