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7 Things Only Best Friends Would Understand

7 Things Only Best Friends Would Understand

Best friends often make life way more fun than it should be (let’s face it, things become pretty bleak when there’s nobody around to laugh at your terrible jokes). There’s nothing quite like having someone around who totally understands you and won’t judge you (or will judge you, depending on the situation). They’re brutally honest, interesting even after they’ve recited the same story to you a thousand times, and are aware of all the little inside jokes that crack both of you up no matter how many times you say them. Thanks to this close connection there’s a bunch of things that you’d only understand if you’re someone’s best friend, and I’ve listed a chunk of them below.

1. The look of abject horror on your best friend’s face when they see someone they hate.

7bestfriends#1

    Everybody hates somebody (insert laugh track here)! So it’s nice when your best friend is there to nod their head and say, “don’t worry man, I know exactly how you feel.” It’s even better if they proceed to join you in glaring at said hated person.

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    2. That hysterical expression you both make when you see the person who has been the brunt of your inside jokes for the past several years.

    7bestfriends#2

      In my small little group of best friends we’ve been dragging along an inside joke that’s lasted for several years, and it’s all based around one particular (unintentionally) hysterical person. When we see him, we can barely control ourselves.

      3. The fear and trepidation you both feel when arriving at a party that’s either full of creeps or people you don’t know.

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      7bestfriends#3

        So your best friend thought it’d be a good idea to drive out into the middle of nowhere and go to a party hosted by an acquaintance he knew in his freshmen English class a couple years back. You arrive and neither of you see anybody you know. Simultaneously, everyone in the party turns to glare at you suspiciously as you waltz in. You’re thankful you have a buddy because at this point you and your best friend might as well be (mentally) holding hands.

        4. If you’re of the opposite sex, having people think one of you friendzoned the other.

        4

          Having a best friend of the opposite sex is often a bit of an ordeal, as you’ll get people saying that you’re perfect for each other or assuming that one of you secretly has a crush on the other. In reality, you’re as platonic as can be and would much rather go out and be each other’s wingman/wingwoman than to do anything freaky together! That being said…

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          5. Planning to marry your best friend in case all of your plans fall through.

          7bestfriends#5

            Hey, you may not actually love your best friend in anything more than a “let’s drink beers and talk about Doctor Who” way, but it’s always nice to have a “we’ll marry each other when we’re 40” plan in place in the case that for some strange reason you’re both still alone!

            6. Downing a lot of alcohol together before dealing with people you aren’t comfortable with.

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            6-3

              Everyone’s been in this situation before. You’re in your dingy little college apartment, vodka in one hand, whiskey in the other. Your best friend looks at you with an “eh, might as well” expression, and you both proceed to down as much as you can before the annoying acquaintance people show up at your doorstep. After a few minutes of sharing bottles and patting each other on the back, you’re finally ready to treat the incoming outsiders as if they were family (no matter how much this may freak them out).

              7. Feeling like you’ve just talked yesterday, when in reality you haven’t seen each other in months or years.

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                This is the mark of a true best friend! I often had friends go away in college for programs abroad only to pick up right where we left off when they got back. Same with my high school best friends: our relationships are almost exactly how they used to be, despite the fact that we’ve all been separated for multiple years due to college. You really can’t ask for more!

                Featured photo credit: pics_268/MorgueFile via mrg.bz

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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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