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Let’s Talk About Conflict

Let’s Talk About Conflict

Conflict is a tricky business. Some people prefer to get all of their frustrations out rather than keeping it all in, some even relish the experience. Here, The Daily Zen share their take on dealing with conflict:

“Don’t go to bed angry.  Stay up and fight.”

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Going to preface this by saying that I don’t mean fighting in the direct sense.  What I mean is that we should not let personal problems fester. Passive aggression is like a cancer and only worsens with time.  If you are having an internal quarrel with a friend, if you are losing respect for someone, if you are suddenly experiencing negative feelings towards someone you care about, do not let it sit.  It may need to for a while, but the longer you wait, the more potentially harmful the situation becomes.  And if you’re not careful, it will boil over, and people will get hurt.  The last thing you want to do is hurt someone you love because you were too afraid to talk to them.  That’s what they’re there for.  Friendship serves to comfort us through the trials of life and provide a real experiential meaning to this strange existence.  We need to give in order to get, and also to address problems when they arise instead of ignoring them.

There’s a real fallaciously harmful aspect of Eastern philosophy and New Age thought that avoids negativity.  It avoids conflict and all the ugly stuff people don’t want to deal with.  And you know what?  That’s what sells the most books.  It’s what drives the most hits to blog posts.  If I were to write about how perfect everything is all the time and how everyone should just love each other all the time and the universe is your best friend, maybe I’d land a book deal or get even more subscribed.  But that isn’t real, and we all know it deep down.  And, based on my experience, the people who subscribe too heavily to the hyper-positivistic New Age theosophy are often repressed or secretly miserable.  Positive thinking can become a defense mechanism to the detriment of good old fashioned honest feeling.  Sometimes we need conflict; sometimes we need to feel pain instead of transmute it into positivity.  It’s alright.

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And so, just as I’ve advised you to embrace sadness, I’ll say this: embrace conflict.  Don’t initiate it if possible, obviously, but for the sake of your own psychological well being and the benefit of everyone else, do not hide your feelings.  Your emotions set you apart from the beasts; they make you human.  You think and act, but you also feel, and these feelings cannot always be curated by ideology.  True emotion is unintentional, and to modify it we need to go deep into our mental caverns.  Sometimes you just need to sit in a room and hurt for a little while.  Sometimes you need to oversleep, or get angry with someone you love.  These things become problems when they are converted into habits, but as isolated incidents they allow for balance.  And at the end of the day, that’s what we can strive for:  balance.

You need to embrace your darkness, essentially.  If you’re feeling shitty, confront it.  Fight the dragon, don’t chase it away with ignorance or sex or drugs or false positivity.  You’ll only feel worse when the highs wear off.  Much worse.

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A close friend of mine came to me in distress recently.  I was, to be frank, being a dick.  I was being cold and distant and had no idea how to handle the situation as I’d never encountered anything like it in the past.  And he stepped forward and called me out, and that was definitely difficult for him.  And it was clearly too difficult for me to do anything about.  I became paralyzed, as we so often do, by the fear of what came next.  What future potential would be forfeited by my actions?  This often binds me and creates anxiety.  Close relationships can be too much for the uninitiated.  I am an introvert and value my solitude, and when I feel it’s being infringed upon I can become hostile.  Learning to be aware of what you make others feel is incredibly important and also quite difficult.

And so my friend brought up this issue and we talked it out.  We went back and forth and dealt with it with honesty, diligence and as much integrity as we could muster.  And it feels better now.  These squabbles allow for relationships to move from plateau to plateau instead of just stagnate and get stale.  As we go through life confronting what ails us rather than pushing it away, we recognize the beautiful relief that comes from fighting that which we fear and standing up for what is good.  Sometimes it takes a very long time to figure out how to properly articulate one’s feelings to another; sometimes the other person gets hurt and needs to confront us first.

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I hope to learn to recognize when I am being unintentionally cruel, passive or ignorant.  And please, for the good of everyone else, let’s make some sort of resolution to transcend these repressive urges and be human.  Sometimes two people need to get angry at one another.  Sometimes you have to share how you feel even if what you say is devastating.  And you may hear things you don’t want to hear, and you’ll most certainly have to deal with them.  You’ll become a fuller person because of it.

On Dealing With Conflict | The Daily Zen

Featured photo credit: Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here cover art by Storm Thorgerson via thedailyzen.org

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips 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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