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Can Your Circle of Friends Influence Who You Are?

Can Your Circle of Friends Influence Who You Are?

Those you choose to surround yourself with are crucial to your life in their own individual ways, but can they actually have an influence over who you are as a person? The lovely Simon Alexander Ong shares his insights on whether your circle of friends can influence who you become:

For many years, I lived by the belief that how smart and talented I was, would be the single, most important factor in determining my level of success in life.

The grades I thought I had to achieve through sacrificing nights, weekends and holidays for. Having to consistently be regarded as one of the top performers in my class. And, how there had to be mastery of all subjects studied, regardless of interest.

Now, I’m not saying that these accomplishments were of no use at all. In fact, I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities and lessons, which I’ve received from the pursuit of academic excellence.

From entering adolescence, to hunting down my first job while at university, it has allowed me to understand that hard work and perseverance are essential ingredients to getting what you want out of life. They are the catalysts that help turn visions into reality.

What hit me over time however, and particularly in the last few years, is the fact that our success in life more often than not comes down to the people we choose to spend our time with.

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How smart you are.

How talented you are.

Where you were born.

The family environment you grew up in.

These may all play some role as to how successful you will be in life, but in comparison to the impact of surrounding yourself with people who can lift you higher, it doesn’t compare.

An individual maybe born into riches but live an unhappy life, while someone from more humble beginnings maybe able to manifest their dreams in record breaking time. All because of the company they keep, which influences their way of thinking and thus resulting in a mindset for success.

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Our habits determine the person we become. Environment optimisation is an important one that can have a profound impact on your well-being.

Want to be successful? Surround yourself with successful people.

Want to be happy? Surround yourself with happy people.

Want to be healthy? Surround yourself with healthy people.

Want to become more confident? Surround yourself with confident people.

In essence, we become more like the people we hang out with.

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It’s like what Jim Rohn tells us: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Take a moment to reflect on the following: Who are the people you spend most time with? Do they elevate you or bring you down? Are they proactive go-getters exhibiting qualities that you admire or people who just sit and criticise? Do they motivate or drain you?

The awesome thing about being around positive minded individuals, who have a habit of chasing their dreams and believe in taking responsibility for their lives, is that you’ll be inclined to grow in a positive direction as well.

They will have an impact on your thinking and consequently your behaviour. They will support you on your journey and move you towards inspired action.

Maximise the amount of time you spend with these people!

“Associate only with positive, focused people who you can learn from and who will not drain your valuable energy with uninspiring attitudes. By developing relationships with those committed to constant improvement and the pursuit of the best that life has to offer, you will have plenty of company on your path to the top of whatever mountain you seek to climb.” – Robin Sharma

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The amazing thing about where we are today in terms of technology, means that you can literally surround yourself with inspiring people (e.g. through Twitter, Facebook and audio books). As a result, I’ve put together a few ideas including these more modern methods, on how you can begin creating a more optimal environment for your personal growth and success:

  • Attend events in your local town/city that appeal to your interests, can help you learn something useful, or arouse your curiosity. Make sure to bring your business cards with you!
  • Seek out people who have skills/qualities that you admire and learn from them. Never assume that they have nothing to learn from you. We can always learn something from someone, regardless of where they are in their own life.
  • Minimise the time you spend hanging out with the wrong crowd and unhealthy influences, e.g. pessimists and those that can hurt your chances of achieving success.
  • Read more. Books, blogs, etc. You will be exposed to inspiring success stories, expand your library of knowledge and nurture your creative thinking.
  • Listen to audiobooks/podcasts when you are commuting and/or relaxing.
  • Follow inspirational people and those who you can learn from on social media channels.
  • Subscribe to newsletters, which will add value to your life and help you towards your goals in life.
  • Keep perspective. While it’s important to spend your time with those who are more successful than you, it is also great for your development to be around those who are at the same stage as you (so ideas and the journey can be shared) and those below you, who you can inspire and share your wisdom with.
  • Spend less time in front of the TV and your smartphone, and more time getting out there and connecting with people. You just never know what it might lead to!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above and how you’ve benefited from both the power of relationships and a supportive environment.

To Your Success!

Simon

    As a Life Designer and Success Strategist, Simon Alexander Ong helps people create a life and career they love through unlocking their unique talents and inner awesomeness. He will be featured in the forthcoming book by Steve Forbes, titled SuccessOnomics, due for release in Spring 2014. To find out more, head over to http://simonalexanderong.com.

    How Your Circle of Friends Influence Who You Become | Simon Alexander Ong

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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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