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8 Types Of Friends You Need To Have in Your Life

8 Types Of Friends You Need To Have in Your Life

Did you know that people without friends are more likely to die an early death?

It’s true. Just ask science.

To up your chances of living a long, happy life, having a bunch of fair-weather buddies won’t do the trick. You need a diverse, well-rounded entourage that will stick with you through thick and thin. The following eight types of friends are just what you need to keep the doctor away.

1. A Loyal Best Friend

Sometimes a loyal best friend is the only thing you need to stay sane. Everyone needs a non-judgmental friend who will support them no matter what. This is the kind of friend who lets you be a hot mess and knows all of your deepest and darkest secrets, but still loves you all the same.

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2. A Fearless Adventurer

We live in a big world where there are so many places to see, people to meet, and experiences to be had, yet so many of us are stuck in our own routines and forget to, well, live. We all need an adventurous friend who will pull us out of our shells and introduce us to new ideas, cultures, philosophies, and activities.

3. A Brutally Honest Confidant

There’s certain situations in life where we need to hear the harsh truth. That’s what the brutally honest confidant is for. If you’re in a rocky relationship and everyone’s telling you that it’s perfectly normal that you’re back with that special someone for the 8th time in the last 2 years, the brutally honest confidant is there to yank your rose-colored glasses off and tell you, “Enough. Stop with all that break-up-and-get-back-together drama. You deserve better.” Friends are supposed to be honest with each other. If you find someone who is brutally honest with you (in a constructive way), then hold on to this person! People like that are hard to come by these days.

4. A Wise Mentor

Jesse Jackson once said, “Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up.” If you have someone smart, inspiring, and admirable in your life who practices this philosophy, you’re extremely lucky. We all need a friend who inspires us to be better people without making us feel inadequate. Plus, being around such a person will challenge us to better ourselves every day.

The wise mentor in your life doesn’t have to be someone who shares the same occupation or hobbies with you. It’s simply someone who’s a few steps ahead of you in life and has enough wisdom and patience to guide you in the right direction. It can be anyone — a colleague, a friend who’s beyond their years, or an older neighbor — as long as you look up to this person and want to be more like them.

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5. A Friend From a Different Culture

The last thing you want to be described as is someone who’s stuck in their own ways. If everyone had a friend from a different culture, the world would be a much better place. Being in a cross-cultural friendship allows you to explore customs, values, and traditions outside of your own culture. Sometimes you might even adopt new ways to do things.

Be careful; don’t befriend someone just because they’re from a different culture. No one likes to be a token friend. Instead, keep your mind open, and if you come across someone you click with who just so happens to be from a different culture, make the effort to learn about their customs, values, and traditions while getting to know the person on a personal level.

6. A Polar Opposite

We humans are hard-wired to get together in groups and attack outsiders — the human pack mentality, if you will. If you only develop friendships with others who follow the same beliefs, customs, and values as you do, chances are you’re somewhat detached from the rest of the world, and you’re more likely to perpetuate stereotypes on anyone who holds a different world view from you.

Instead of constantly surrounding yourself with like-minded people, try to break out of your comfort zone and befriend people who hold opposing views. They will help open your eyes to different world views and you’ll learn to accept people who don’t see the world exactly the way you see it.

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7. A Friendly Neighbor

These days, a lot of people don’t know their own neighbors. It’s a shame, because some neighbors can be the nicest and most helpful people ever. If you’re on a vacation, and you suddenly realize that you forgot to lock the front door, you can call up your trusty ol’ neighbor and ask them to head over to your house and lock it for you. Nice dependable neighbors who have each other’s backs are a dying breed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t introduce yourself to the new neighbors across the street!

8. A Work Pal

Did you know that with a full-time job, you spend at least 50% of your waking hours at work? Not only that, but you spend some more time commuting to work, thinking about work, working overtime, and furthering your career on your personal time. Depressing, isn’t it?

Statistics show that the more isolated you are at work, the more depressed you get. That’s why it makes sense to get a work pal to chat with at the water cooler and to help you get through the week. You spend 50% of your waking hours at work, and so does your work pal. You’ll find it much easier to shoot the breeze and complain about work with someone who can relate to you than eating lunch alone every day.

Your work pal doesn’t have to be your best friend outside of work. They just need to be someone you click with on some level, and if you two hit it off exceptionally well, you can always start hanging out with them outside of the office.

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With a loyal best friend, a fearless adventurer, a brutally honest confidant, a wise mentor, a friend from a different culture, a polar opposite, a friendly neighbor, and a work pal in your life, you’re bound to live a long and happy life!

Featured photo credit: More Than Mommies via 4.bp.blogspot.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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