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Hang Out With Happy People — It Might Be Contagious

You can actually catch a good mood or a bad mood from your friends, according to a recent study in the journal Royal Society Open Science. But that shouldn’t stop you from hanging out with pals who are down in the dumps, say the study authors: Thankfully, the effect isn’t large enough to push you into depression.

The new study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that happiness and sadness—as well as lifestyle and behavioral factors like smoking, drinking, obesity, fitness habits and even the ability to concentrate—can spread across social networks, both online and in real life. But while many previous studies have only looked at friendship data at one point in time, this is one of the few that measured social and mood changes over time.

This method was able to show how friends actually influenced each other, and helped rule out the possibility that similarities between friends exist simply because people tend to gravitate toward and hang out with others like themselves.The new research involved groups of junior-high and high-school students who took part in depression screenings and answered questions about their best friends, many of whom were also enrolled in the study. In total, 2,194 students were included in the analysis, which used a mathematical model to look for connections among friend networks.

Overall, kids whose friends suffered from bad moods were more likely to report bad moods themselves—and they were less likely to have improved when they were screened again six months to a year later. When people had more happy friends, on the other hand, their moods were more likely to improve over time.

Some symptoms related to depression—like helplessness, tiredness and loss of interest—also seemed to follow this pattern, which scientists call “social contagion.” But this isn’t something sneaky and insidious that people need to worry about, says lead author Robert Eyre, a doctoral student at the University of Warwick’s Center for Complexity Science. Rather, it’s likely just a “normal empathetic response that we’re all familiar with, and something we recognize by common sense,” he says.

In other words, when a friend is going through a rough patch, it makes sense that you’ll feel some of their pain, and it’s certainly not a reason to stay away. But the fact that these negative feelings do spread across networks does have important health implications, says Eyre.

“The good news from our work is that following the evidence-based advice for improving mood—like exercise, sleeping well and managing stress—can help your friends too,” he says.

The study also found that having friends who were clinically depressed did not increase participants’ risk of becoming depressed themselves. “Your friends do not put you at risk of illness,” says Eyre, “so a good course of action is simply to support them.” To boost both of your moods, he suggests doing things together that you both enjoy—and taking other friends along to further spread those good feelings, too.’

 

Amanda MacMillan / Health.com   Sep 22, 2017   TIME Health
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9 Secrets Of The World’s Longest Living People

What is the secret to longevity, and why do some people attain it while others don’t? Is it sheer luck, or are there some key factors at play here? Are we all born with the same potential to live a long and healthy life or is that determined solely by genetics?

Interestingly, it seems as though people living in specific regions of the world tend to live longer than those living elsewhere. So, what is it about these specific regions that offer people a chance to live a full life? This was the question that National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner wanted to answer.

Through his research, Buettner identified five geographic locations where people have been observed to live the longest. He has identified these regions as “Blue Zones,” and found that even though these zones differ widely geographically, the diets and lifestyles of their residents share much in common.

You don’t have to live in one of these areas to ensure longevity, however, and if you are looking to live a long and healthy life then you may want to consider the following observations.
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What Are the Most Effective Ways to Achieve Longevity?

In Western society, the idea of growing older is not necessarily celebrated or anticipated. It is actually often feared, as we associate old age with chronic pain and disease. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and with some awareness and vision, we too can have a long and purposeful life despite our geographical location.

In the following video, Dan Buettner reveals what he has discovered are the secrets to longevity and the habits and traits shared by those who live the longest. Some of them might shock you, but as Buettner says, “If you ask the average American what the optimal formula for longevity is, they probably couldn’t tell you.” This is a pretty telling statement — many of us are simply unaware of the key lifestyle factors that contribute to health and vitality.

Here are the nine things we can take away from this presentation.

1. Slow Down and Deal With Stress

Common amongst those living in blue zones was effectively dealing with stress when it arises, and in many cases living lifestyles that do not cause a lot of excess stress in the first place. Taking time to slow things down and enjoy life was a common theme throughout Buettner’s studies.

2. Have a Purpose

Having a reason to get out of bed every day, especially for seniors, was essential. Simply put, finding something to do on a regular basis keeps us happy and helps us live longer.

3. Eat Less

Buettner observed the eating habits of various cultures in these regions, and all ate sparingly. The eating habits of the Okinawans specifically demonstrated an aversion to excess. They know that the feeling of fullness comes after the meal is completed so, rather than stuffing themselves until they feel full, they stop eating before they feel full, knowing the feeling will come after. They also eat off small plates and prepare small portions.

4. Eat a Variety of Foods and Lots of Plants 

Common among all Blue Zones was the amount and variety of plant-based foods that were being consumed. Having a diet consisting of predominantly plant-based foods proves to be a key factor in longevity regardless of your geographical location.

5. Be Social

In America, elderly people are often put into care homes and lead very lonely and isolated lives. Something all of the Blue Zones have in common is a strong sense of community that includes the older people. Instead of shunned and forgotten, older people are celebrated and included.

6. Have Faith

A large percentage of those living in Blue Zones had faith. They believed in a higher purpose for life, be it religious or spiritual.

7. Drink in Moderation or Not At All

It seems this one was a bit of a toss up. People either enjoyed a glass of wine or two daily or didn’t drink at all. In either case, Buettner did not see people drinking to excess.

8. Move Naturally

People who live in Blue Zones tend to move a lot throughout the day, but they aren’t making a point to do it — it just comes naturally. Their daily activities include gardening, walking, and spending time outdoors.

9. Put Loved Ones First

People in Blue Zones tend to stay close to their family members. Parents and grandparents play a big role in the lives of their children and they stay connected and close by, remaining an integral part of each other’s lives.

 

ALANNA KETLERMAY 18, 2017


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The Solution to Millennial Loneliness

How do we stop being so lonely?

On a cold, moonless night, the co-owner of Macy’s department store and his wife were aboard the sinking Titanic. Mrs. Straus distributed blankets to the women and children in Life Boat No. 8. But, when asked to enter the lifeboat herself, she refused to leave Mr. Straus’s side. “All these years we have traveled together, and shall we part now? No, our fate is one,” she explained. Two sailors tried to force her in, and she wrangled herself free, looking at her husband. “Where you go, I go,” she said. The couple was last seen arm in arm on the deck, the finale of their forty years together.

Today, a different sentiment dominates. It’s closer to, “Where you go, I might consider visiting.” The individual comes first.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why millennials are lonely. In short, it’s because loneliness is contagious (literally), and the internet exacerbates it. Our “infectious isolation,” I concluded, is mounting.

This is problematic for lots of reasons: In animals, social isolation shortens lifespan, promotes obesity and diabetes, hinders psychosexual development, and increases cortisol levels. In humans, social isolation has, according to Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “an impact on health comparable to the effect of high blood pressure, lack of exercise, obesity or smoking.” Socially isolated people are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease. They’re also more stressed, less creative, have lower self-esteem, and feel less in control of their lives than non-lonely people.

So how do we stop being lonely?

I think the answer starts with priorities. Social connection has become less important to us. One large cross-sectional study found that subjective loneliness actually declined slightly between 1978 and 2009 in adolescents, while objective social isolation increased. High school students in 2009, the study’s authors write, “reported fewer friends with whom to interact, but less desire for more friends.” Meanwhile, empathy decreased, and insecure attachments increased.

This is consistent with my own experience. Since graduating college, I’ve put friendships on the back burner. I even emailed someone wanting to grab coffee a couple months ago that “I’m just incapable of making friends right now. There’s a little too much going on with work.” The fact that today many people’s best friends are from college may attest to the amount of effort we put into friendships after college.

When I was suffering from a bout of loneliness last year, my boyfriend told me to just go out and meet people. Well, I’m not that lonely, I thought. But recovering from our society-wide isolation will require effort.

Just meeting people, however, isn’t enough. We also need to sacrifice for them. In response to my last article, several readers pointed out that trust is missing from many modern friendships. I think trust is the feeling that someone has your back no matter what. And, today, the truth is very few people do.

In a 2012 op-ed for the New York Times, Sherry Turkle wrote that we’re “increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.” Millennials may be lonely not just from insufficient social interaction, but also due to insufficient social obligation.

Generational researcher Jean Twenge has found that millennials are significantly more likely than adolescents in the 1970s to describe themselves using traits like “independent” and “assertive.” The resulting gains from this attitude are real, and shouldn’t be discounted — particularly for women. But it’s also, in a way, too bad.

My friends and I have talked about how you never know whether to stay in a city, because your friends could leave soon for some better job somewhere else. If you stayed, hoping they’d stick around, you’re SOL. (Even the prospect that you’d consider them before your career is embarrassing.) Our solution to get everyone to stay put, we joke, is to build a commune. But we know that will never happen. And we know, if we get a better opportunity elsewhere, we’ll leave.

Our commune dream is for something quasi-contractual to keep us together. This is also why, though millennials are marrying later, many of us quietly crave a ring. But marriage, indeed, is a perfect example of our stubborn determination to be a, or at least give, the bird: we’re marrying later — by an average of six years since 1960 — to extend our geographic and professional autonomy.

Amazingly, research has found that attachment to even just a place reduces loneliness. If everyone decided to remain in the same city or town for a lifetime, as they did for centuries before now, we’d receive the two best remedies for loneliness: a home and a community.

I know that’s unrealistic. But before genuine connection sinks altogether, it’s worth thinking about what such a loss would actually mean. Seventeenth-century English poet John Donne wrote that, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” We like to believe we’re floating free. But we need each other, and acting otherwise results more in isolation than true independence.

A version of this article originally appeared on Forbes.
Apr 25, 2017    Caroline Beaton      The Gen-Y Guide


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8 Things Mentally Healthy People Do Differently

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is importance at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Most times when we hear something, anything, being discussed about mental health, the context is usually negative. For example, we’ll often watch news anchors explain that some violent act was committed by someone known to have “mental health issues.” Less frequently discussed are the positive aspects of mental health – something that we’d like to focus on today. We believe this to be important, as research shows a steady increase in the proliferation of mental health problems.

More specifically, we discuss how mentally healthy people think.

The rationale for this article is to provide a common set of psychological traits in “mentally healthy” people; traits which can then be used as a sort-of “benchmark” for gaining potential insight into our own mental health.

First, three important side notes: (1) nobody is perfectly healthy, neither physically or mentally, (2) this piece is written for entertainment purposes, and (3) should you believe that you suffer from a psychological disorder, it is recommended to seek out help or talk to someone.

HERE ARE EIGHT THINGS MENTALLY HEALTHY PEOPLE DO DIFFERENTLY:

1. THEY HAVE A POSITIVE SOCIAL CIRCLE

Steven Joyal, M.D., and vice president of scientific affairs and medical development at a non-profit mental health research institute, states: “The idea that social interaction is important to mental and physical health has been hinted at and studied for years.”

Per a meta-study conducted at Brigham Young University, which analyzed 148 studies of over 300,000 subjects, a positive social circle has a direct effect on mortality. Researchers concluded that this positive correlation is a direct reflection on the intangible benefits of an active social circle – namely, a circle that counteracts stress through comfort and companionship.

2. THEY ARE PROACTIVE, RATHER THAN REACTIVE

The inclination to consistently improve oneself, as opposed to simply reacting to environmental stimuli, is directly connected to mental health. Having a proactive mindset displays self-awareness and a willingness to work towards a long-term goal.

In short, a proactive mindset manifests into a positive mind state, while a reactive mindset demonstrates a lack of self-control – a trait that often evolves into problems with mental health.

3. THEY CARE FOR THEIR BODY

Understanding that one’s body is directly connected to one’s mind is a vital piece of knowledge. A physically active lifestyle is an ubiquitous tendency among those with a healthy state of mind.

Combining a physically active lifestyle with healthy dietary habits is a clear indication that one is mentally healthy. Those that lack either are more prone to mental health issues.

woman universe

4. THEY POSSESS GOOD EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence is simply the ability to understand emotions and their subsequent impacts on mind and body. Capably interpreting what’s going on inside your mind and body subsequently enables you to do something about them.

5. THEY ARE SELF-GUIDED AND PRODUCTIVE

Being able to guide yourself in a positive way is a surefire sign of mental health. People with mental health problems are often a “victim” of their circumstances. In contrast, mentally healthy people are able to understand their situation and make something positive happen.

If you’re setting goals and making them part of your daily life, you are likely both disciplined and mentally-healthy. Giving way to instant gratification and/or always feeling lethargic may indicate a problem.

6. THEY’RE IN CONTROL OF THEIR BEHAVIOR

The rare ability to resist most temptations and negative impulses is a sign of mental health. Why? Because to do so requires self-knowledge, resilience, and willpower; three attributes commonly absent within those with a mental health problem.

Furthermore, you’re able to consistently adhere to a positive routine. This is important, as a positive routine is often an indication of a positive state of mind.

7. THEY ACCEPT THEMSELVES FOR WHO THEY ARE

Sadly, many people with a negative self-image often succumb to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Having a positive (not necessarily a “high”) sense of self-worth often indicates a healthy state of mind.

It’s important to understand that we all have things we wish to improve upon. The difference lies in the reaction to such desires. Mentally healthy people will devise a plan, whilst those not so healthy will remain in a static state of mind.

Which leads us to the final item on this list…

8. THEY HAVE EXCELLENT SELF-REALIZATION SKILLS

The current “situation,” whether good or bad, great or terrible, is more astutely interpreted in those with a healthy state of mind. It’s not altogether more uncommon for a mentally healthy person to find themselves in a bad scenario; they just recognize it sooner and take the appropriate, more productive actions.

Those in a negative state of mind – be it “mentally ill” or whatever – are less likely to realize the adverse situation and do something about it.

SOURCES:
CASSERLY, M. (2010, AUGUST 24). FRIENDS WITH HEALTH BENEFITS. RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 06, 2017, FROM HTTP://WWW.FORBES.COM/2010/08/24/HEALTH-RELATIONSHIPS-LONGEVITY-FORBES-WOMAN-WELL-BEING-SOCIAL-ISOLATION.HTML
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?. (N.D.). RETRIEVED FEBRUARY 06, 2017, FROM HTTPS://WWW.MENTALHEALTH.GOV/BASICS/WHAT-IS-MENTAL-HEALTH/


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11 Ways Men And Women Think Differently

Men and women are different. There are some good biological reasons for that. Studies of brain scans of men and women show that women tend to use both sides of their brain because they have a larger corpus callosum. This is the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain and allows women to share information between those two halves of the brain faster than men. Men tend to use the left side of the brain which is the more logical and rational side of the brain. Scans also reveal other interesting ways in which men and women do things differently or process information differently from each other.

HERE ARE 11 WAYS MEN AND WOMEN THINK DIFFERENTLY:

1. PERCEPTION
Women have smaller brains that are more tightly packed with connections. This allows them to perform better at tasks involving the bigger picture and situational thinking. A man’s brain tends to perform better at spatial thinking involving recognizing patterns and problem solving with objects in a spatial environment.

2. ONE TRACK MIND
Men tend to excel better at singular tasks while women are better at juggling a number of tasks at once. This may stem from the primordial male role of the hunter who is fixated on a singular objective while the traditional female role of manager of the home forced her to juggle many tasks simultaneously.

3. SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
Women tend to perform better in social situations than men do. Men tend to excel at more abstract thinking and task-oriented jobs. Again, this may stem from the traditional gender roles whereby women had to work together to accomplish more complex tasks while men spent more time alone stalking prey.

4. DEALING WITH EMOTIONS
Women have a larger limbic system in their brains which allows them to be more in touch and expressive about their emotions. Men tend to be a little oblivious with emotions that are not explicitly verbalized. Men tend to be more logical in their thinking and dismiss information that is not directly involved with the issue they are tackling. Women tend to be much more empathetic and susceptible to emotions influencing their thinking.

5. DO THE MATH
Men tend to have larger inferior parietal lobules than women. This area of the brain is thought to control mathematical ability and processes. Men tend to do better with math because of this. This isn’t to say that there are not women who are great at math, but that men have a small biological advantage when it comes to math and logic based skills.

men women

6. DEALING WITH PAIN
The amygdala is the area of the brain responsible for pain. Pain is activated in either the right (men) or left (women) hemispheres. The right side is more connected with external stimuli, while the left is more connected to internal stimuli. Women tend to feel pain more intensely than men do because of this.

7. LEARN LANGUAGES
Women tend to be better at learning languages and are more attuned to words and sounds. This may be why men tend to find it harder to express themselves verbally. It may stem from the increased demand on women over millions of years to cooperate and organize in order to manage large complex tasks.

8. WOMEN REMEMBER BETTER
Women have tend to have higher activity in their hippocampus, the region responsible for forming and storing memories, than men do. Studies have shown that women tend to remember faces, names, objects and events better than men.

9. ASK FOR DIRECTIONS
Men tend to have better spatial-reasoning skills and are better at remembering geographic details. They tend to have a better innate sense of direction and remember where areas and locations are. This ability most likely stems from their days as hunters when men had to navigate long distances without the aid of a map and compass.

10. RISK TAKING
Men tend to be more likely to take risks. Women tend to be more risk averse. Men get a bigger dose of endorphins when they take risks. The bigger the risk, the larger the pleasure derived from the risky behavior. Men may be specialized to take more risks because of early human’s need to hunt down food which may be larger, stronger and more dangerous than a single man. Hunting is also inherently dangerous as some predator may be stalking you while you are stalking another prey animal.

11. SEX
Men tend to be more visual in what arouses them, while women tend to be turned on by a combination of things like ambiance, emotions, scents as well as visual perceptions.

While equal, men and women have different biological strengths and weaknesses. These differences may stem from a very long period of specialization between genders. Humans have been hunter/gatherers much longer than we have been civilized farmers and tradesmen. This long period of adaptation to changing environments may be responsible in some small part for traditional gender roles based on biology and physical specialization. Men and women, while different, are complementary like a knife and a fork.

SOURCES:
HTTP://WWW.FITBRAIN.COM/BLOG/WOMEN-MEN-BRAINS/
HTTP://WWW.WEBMD.COM/BRAIN/FEATURES/HOW-MALE-FEMALE-BRAINS-DIFFER#2
 


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5 Crucial Reasons You Should Talk More

Have you ever been sitting on a subway or plane and felt annoyed because the person sitting next to you keeps trying to chat and chat and chat with you?

One thing we know about human nature is that there are introverts and extroverts in this world, and everyone falls somewhere on that continuum. Some people seem to be programmed to talk and engage, and others are genetically programmed the opposite way.

But what makes some people less talkative than others? Is it as simple as genetics? I don’t think so.

Wives complain about their husbands’ one-word responses; my clients often tell me that they feel a deep loneliness, even when they are surrounded by people. I’ve heard many stories about lovely folks standing alone at parties, feeling awkward and waiting until enough time passed so that they could go home.

Are all of these people introverts? Maybe, but many of them had another good reason to be in their predicaments. Unbeknownst to them, they had built a wall between themselves and everyone else. A wall that acted as a hurdle for the words that they could and should speak. A wall that took their voice, and bounced it right back at them. A wall that whispered,

That’s not important enough to say

Talking is annoying

Talking is useless

You have nothing to offer in this conversation

Sadly, all of these people are being deprived of one of nature’s most valuable tools: communication, and all of the wonderful benefits that come with it.

conversation

 

5 Reasons You Should Talk More

  1. Boost your mood: Imagine running errands, feeling hurried. Anxiously waiting in line at CVS the woman standing behind you says, “Excuse me can I ask you a question? Where did you get those shoes? My husband’s been looking for some just like that and can’t find them anywhere.” You have a brief discussion in which you make a tiny joke and she laughs. Studies show that these types of small, meaningless encounters boost your mood. A connecting moment with another human being releases a neurotransmitter in your brain called oxytocin. This chemical has been shown by research to have an anti-anxiety effect. It gives you a feeling of well-being, and may increase human empathy. It’s not just you; the woman you just spoke with will have a similar boost in mood.
  2. Think things through: Talking with a stranger at CVS is one thing. Talking with a trusted person you are close with is quite another. There is great value in saying aloud something that you are working on in your mind. Worried about your daughter? Wondering if you should change jobs? Thinking you should buy a new car? Simply putting what’s in your head out there to another person forces you to own it. The response of the other person gives you input. This back-and-forth process helps you draw new conclusions and may even give you new ideas. It’s all good.
  3. Become more interesting: Talking less may feel safer. You’re unlikely to offend another person by saying nothing to them. However, the risk of being a quiet person is appearing uninteresting to others. Putting something out there (almost anything) gives others something to grab onto and something to remember you by. Unless you’re gabbing on and on about minutia, talking makes you relatable and interesting.
  4. Rewire your brain: If you’re a non-talker, you are probably being stopped by a combination of introversion, (which is fine and great; we’re not trying to change that here); and your wall. The wall was likely erected in your childhood as a result of subtle or overt messages from your family that your voice was not particularly welcome or interesting. Overriding those messages now as an adult, as often as you can, automatically starts to break through that wall. You can rewire your brain over time, and talking and interacting will become easier and easier for you.
  5. Have deeper, more valuable relationships: Every word you say empowers you. Every word allows other people in your life to know you better. Every word you say encourages another person to say something back, which allows you to know them better. The better you know each other, the deeper your relationship goes. Deeper relationships are more meaningful, more resilient and more valuable than shallow ones.

If you are an introvert, the idea of talking more may feel energy-draining. If that’s the case, it’s important to listen to your body’s needs and take care of yourself. However, research shows that talking and engaging with other people more actually makes introverts happier. So there is a balance, and it’s important not to give up to silence.

Reduce your anxiety, become more interesting, break through your wall, and improve your relationships. All can come from one little habit that you can cultivate in yourself.

SO TALK

To learn more about the messages you received in childhood,
your wall, and how to overcome it all,
see EmotionalNeglect.com and the book, Running on Empty.
By Jonice Webb PhD 


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11 Little Tricks to Stop Being Socially Awkward

Even the most confident communicators can sometimes feel insecure at a party, meeting, or other friendly get-together. Use these pro tips to summon your swagger, or at least feel more self-assured.

Play host

Put yourself more at ease by taking the lead socially. “Introduce people to each other,” suggests Dianna Booher, author of Communicate With Confidence: How to Say It Right the First Time and Every Time. “Take hats and coats and invite other guests to help themselves to the food.” People will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and you’ll always find yourself in the center of things because people will be “coming and going” all around you. Check out the habits that can help nix social anxiety.

Bring a buddy

By attending events with a friend, you get the opportunity to introduce your pal to small groups as you join them, offering an intriguing “tag line” about them. “Your buddy can return the favor in your introduction,” Booher says. “These ‘partner’ introductions seem much less intrusive and self-serving and give you an interesting way to connect with others.” Don’t miss these tips for sharpening your small talk skills.

Embrace an opportunity

Stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone often has a real payoff. The fact is that trying new experiences, even if you have to endure a bit of discomfort, can lead to personal growth and inner strength, according to recent Psychology Today article. If you’re feeling lonely, try some of these strategies for making a human connection.
Make a fashion statement

A standout piece of jewelry, wild shoes or a unique jacket can serve as an immediate conversation starter, because most people will comment on it. “And when others ask, ‘What’s this?’ or ‘What’s the story behind this piece?’ be ready with an intriguing line that makes them say, ‘Tell me more,'” Booher says. Check out these secrets to accessorizing, according to fashion stylists.

Learn to listen intently

If it’s not already obvious, people love to talk about themselves. Use that your advantage to keep a conversation flowing. “Just keep asking follow-up questions and show genuine interest,” she says. Check out the things all good listeners do daily.

 

Remember names

To earn respect from a new acquaintance, remember and then use that person’s name. “There are many techniques to help you remember,” says Daniel L. Kopp, MD, a family physician in New Hartford, New York. “Try associating the name or the person’s appearance with something that you can easily connect it to.” The most important thing you can do in remembering names, however, is to listen very carefully as you’re hearing it the first time, perhaps even repeating it to confirm that you heard it correctly. You can say, “Amanda, nice to meet you.” “Often, social nervousness has us so focused on what we’re going to say next that we’re not tuning in to the name given at all,” Dr. Kopp says.

Be humble

Resist the urge to initiate conversations by bragging or just generally talking too much about yourself. “Think to yourself: ‘I’m a very interesting person and have done many interesting things, but I don’t need to tell others about my experiences unless they’re truly interested,'” Dr. Kopp says. “Quiet confidence is almost always valued more than aggressive domination or monopolization of a conversation,” he adds. Check these signs you could be a bad listener.
Take stock of your best traits

Before entering a social situation—whether it’s in person or online—take a moment to reflect on your best qualities and characteristics and remind yourself that you’re a good and decent person, deserving of another’s friendship, Dr. Kopp says. This strategy will be confidence builder. If you’re meeting in person, don’t forget that your body language is another way to project confidence.
Have one great fact ready

Kimberly Friedmutter, a clinical hypnotherapist with a practice in Malibu, California, says offering up a tidbit about yourself opens the doors to a flowing conversation. “Keep an interesting go-to fact about yourself at the ready,” Freidmutter says. “People love to engage with a quip, a story, something interesting for an icebreaker.” It could be something as random as, “I’m parked at a one-hour meter, so if you see me dash out suddenly, that would be why!”
Create some imagery

Take the edge off a social situation by using your imagination. “When feeling awkwardly intimidated, simply look at those around you and imagine how they looked as children,” says Friedmutter. “The image you conjure in your mind will automatically relax you into approaching others without worry.”
Consider texting more

Studies have found that friends and partners who send affectionate messages are closer than their non-texting equivalents, according to an article in the Washington Post. Get familiar with the situations in which texting has the advantage over calling.

BY ERICA LAMBERG
source: www.rd.com