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6 Most Important Social Skills You Can Have To Make A Great Social Life

6 Most Important Social Skills You Can Have To Make A Great Social Life

As a lifehacker, you probably know that some of your actions are responsible for most of your success. When it comes to making friends and having a great social life, some social skills make the most difference. Here are six of them.

1. Find Great Places To Meet New People

Friendship always happens in a certain environment. This environment can be a school, a workplace, or just a friends’ house. It always starts with a circumstance that brings people together. This happens mostly by chance, and that is far from ideal.

If you want a great social life, it’s better to take control of this aspect and find great places to meet new people. I recommend you find private settings like local communities or meet-up clubs around your interests. As a rule of thumb, you need to find places where it’s natural to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself.

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2. Select The Right People

When you meet someone new and like them, you need to know if they are ready for a new friendship. Some people just have too many friends already, and some are going through a stressful event and can’t find the time to be social.

You’re better off not taking this as rejection; they just don’t have the time to be friends.

If you want to find out if they’re ready for friendship, then try and find out if they’re active socially. You can do that in two ways: first, you can ask where they go out, and second, pay attention to what they’re going through in their life. If someone is about to move, change jobs, get married or have a baby, you can be sure they won’t have time to hang out.

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3. Spot Commonalities With Others

A common mistake people make when meeting new friends is that they focus on how the other person is different from them. They start to point out differences in opinion as a way to show how unique they are. It’s a good thing to be unique, but that should not prevent you from connecting with potential friends.

Instead, you should look for similarities in opinions, habits, goals, and interests. That will give you a little common ground, so you can build a friendship if you want to. You can always argue with them and even tease them once they become your friends.

4 – Show Little Vulnerabilities Early On

This sounds more risky than it really is. If you’re going to be friends with someone, there is a level of trust to establish; both of you have to disclose some things to each other.

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To kick-start a friendship, there is a level of trust that has to be built. Even as you’re just getting to know someone, there is a need for the sense of “we can trust each other.”

You don’t have to reveal big secrets from your life. All you have to do is be a little more open. A rule of thumb is to be 5% more open than usual. When you do that, you can see that the other person will be more inclined to do the same; they too will reveal some vulnerability. These can be weird or funny habits, or quirks each of you have. It plays a great part in the friendship process, but most people aren’t even aware of it.

5 – Show Others That You Like Them

When you first meet someone, you both have to like each other to become friends. This entirely subjective aspect about first encounters shouldn’t scare you. What you can do here is always assume that you’re going to be liked, and that you generally like to meet new people.

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When you hold these two mindsets, you automatically start to behave in a way that signals to other people that you like them, which makes them like you. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if they think you like them, they’ll start to like you.

6 – Treat Making Friends As A Skill

The irony here is that the socially successful people never stop learning about friendship and making friends. Socially unsuccessful people, on the other hand, think that it’s something you‘re either born with or not.

It’s true that some of us have learned it very well at a young age. And others, like me, had to figure it all out a little later. Like any other skill, it has principles and techniques that anyone can learn. The good news is that once you start learning, you can only get better.

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

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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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