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What You Never Realized When You Read a Postcard

What You Never Realized When You Read a Postcard

Thomas Aquinas wrote,

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Nowadays, it’s all too easy to become a slave to convenience. We look to technology to make our lives simpler, but don’t seem to have more time for the things that we say are most important to us, like our friends.

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Previous generations used to communicate by letter, and it seems to have become a lost art. Sending an email or picking up the phone to make a call may get the message across, but it doesn’t have the same intimacy as picking up a pen and committing words to paper. Writing postcards may seem like an old-fashioned choice, but it can teach us some wonderful lessons about friendship.

I’ll Make Time for You

Sending someone a postcard is not the same thing as firing off an email or a text message. For one thing, you have to take the time to go to a store and select a postcard. What type of design will you choose to send to your friend? Will it be something whimsical or will you share an image from someplace you have visited on holiday? You have a number of options available to you.

You may even want to pick up several postcards at once so that you have a supply on hand in case you want to write a note and put it in the post. It’s a good idea to have a supply of stamps on hand as well so that you aren’t left looking for supplies in that instance.

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Once you have made your selection, you’ll need to think about what you want to say. Even though the space on a postcard is limited, you still have to think about what you want to convey to your friend. In these minutes (or however long it takes you to compose your message), your thoughts are focused on that other person. Your friend is at the top of your list then. Everyone should have someone who will take time out of their busy schedule, however briefly, to focus on them exclusively for just a little while.

I Care About You

Never, ever discount how much it means to someone to know that someone cares enough to send a personal message. Speaking by phone does have the advantage of being an immediate form of communication, but once the conversation is over, your friend will have to rely on his or her memory to relive it. With a postcard, the message can be read (and enjoyed) many times.

Your friend can even choose to show your postcard to his or her friends and family. Another option would be to display it on his or her desk or a bulletin board. The postcard is small enough that it can be carried in a purse or a briefcase, where it can be removed and read often.

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Email messages can be printed and kept, but they don’t have the same ambiance that a postcard does. It would be very easy to mistake this correspondence for a bill, a receipt or another ordinary piece of paper. It could easily be discarded with the rubbish, and you would be left with no memory of your friend’s thoughtfulness.

A postcard is a distinctive piece of correspondence that is unlikely to be mistaken for anything else. It is tangible proof that you can hold in your hand that someone cared enough about you to write a few words and send them to you. They are precious and should be preserved.

I’m Not Afraid to Stand Out from the Rest

Letter and postcard writing is becoming a lost art. Very few people take the time to pick up a pen and write anything anymore. Choosing to write to a friend in this manner shows him or her that you are a steady, rock-solid person who appreciates traditional values.

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If your friend had any doubts that you were the type of person who would stand out from the crowd, choosing to send a postcard is one way to make a definitive statement. What do you say on your postcard? You can share anything you wish. If you would put it in an email (and people share all kinds of intimate information electronically, despite the possibility that their email account could be hacked), you can write it on a postcard.

You Are Important to Me

We live in the digital age, and getting rid of something we don’t like or want to see anymore can come down to a few clicks or pressing a button. Writing a postcard sends the signal that you think more of your friend than that. You are saying quite clearly that they are an important part of your life.

You took time out of your day, evening or night to write something down and make a permanent record of it. You sent it to your friend in a form that they could keep and refer to as often as they wish. This is not something you would do for a person who meant nothing to you. The space on a postcard is limited, which means you don’t have to feel pressured to write a huge amount of text to get your point across.

The best messages can be very simple. Tell your friend something about what you’re doing, where you are going, or simply that you are thinking of him or her. You can tell you friend that you miss him or her, are having a great time visiting [x], wish he or she was here, will be coming to visit on [x] or whatever makes sense for the situation. Write a joke or say, “I love you.” As long as you are sharing something positive and uplifting, why not tell your friend what’s on your mind?

Small Gestures Can Make a Huge Impact

No one would accuse you of buying someone’s friendship by sending a simple postcard, but this simple gesture of reaching out in friendship by writing a few words on a card can certainly make an excellent impression on a friend. It’s an easy way to let someone you care for know that they are special to you. Just about everyone likes receiving personal mail, and very few people take the time to send anything in this manner anymore. If you want to make a positive impression on your friend and let him or her know you care, take some time out of your day and send a personal greeting. You’ll be glad you did.

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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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