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Hang Out With People That Intimidate You, It Will Better You

Hang Out With People That Intimidate You, It Will Better You

Most of us have felt intimidated by other people at one time or another in our lives. As children or teens, we were often intimidated by bullies or the most popular kids in school. As we grow to adulthood, we can feel intimidated by many kinds of people, even when there is no direct threat to us. We may feel this way in the presence of people who are beautiful, charismatic, famous, or smart. People who intimidate us as adults are also likely to have power and influence. In these cases, the feeling of intimidation comes from experiencing these two things simultaneously:

  • An admiration of someone because they possess a trait or traits deemed desirable by you and or by society.
  • Feelings of inadequacy in that person’s presence because of your perceived lack of these desirable traits in yourself.

While your natural inclination might be to avoid such people, spending time with them can really help you grow personally and professionally. Here are 5 things you will learn by hanging out with them:

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1. You will learn to conquer fear

When you learn to act in spite of your fears, you learn courage. Try going up to someone you feel intimidated by and introduce yourself to them. What’s the worse that can happen? You might feel embarrassed for something you say. But did the world end? No, life will go on. It’s more likely that the interaction is more positive than you ever imagined. Most importantly, you learn to act and reach out to people even when you are afraid. You will gain an advantage over others by creating more opportunities to form relationships with potentially influential people.

2. You will learn that everyone is human

We can’t help but put the people we admire on pedestals. We treat them in such a way that we forget that they are human beings like the rest of us. They too may even have fears and times in their lives when they felt intimidated. Remembering our common human connection can be a powerful reminder that the person we feel intimidated by may be yearning to be treated like a normal human being, not a superhuman.

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3. You will learn that everyone has a story

When you learn to engage people you feel you have nothing in common with, you might be surprised to learn that their life story is similar in some ways to yours. How can you learn their story? Just ask. People love to talk about themselves when given the opportunity. Dale Carnegie, in his book “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” says “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.” You may learn the story of how they came to be thought of as “intimidating.” You may even learn that they fall short in something that you have mastered. Learning their story will reduce feelings of inadequacy in their presence and improve your self esteem. If you truly listen to their story with interest, you will also win their admiration and respect.

4. You will learn new skills from them

People who excel often have acquired wisdom that we can all benefit from. Also, we tend to imitate the people we admire. If you want to learn how to “work a room”, spend time with a charismatic person. Learn what makes them attractive to others. It could be their warm smile, their positive attitude, or the captivating stories they tell. Ask them about what motivates them to stay positive when most people are not. You may learn some powerful insights that you can apply and benefit from in your own life.

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5. You will learn how to increase your confidence in dealing with people

The more you spend time with people that intimidate you, the more you will gain confidence in your ability to navigate personal interactions and relationships. You will learn how to approach and talk to all kinds of people. Indeed, if you can gain friendships with people that intimidate you, you can gain friendships with almost anyone. This will put you on a path of personal growth and personal and professional success.

So, what are you waiting for? Go hang out with that intimidating person in your life today.

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Featured photo credit: SEVENHEADS via pixabay.com

More by this author

Cylon George

A spiritual chaplain and blogger who writes about practical spiritual tips for busy people.

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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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