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Why You Should Stop Reading Things About Change And Start To Change

Why You Should Stop Reading Things About Change And Start To Change

Do you have your driver’s license? Do you know how to ride a bike? How about how to use a Smartphone? These must probably seem like silly examples, but bear with me a little. If you only study the theory side of driving a car, you wouldn’t be able to drive, right?  If you only read about learning how to ride, you would probably fall off the first few times you tried. If you read the manual on your new phone, you won’t suddenly be able to master all of its functions.

The same applies with change: you can read a million self-help books, which will give you advice, tools, motivation, and guidance, but unless you put the book down and apply what you learn, your efforts will remain fruitless. Have you ever wondered why there is a wealth of information out there, yet so many people struggle to apply it? Because that is the hardest part, change, and it happens when we stop reading and start doing.

Here are 5 reasons why you should stop reading things about change and start to change now.

1.  Activating the information

When it comes to change, reading alone will certainly not get you any new results; you need to activate what you have learned. You might read some great information that is really motivating, find some great tips, feel inspired, and then… you put the book down and what really changes? What are you doing differently?

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If you are reading a book about how to be more confident, for example, but you don’t apply any of the suggestions, what good is it? Will you become more confident? Unless certain information is applied, it remains useless.

2.  Change is habitual

When you want to change, you must understand that change is habitual. It is not about reading facts, memorizing them, and having a good understanding. I believe one of the reasons many individuals can easily read many books on change, but then struggle to change successfully is because of the resistance one feels when trying to change a habit.

Most change requires change some type of habit or way of doing something. However, your brain is actually predisposed to resisting change, so understandably, it isn’t going to be easy. You have a natural tendency to move away from change and anything that puts you out of your comfort zone, the new or the unknown. You need to do more than just read if you want to change what isn’t working.

3.  You will never know if it works until you try

Perhaps you have read some amazing techniques and tools that you would like to apply to your life. Imagine, you test a few techniques out, and to your surprise, they just really don’t resonate with you.

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This is normal; what works for someone else might not work for you, but you would never know unless you first tried. Change is about trial and error, and reading alone makes this impossible. Until you put the book down and try to change, you will never know.

4.  Change is ongoing

Change can be challenging for some and easier for others; however, change is certainly ongoing. It isn’t a once-off effort; you need to try, test, monitor, and test. Go through what is working and what isn’t working until you have successfully changed what you initially set out to do.

You can’t just make one attempt. Perhaps you need to make a few attempts, but either way, you can’t attempt anything if you are simply reading.

5.  Reading alone gives you a false sense of accomplishment and effort

Many individuals feel that if they are making the effort to read, study, and delve into hundreds of articles that will be enough to change. You might carry a false sense that if you are reading, you are making a change, and therefore, things will change.

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If you find you are always reading but you never take action and don’t know why, explore the possibility that you might be procrastinating because you resist change, even though you can see the benefits. Perhaps as you are resisting change, you spend a lot of time reading about it, but not taking a first step because you are not ready. Spend some time reflecting on this if this resonates with you.

MOVING FORWARD

Hopefully I have convinced you to stop reading and start doing. What’s next? Well, it certainly depends on what you are reading, but here are some general guidelines that should give you some targeted direction moving forward.

1. Get crystal clear on what you want to change/improve and why

What exactly do you want to change and why? How will your life be different if you make this change successfully?
First, start with making one change at a time and put all of your energy into reaching it. Secondly, get clear on the why. Change is never easy; you must expect to face some form of resistance, so you need to know exactly why you are doing what you are doing and use this to motivate yourself when you need it most. Give yourself a reward as well when you reach your objective.

2. Write down the ways in which things will be different

Change implies doing things differently, so what exactly will you be doing differently? You must be clear on not only what you want to improve, but what you need to do to make it happen. Write down what you usually do (how it is now) and then your ‘new’ way of doing (what will be different).

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3. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of success

If you want to boost your chances of real change, consider these 4 important questions:

  • What resources do you have to support you in reaching this objective?
  • What resources will you need that you don’t currently have?
  • What potential obstacles could come up?
  • What can you do to overcome them?

Monitor your progress, tweak what isn’t working, and build on your success until you make the change successfully.

What are you waiting for?  Stop reading things about change and start to change. This is the only way you are going to see different results; thinking alone will not cut it, so you need to take a step forward and make things happen.

You cannot expect to read alone and then experience different results, as this is not possible. Are you going to invest more time and money in reading or are you going to invest your time in activating what you know and getting better results? You always have a choice!

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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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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