A huge amount of our communication is nonverbal, which means that the body language that we use is very important. Body language also plays a large part in making a good first impression. Within the first few minutes of meeting someone, we start making decisions about their intentions, whether they’re credible, or someone we want to spend time with.
The way you communicate with your body language when you meet someone new can make or break your relationship. Nonverbal cues can also be useful for communicating with the hearing impaired, and for young people who might otherwise struggle to express themselves.
Here’s how you can use your body language to make a great first impression and positively build your relationships.
- Start with your posture. Keep your back straight, but not rigid, and keep your shoulders relaxed. This makes you appear confident, but not too uptight.
- Align your body with the person that you are talking to. This shows you are engaged with what they’re saying.
- Keep your legs slightly apart instead of crossed. This shows that you are relaxed. You also retain more information when you sit this way than you do when you sit with your legs crossed.
- Lean in slightly. This shows you are really listening and are focusing on the person you’re talking to.
- Mirror the body language of the person you are talking to. Doing this can show that you agree with them, and like them.
Positive Arms and Hands
- Keep your hands relaxed at your sides. This shows you are open to what someone else is saying. Like your legs, keeping your arms uncrossed can help you to absorb more of the conversation.
- Use your hands to gesture as you talk. Using your hands can improve your credibility with the person listening to you. Gesturing with your hands as you speak can also help to improve your thinking process.
- Always greet other people with a firm, but not too firm, handshake. A firm handshake is known to be one of the most important body language moves because it can set the tone for your whole interaction. Nobody wants a limp handshake and then to keep talking.
- Make sure you are aware of different cultural greetings if you have a meeting with someone from another culture.
- Show that you understand, agree, and are listening with genuine smiles and appropriate nodding.
- Lighten the mood with laughter, if you can do some appropriately. Laughing in the right places also shows that you’re listening.
- Keep good eye contact with the person you’re speaking to, by looking them in eye when they are speaking. Keep eye contact going when you start to speak, as this shows that you invested in the conversation that you are having. Be careful with your eye contact though, as too much can seem aggressive or strange. Take breaks from eye contact to think about your next answer to keep it positive rather than off-putting.
- Try not to blink too much. Rapid blinking can show that you feel uncomfortable and lack confidence.