Verbal cues aren’t the only way that humans express what they’re thinking or feeling. In fact, we express a lot through visual cues given off by our body language. It also plays a large factor in the type of impression we make on others.
Never underestimate a good first impression. According to 2011 research by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, people will assess your competence and trustworthiness in a quarter of a second—all based on your body language. And throughout the day you’re sending people subtle signals without even knowing; the way you move your eyes, the way you shake a hand and so on.
The good new is that Lifehack.org has shared a list of subtle body language tricks that you can practice to make yourself instantly likeable.
Adjusting your posture
Since your body is constantly signalling the people you meet, it’s important to have a good posture. Sitting and standing tall is considered the second most important leadership signifier, no matter what type of work environment you’re in. The body language in your posture not only influences how people judge you, but also what you think about yourself.
Sit up straight
You’ve probably heard this all of your life, but when you start sitting up straight, you’ll notice how small most people make themselves. You’ll instantly feel quite tall when sitting at a table.
Keep your back straight, but relax as much as possible – your abs, back and general core should never be floppy when you stand or sit. Keeping your core under a little tension not only reflects well upon your posture, but it also makes it easier to move with grace.
The stance of your feet says a lot about you. It’s not an exact science, but putting your feet closer together generally signifies insecurity, whereas a wider stance indicates confidence. Both holding your feet too close together and too far apart can reflect badly upon you. Try to aim for a position where your feet are at hip width or slightly wider apart, but not much.
Body language when entering a room
The moment you enter a room is the moment your body language expose you to the judgement of the people there. To make the most of that:
Smile like you’re happy to be there
Regardless of whether you’re happy to be there or not, smile when you enter a room. Just pretend that you really like what you’re seeing or like you stepped outside and noticed the sun was shining. Be careful not to overdo it – don’t laugh out loud.
Greet the crowd
You don’t need to shout “HEY!” or draw explicit attention unless these people appreciate that type of behavior. Otherwise take a moment to stand still or walk slowly while looking at the people in the room.
Don’t glance over the crowd like it’s an object. Look people in the eye and if anyone holds your gaze, smile at them. Make people feel like a positive influence just entered this room.
Take your time
People are hard-wired to like and/or respect people with friends. When you walk into a room and do your usual greet the crowd routine, follow it up by waving to your friends and mouthing something along the lines of “I’ll be right there”.
Keep in mind that people can’t see 360 degrees, so feel free to do this to imaginary friends. If you wave to a non-existent person behind someone, they don’t necessarily know you’re just waving to empty air or someone whose not paying attention.
This has a number of effects:
- People assume you know people
- You have more time to calmly look around
- You’ll feel more confident
The trick is to do this in full confidence, don’t timidly wave. Wave like your best friend is across the room and you are trying to communicate to them that you’ll be there soon.
Facial expressions and cues
The human face is an area that sends out a lot of signals. People project a lot of information through this type of body language without knowing it, and you can use your face to signal information about yourself to others.
Turn that frown upside down
Have you ever heard of ‘resting bitch face syndrome’? Some people claim their face looks annoyed or angry when resting (working on their computer, etc.). This look makes others perceive them as someone to avoid, but it says nothing about the actual person – though it does disadvantage them.
Make sure that your face at rest looks relaxed, if not happy. An easy trick is to have a look on your face like something is mildly amusing.
Don’t break eye contact
People have a habit of looking away if they meet a person’s eyes. Try not doing this; instead keep eye contact and smile. Often people will look away, but some will hold your gaze.
People will perceive you as more open, however if you hold someone’s gaze, be sure to smile. Looking impassively can be very creepy.
How to smile
You may think that this is a no-brainer, since you’ve been doing it since birth, but smiling isn’t about moving your face in a certain way—it’s about feeling happy and letting your face express it.
There is a very simple trick to smiling to people that you’re more awkward around, and that’s to imagine you’re seeing something you really like. Find out how this can help you flirt better.
The subtle act of mirroring
The last thing about body language to help you appear more likeable is a powerful technique that has been researched a lot called mirroring. This means people feel more comfortable around you and like you better if you stand the way they do. For example:
- If they cross their arms, cross your arms
- Are they are leaning on their right leg? Then lean on your right leg
- If you both have drinks and they take a sip of theirs, take a sip of yours
The key here is not to be obvious. The moment they notice consciously what you’re doing, this body language technique loses power.
If you want to put these body language tricks to use and get a few more tips, check out this infographic on bossing your next interview.