Making a good impression is easy, right? Well, maybe. People will make a snap decision about you within the fist ½ second of seeing you. You don’t even need to be in a conversation…it can happen from across the room based solely on your body language before you’ve even met! Here are a few guidelines to make sure you are sending a positive, confident message about you.
DO keep your body in a neutral position. Assume a nice, relaxed posture with nice fluid movements and relaxed shoulders.
DON’T cross your arms or legs. While this may seem comfortable, you’re sending the message that you’re closed or negatively evaluating the situation. And remember where the body goes, the mind will follow. When you cross your arms and/or legs for long enough, eventually you will be closed to what’s going on!
DO nod your head ‘yes’ every so often while you’re listening. This gesture signals that you’re in agreement and want to engage in the conversation.
DON’T overdo it on the nodding. They’ll think you’re nuts if you consistently bob your head!
DO keep your hands pretty still
DON’T fidget and scratch your neck and face. You’ll send the message that you’re nervous or even lying!
DO match a few of the other person’s body language a bit. For example, if they pick up a drink, you pick up a drink. If they lean on their right leg, you lean on your right leg. Make it casual. This sends a deep, unconscious message that you’re just alike. Don’t worry you won’t get caught. This one can be hard to master but just ask a body language expert, it’s worth the time!
DON’T be jerky with your movements when matching. They’ll think you’re strange..
DO move closer or lean closer to whoever you’re speaking with.
DON’T lean away or angle yourself away from the other person.
DO use a 45 degree angle of address
DON’T face people straight on. They’ll unconsciously thing you’re aggressive
DO hold their gaze a little longer if you’re interested.
DON’T look at your feet and expect that they’ll know you’re interested.
DO smile genuinely. When people truly smile, they do with their eyes and appear to be more enthusiastic and positive.
DON’T give a fake smile-closed mouth and no smiling eyes.
DO keep your hands gently in your lap or assume a neutral position.
DON’T put your hands behind your head or on your hips. It’s usually seen as a sign of aggression or overconfident and negative.
It is always more useful to focus on positive signals to achieve success, but I also encourage you to read another article I wrote that includes more examples of negative body language to be avoided.