Body language is defined as “the conscious and unconscious movements and postures by which attitudes and feelings are communicated.” Body language accounts for 80% of our communication and refers to how you present yourself from facial expressions and eye contact to how we stand.
We send signals all day using body language without necessarily paying attention to them. It plays an important part when it comes to communicating, especially in situations where you want to make a good first impression or feel more confident. We’ve put together our top body language techniques that you can easily incorporate into your day and use to your advantage.
- Eye contact
Our eyes speak volumes and are one of the most important elements we use to communicate with others. Holding a strong gaze can increase the length of time a conversation is remembered for. Research shows that 30% of time spent making eye contact results in a significant increase in what participants remembered.
Not maintaining eye contact can signal that you are anxious, distracted or perhaps shy. Improve your face-to-face communications by holding strong eye contact to indicate that you’re engaged and focused on the conversation. It also helps to build trust as it shows a sense of openness in communication.
People that experience the same emotions are likely to experience a mutual trust according to research. Mirroring another persons’ body language is a non-verbal way of signalling understanding. We often do this subconsciously without being aware of it and it’s a great technique to employ if you’re wanting to make a good impression.
Part of your brain is responsible for the recognition of faces and expressions. According to some scientists there is a neuron that affects this part of your brain and so when you see someone smiling or frowning this neuron causes the mirroring reaction, instinctively causing you to copy facial expressions and thus emitting a message of assembly.
Holding yourself up tall when standing instantly emits a sense of confidence. Imagine that you’re being pulled up from the top of your head by a piece of string to uphold good posture. Holding your head up high, resting back your shoulders and taking a deep breath into your abdomen will also help you to maintain great posture.
Posture is just as imperative when sitting. Sitting in a scrunched-over posture suggests you’re closed off and folding your arms is a defensive position. To overcome this, try sitting with an open stance and take up a lot of space to obtain the “power position.” Sitting and standing tall are not only a sign of confidence but also indicate intelligence and creditability according to Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert so make sure you nail this to emit the right image.
- Body movement
It’s natural to move your body in subtle and relaxed ways when talking but finding the right balance is key to elevating yourself in a situation.
Fidgeting is a no-go if you want to seem engaged and self-assured. It’s distracting and also a sign that you’re uncomfortable or nervous in a situation. Some people are the opposite however, and sit too stiffly which may be a sign that your body is readying itself for possible confrontation according to behavioural analyst, Lillian Glass.
Striking a balance between the two will lead to making the best impression.
Smiling is a simply way of reaching out to others and signalling joy and trust. It not only shows you’re engagement in a conversation but it’s also proven to deem yourself more likeable by others according to one study.
Laughter stimulates endorphins which are the hormones that reduce our perception of pain and make us feel good. Practise smiling at colleagues as you walk past for a quick mood-lift or engage in a conversation that makes you laugh to alleviate stress and feel more relaxed.
- Hand shake
A handshake initiates a conversation in most social or professional gatherings and is one of the first unspoken impressions we give off to others. We make snap judgements about people based on their handshake and instantly assess whether they emit importance, weakness or perhaps warmth. Handshakes also said to indicate your level of intelligence, with stronger handshakes demonstrating a higher level of education than those with a weaker handgrip according to research.
No one likes a handshake that’s too firm or limp, it needs to be just right so practice really does make perfect when it comes to refining your handshake. To achieve the best handshake you need to be aware of the other elements involved; good posture, strong eye contact and smile. When perfected, it’ll help you to achieve a positive first impression and indicate that you are confident, prepared and driven.