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Are You Stuck? 10 Distinctions Will Help Change Your Mindset

Are You Stuck? 10 Distinctions Will Help Change Your Mindset

No paths in the forest

    Sometimes we cannot see the path in the forest, so we need to take a different look

    Have you ever felt like there is no way? You chase your dreams, but it seems that everything’s against them.

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    If that is not your case, then you probably belong to the small-sized group of achievers. But, for many of us, the need for “something” that turns everything downside-up is a must.

    As a coach, I have seen the benefits of distinctions, which is nothing more (and nothing less) than looking at certain pairs of words from a different point of view. It may seem worthless, but most of the time the “something” we need is just to take a new perspective, and we can start by using words in a more favorable way. So here is the list of my top 10 distinctions:

    Opinion vs. fact

    According to Newfield Consulting founder, Rafael Echeverria, we are living in “interpretive worlds” which means, at the end of the day, there’s a high scarcity of facts so most of the “facts” are actually opinions. The key point is facts are either true or false – and, in the latter case, they are called “lies.” But opinions are neither true nor false. Opinions can be well founded on facts (my laptop has been working for three years, so it will keep working tomorrow), and they can be shared by many people (one of the best restaurants in the world is “El celler de can Roca”). But they are not true. And they are not false. They’re just opinions. So next time someone (or even yourself) says “you will not reach your goal,” you can be sure it is an opinion, so you can choose to either quit or just keep going.

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    Victim vs. responsible

    The distinction here lies in the ability to act: a victim receives everything as “something that happens,” no matter what it may say or do. On the contrary, responsibility – or, even better, “response-ability” is a call for action, a way of giving response to whatever may happen. Victims don’t take action because they are overwhelmed; response-able people know the answer is action. A victim thinks the blame is outside, while a responsible person knows the answer is inside.

    To be vs. to be being

    “I am stupid.” “You are a liar.” These kind of definitions make us stay away from other possibilities. A liar lies. Always. Period. But if we say “you are lying,” we are open to new future possibilities. And maybe there is a big difference between “I am useless at work” and “I am doing an unproductive task.”

    Commitment vs. obligation

    This one is straightforward: we only do well the tasks we feel committed to. We do not perform well whenever we feel forced. When my boss tells me to do something, sometimes I feel like it’s an order, so I am obliged to obey. But I can choose to think it is something I actually want to do, for whatever reason (salary, keep good mood at the office, etc.) The quality of my job will depend on my choice.

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    Why vs. for what

    Instead of over-analyzing reasons behind our actions and feelings, we can focus on the future benefits and costs, so that the final balance is good for us. For example, let’s assume I feel angry with my boss; I can see the benefits of that feeling are that she will be away from me most of the time, so I have less assignments from her. But the cost is that I arrive home and I am still angry. Now I can start thinking about new possibilities to have the same results at a lower cost. Why not start saying “no” to those extra loads of work? Why not ask for an assistant?

    Learn vs. forget

    Have you ever seen these two words as synonyms? Have you ever realized sometimes we need to forget in order to learn? One of the worst enemies to learning is the “I have done it the other way for the last 20 years and I am not going to change that” way of thinking. For example, in order to learn Russian, you must forget the sound of “H,” “M,” “P” and “X” in order to properly learn they sound like “N,” “T,” “R” and “KH.”

    Dream vs. challenge

    A challenge can be defined as a special kind of dream: it comes with action, which means planning deadlines taking resources, setting objectives, measuring results, etc. So you can have lots of dreams, and they will hardly become true unless you transform them into challenges and start living them.

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    Complaint vs. claim

    Do you feel the difference between, “You do nothing at home!” and, “can you lay the table?” A claim is a specific call for action, while a complaint is unproductive blaming. Next time you need to ask for something, try to make a claim instead of a complaint.

    To make a petition vs. to command

    The difference between these two actions is inside ourselves, and not in the style. Is it not true that “could you please lower your voice?” is just a question, or that “Shut up!” is an order; the distinction lies in our reaction when the receiver says “No.” Can you stand it? Then you were asking. Can’t you? Then you are commanding. And in the latter case, you are somehow forcing the other –or even yourself- so the final result will not be the best (see distinction number 4). Next time, let’s make sure whether we are going to ask or to command before making the sentence.

    Demand vs. excellence

    If you are demanding, your focus is on things that have to be improved, the unfinished jobs, the bad results – and happiness is far from this. On the contrary, if you think of excellence as being conscious about your achievements, you will be ready to go to the next step. Excellence does not mean to hide or deny reality, but being humble enough to say “okay, so far so good. And next time will be better.”

    I hope these tools can help you open new possibilities to reach your goals. Which one is the most compelling to you? Are you using some other distinctions in your life? I welcome your comments!

    Featured photo credit: Ok or KO / francesc rossell-pujos via dropbox.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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