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Share Your Secrets to Be The Change

Share Your Secrets to Be The Change

    In any field with stuff worth learning, knowledge-hoarding is shamefully rampant. Have you ever asked someone you admired about how they made something you’re curious about, only to be rebuffed that “It’s a secret”? It’s happened to me 100s of times, and still, I press on to other sources.

    After all, there may be magic in mystery, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a congested artery when it comes to letting the knowledge flow.

    A rather peaceful dude, Gandhi, is famed for saying “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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    And a man who changed the world and influenced its leaders, Alvin Toffler, said: “Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.” He also said, “Knowledge is promiscuous. It mates and gives birth to more knowledge.”

    It sounds like a riddle, but knowledge has no bedfellows. Knowledge is a resource that becomes more plentiful as it’s used. Like oil or diamonds, there may be conflicts over knowledge, but unlike those materials, knowledge becomes more abundant as it’s applied.

    One of the greatest things is to be is a teacher, and I don’t just mean in school: I mean as a spreader of knowledge, a beacon of… enlightenment.

    If that sounds too vague, here are encouraging reasons which will work wonders for you:

    Sharing secrets creates an abundant culture

    To be clear, I’m not talking about revealing identities in the Witness Protection Program or doing anything that’d harm lives, but sharing healthy secrets that others can improve on.

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    Open source is a fine example when it comes to “abundant culture” in action: chances are even if you don’t know what it is and what it stands for, you’ve reaped some of the benefits. You may have never heard of Apache, but it’s the webserver technology that powers over 1/2 of the world’s websites. By sharing openly, proliferation, adoption, and usage of useful tools can be exponentially increased.

    On a related note, Creative Commons has allowed artists to enhance their artistry by sampling and remixing each others’ works without fear of being dampened by complex laws, becoming better creators in the process. Which relates to…

    Sharing secrets makes life simpler

    One of the reason why the Internet is so popular is because there’s so much sharing of secrets — and still, there are an infinite amount of unanswered questions! Whether it’s blogs or wikis, forums or social networking sites, people want to learn — even if they don’t say it.

    A resource I adore is The Straight Dope, which has grown a profuse web community out of a line of hit books. Their mission? To explore and expose plenty of life’s biggest question marks. Like hiccups.

    Even with paid staff on numerous sites, time and time again, we see that there are impressive amounts of volunteers who go out of their way to offer assistance and help solve secretive problems.

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    Great rule of thumb: if you battled your way through a problem and found an answer, you owe it to yourself and the world to share your solution. Spending some time to do this, likely at most a few hours, can create a rippleshock effect which ends up saving far more time than what you originally invested. I do this for a living and a hobby, and here’s a specific example. And since happiness often accompanies simplicity, you should know…

    Sharing secrets makes life happier

    We have enough problems and don’t need to invent more. You may’ve heard that the guilt of a weighty secret “eats you up”. I think that’s also true for stuff you want to share, but may be shy to. Perhaps there’s a nasty stigma associated with it.

    But realizing that simply talking about a problem can be incredibly empowering. Ever heard of Oprah Winfrey? The whole basis of her immensely successful talk show is personal confession and talking about life experiences. Oprah’s done drugs, had weight issues, suffered abusive relationships, and was raped… among many other aches. She’s talked about all these, and in the process, empowered herself and the many millions who can relate to her.

    Oprah didn’t begin with such an audience, but grew it over time, as more and more people came to adore her for being open, candid, and earnest. Eventually, some of her viewers would also go on to share their secrets, bettering more lives.

    Lift that weight off, and share a secret. It may not be clear who you’re helping yet, especially if you’ve decided to blog about it, but if sharing secrets helps you cope or deal with a pain, it’ll help someone else too.

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    People love “behind-the-scenes” insight

    Everyone knows the cinema is loaded with fictional movies. That doesn’t stop us from enjoying the DVD extras showing “the making of”: from interviews with cast and crew to commentary tracks to wireframe sketches (as Pixar is fond of doing), it doesn’t diminish the greatness of a polished work.

    Rather, showing what went into something helps you appreciate it even more. Brian Transeau aka BT, the versatile electronic musician, has given numerous at-length insights into his production techniques. That’s very unusual in snobby dance music scenes. What’s it done for him? Garnered many fans, encouraged other producers to try out (and thus be influenced by) his suggestions, and advanced the functionality of music-making programs. Furthermore, it’s challenged him to keep changing and growing.

    Coming up with new secrets then sharing them later is all part of the fun.

    Secret-sharers are heroes

    Conflict is inevitable in our existence. It’s no coincidence that if you share secrets that enlighten fellow humans, some tightminded folks will crawl out of the woodwork and bash you for letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. If it can happen to Bruce Lee opening up kung fu to the masses, it can happen to you. Don’t worry, your nemeses are just trying to cover up their sheer lack of progress while you blaze new trails.

    That’s why being a secret-sharer requires bravery. And who’s brave? A hero!

    You’ll be known as a generous person

    Everyone, with the exception of Scrooge, loves generosity. Your pockets may not be lined with bling, but if you get the word out about a useful secret that saves people time & trouble, whether it’s an overlooked discount code or an obscure Firefox add-on that makes their online life easier, you’ve contributed something positive.

    You’ll be remembered for that.

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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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