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5 Secrets To Working With Your Spouse

5 Secrets To Working With Your Spouse

Whether the idea of working with your spouse thrills or terrifies you, you’re on the right track.

Creating and building together is one of the greatest joys in a relationship, but it can also be wildly damaging to your bond and your bank account if you don’t have a good strategy for managing your dual roles in each other’s lives.

My husband, Warren, and I have been living, working, and traveling together continuously since 2010. Over this time, we’ve discovered 5 secrets that keep both our business and our love life in the black.

Set Expectations

When we first started working together publishing a website and writing a book, our roles were not clear-cut and we had similar, but not aligned, goals. Of course, we didn’t realize it at the time, but it soon became evident as we worked on different priorities and duplicated efforts.

When we finally had the conversation about what in the heck we were really doing, it was like a light bulb came on.

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“You thought we were doing what?”

“Why would you expect me to do that?”

When your goals and roles are not clear cut, your result will be just as fuzzy as your plan. Take the time to map out exactly what you want for your business and lifestyle and how you each need to work to make it happen so you’re both on the same page and working from the same game plan.

Describe the end goal and how you see your business unfolding and make sure you are in agreement. You might be surprised to find you’re not even in the same ballpark!

You’ll save a lot of time and money, not to mention fights along the way.

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Assign Separate Roles (and Stop Hovering)

No one likes a nag. If you trust your partner enough to go into business together, then you have to trust that he or she will get the job done. Constantly asking for updates, giving advice, and second-guessing will only cause resentment and slow your progress.

Assigning specific roles within your business will allow each person to ‘own’ their duties. Each person has a responsibility, and you stop duplicating efforts.

You also stop wasting energy on ‘checking up’ with the other person, which is easy to do when you’re in a holding pattern with a new business, frustrated over your own workload, or just stressed out about how things are progressing. It’s always easier to nag your partner than face the real issues, but that’s also a habit that will doom your business (and maybe even your relationship).

The key is to know your role and stick with it. You’ve got a business to get off the ground, and it takes 100% attention from each person on their responsibilities to make it successful. Leave the second-guessing and nagging to amateurs.

Assume the Best Intent

If you are the type to bring up all your past hurts every time you have a fight with your romantic partner, working together can be tricky. He or she is not out to get you, especially if they’ve chosen to merge money and effort to go into business together, and when you get melodramatic like that you’re only hurting your business.

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Imagine screaming at a corporate co-worker that she’s always trying to sabotage you because she forgot to tell you about a meeting. Or rolling your eyes in the office and telling a colleague that you have to do everything around here.

If you can’t imagine treating former colleagues that way, don’t even think about doing it to the business partner you love.

Always assume your partner has good intentions and work from there. Mistakes will happen and you will deal with them, but remember who you are coming home to at the end of the day.

You can’t complain about the jerk at work if he or she’s the same person sleeping next to you at night.

Get an Office Manager (Even a Non-human One)

When you’re 50/50 partners, it’s sometimes hard to tell each other what to do or call each other out when something goes wrong. You need to manage your workload, clients, and business development without sacrificing your romantic partnership.

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A third party is an excellent way to keep your communication from turning into a, “You’re not the boss of me!” kind of exchange.

One tool we really like is Nimble, which allows us to track our deals, activities, and contacts. We can also assign activities to each other when we’re working on a collaborative project. You can also use websites like Basecamp from 37 Signals, or Wrike for the same thing.

It’s sometimes easier to have assignments come through as a task from your computer instead of a verbal request from your mate, and when you’re both busy trying to get this business off the ground it is really easy to let those things fall through the cracks. With an online system to manage what you’re doing, you can avoid a lot of forgetfulness and fighting.

Turn It Off

It’s easy to let your new project take over your life. And in the beginning, it might even be necessary. But over time it’s important to flip off the lights from work and enjoy your personal life. Otherwise you’ll turn into co-workers who just happen to live together.

Give yourself mandatory days off or a mutual ‘quitting time’ so you can enjoy meals and activities together. See your friends, or go for a walk. It’s really easy to work all day and night and forgo a social life, healthy food, exercise, and even sex when you’re in startup mode (and sometimes well beyond it).

You started your business together to create something for your future, to spend time with the person you love, and because you believe in each other.

Don’t ever forget that, and you’ll have relationship and a business that’s always in the black.

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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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