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Brush Up On These 10 Important Skills Many Young Adults Are Losing

Brush Up On These 10 Important Skills Many Young Adults Are Losing

In today’s world, we constantly rely on tools, electronics, and connected devices. Growing up in a world of ever-increasing connectivity is bound to require different skills than were needed before. Being a millennial myself, I feel many criticisms from older generations relating to this are misplaced. On the other hand, young people do stand to lose some important skills if we let new technologies completely obscure our approach to life. We might not need to know how to repair things like fences or old-time appliances, but the DIY mentality could be powerful if applied to our new devices. By taking the best of older generations and combining it with today’s unique demands and skill sets, young adults stand to be more empowered than any generation before. Though you don’t need to give up your love of technology, the Internet, or gaming, these 10 skills are still ones we could all benefit from brushing up on.

1. You need to know how to fix things

While it’s unlikely that our generation will need to know the same mechanical skills that past generations knew, our world is constantly growing more technologically connected. Because of this, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of fixing something ourselves. By growing more familiar with the inner workings of our technological tools and toys, our generation stands to be more efficient and self-reliant, and save some money. Things like simple button repairs or frayed cords are straightforward repairs; we shouldn’t be intimidated by learning how to fix our own electronics. Some easier repairs on mobile devices for example, run between $60 and $150. The same repairs can be done in less than an hour if you are familiar with some of the basic parts that go into the devices. Though the objects we are fixing may be different, younger generations should still value knowing how to do something yourself. Just remember that tinkering with your electronics often nullifies your warranty: only do repairs on items when the warranty has expired.

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2. You need to value and connect with nature

Another skill our generation is in danger of forgetting is valuing nature. While many people today are concerned with environmental causes, many of us neglect to explore the nature that surrounds us. Though our connected devices do show us the entire world, it’s important to remember that basic knowledge of local plants and animals can come in handy. Not only that, making a habit of going outside helps with vitamin D production, and may even help with anxiety.

3. You have to be able to rely on your memory

While there’s nothing wrong with embracing new innovations, one skill our generation may be losing is committing things to memory. By always having search engines at our fingertips, we are relying on our memory less. It’s important to remember that basic skills and knowledge may be required when you don’t have an Internet connection, so committing things to memory is a valuable habit to get into.

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4. You need to know how to cook

Many people in younger generations are more than happy to rely on fast food and microwave meals to get through the week. However, as our society faces increasing concerns with the lack of nutrition in ready-made meals, it’s important that your body is getting everything it needs. One way to ensure this is by cooking at least some of your meals, something most of us could do more of. Though it seems intimidating, a few basic cooking skills are really all you need to supplement your diet.

5. You need to value thriftiness

In today’s world, planned obsolescence and brand obsession attempt to keep consumers spending more than ever. However, it is important to remember the financial crash of 2007/2008 and the challenges we faced. It is crucial that younger generations remember to value thriftiness. Ultimately, the less you spend on possessions, the more you can spend on people and experiences. While we probably don’t need to go as far as the older generation’s world war rationing, keep in mind that possessions are just possessions, and that a new phone doesn’t offer much more than your current one. By wearing things out before you replace them, you stand to save a lot of money, and will be less at the beck and call of corporate marketing.

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6. You need to appreciate simplicity

Another quality younger generations should try to hold on to is simplicity. Thankfully, younger generations seem to still be on board with this one, as many millennials are turning away from typical big ticket purchases like cars and homes. While we don’t need to forfeit a comfortable life, if we consume less, we have more resources at our disposal to help others. As the first generation to grow up with the Internet, we are aware of the world around us than ever before. If young people can use this power to live more simply and give more to those who need it, we will truly be living up to our potential.

7. You need to expand your vocabulary

Another skill young people should try to retain is a good vocabulary. Language has always fluctuated and changed over time, and many of our “proper” expressions today would have been considered unintelligent, offensive slang 100 years ago. In this way, it’s not necessarily wrong to use abbreviations or Internet slang; however, remember that different ways of expressing yourself make what you’re saying stand out better. Having a rich vocabulary does not require you to ignore messaging language trends, but learning more words to express yourself will make your message more powerful.

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8. You need to know basic DIY skills

Another skill young people should try to keep is basic DIY repair skills. Almost everyone will go through a time when something in their house or apartment breaks but they don’t have enough money to fix it. By learning basic repairs and how to use basic tools, you stand be more empowered in your life. If you don’t need to rely on others to fix absolutely everything, you will save money, save time, and probably impress your significant other.

9. You should have some basic survival skills

Along with basic do-it-yourself repairs, young people shouldn’t shy away from learning basic survival skills. While younger people today are probably less likely to be outdoorsman, you never know what situation you might find yourself in. A wrong turn on a back road, or getting lost during an easy hike, can quickly lead to needing to survive a night outdoors. If you know basic skills like how to make a fire, or not to leave your vehicle or supplies, it might just save your life.

10. You have to be able to apply yourself to long tasks

Finally, one skill young people should value is the ability to internalize long books and films. Today’s world moves fast, and our media generally reflects this. Gone are the days where films would normally last over two hours, and the longest book many of us of have ever read is probably one of the Harry Potter books. However, in life we are often required to tackle challenges that take months or even years of perseverance and work. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying today’s fast-paced media and reading material, it is always helpful to try to finish classic works of literature or older, longer films. By forcing your brain to focus on longer tasks, you will be better equipped to deal with real life situations that require determination and persistence.

Featured photo credit: xflickrx via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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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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