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Lose Your Landline, Now

Lose Your Landline, Now

Telephone

    I don’t have a landline in my apartment. And since I work from home, that means that I don’t have a landline for my work either. I haven’t had a landline for almost four years now, and I’m okay.

    While not everyone is in a position to get rid of his or her landlines, I’ve found that — in general — losing the landline can really help simplify life. After all, without a landline, you don’t have to worry about

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    • the expense of a landline (including long distance!)
    • remembering to pay at least one bill
    • checking messages
    • waiting by the phone

    Your Cell Phone

    Odds are good these days that you have a cell phone. I can honestly think of exactly one person I know who doesn’t have one: my grandmother, who is always with my grandfather and his cell phone. In fact, I received an email last week from my alma mater announcing a change in the dorms there. The school is no longer providing any sort of phone service in student housing, because no one uses it. If an institution providing housing to hundreds of people can afford to ditch landlines, why can’t you?

    There are some crucial benefits to a cell phone over a landline, as well. Long distance always comes to mind: if you have a telephone in your home or office with long distance, the odds are that you are paying extra for that service — whether your phone bill is broken down that way or not. Call waiting, caller ID and half a dozen other services are treated the same way. But most cellular contracts toss all those ‘premium’ features in at no extra cost.

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    Skype and Other Online Services

    I admit there are some times that a cell phone may not cut it. If, for instance, you’re traveling overseas, calling back home may be prohibitively expensive. But I’ve had a lot of success with Skype, even when calling non-Skype users. (If you aren’t familiar with Skype, rather than rehashing its uses here, I’d suggest looking over The Simple Dollar’s brand new introduction to Skype.)

    Skype, and its competitors, have a clear payoff compared to landlines: most offer at free calling within their systems — that is, if both people on the call are members of the service — and all offer inexpensive calls off their systems. If you can convince everyone you call to install Skype on their computers, you can make all of your calls for free. That’s a little unlikely, admittedly, but if many of your calls go to the same people, you may be able to get those people signed up. I’ve got both of my parents on Skype these days — I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person they talk to on their computers, but we talk often enough that we’re all saving money.

    Get It In Writing

    One of the greatest benefits I’ve had from using only my cell phone, honestly, is the fact that I’ve come to rely more heavily on email. While that can sound bad — it conjures up images of an inbox full to bursting — it can be a good thing. To get the information I need in a phone call, I might end up talking to a person for fifteen minutes. But if I’ve asked a person to email me details, rather than call me, I can sort out what my next actions are in a minute or less. And while I can choose what phone calls I’ll answer based on phone numbers, I can set up more robust rules for handling email.

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    The Fax Dilemma

    One of the biggest struggles for me and my sans landline office has been faxing. I’ve worked on plenty of contracts where the easiest options for clients was faxing signed documents back and forth. Depending on your industry, the people you work with may be uncomfortable with digitally signing documents — or entirely unaware that such a possibility exists.

    But there are quite a few options for online fax services — most are not free, but the cost is almost always less than maintaining a fax line for the occasional document. Services such as Fax Digits and FaxZero offer either sending or receiving for free, so there are some work-arounds if you want to try to eliminate your fax budget entirely.

    Out of Range

    Landlines do have some things going for them over cell phones: they don’t drop calls, can have a lot less static and never run out of battery (assuming we aren’t talking about cordless models). But how often are you away from your home or office? Compare that time to how often your cell phone is out of range.

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    I know I would have the use of a landline significantly less of the time than a cell phone — which is also available at the same time as a landline. For me, at least, a somewhat more reliable instrument isn’t enough reason to justify two phone bills. Of course, a person could choose to jettison his cell phone rather than his landline, but I just don’t see that happening in most households.

    Shelve the Antique

    A phone that you can’t take with you when you go is rapidly becoming an antique. While there are some homes and offices that still need landlines, there are plenty of people who can do without — and improve both their finances and their productivity in the process. It may be time to take a good long look at your telephone needs and see if you’re one of them.

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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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