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14 Body Language Skills that make the Popular Popular

14 Body Language Skills that make the Popular Popular

We’ve all heard the statistic that up to 90% of communication is non-verbal in nature. Body language is important. But what actually is “good” body language? How do we learn to “speak” body language? How do we understand and use this powerful method of communication for mutual benefit?
We all know popular people for whom this good body language seem to be effortless. Let’s discover more by taking a look at the secrets of body language masters.

1. They understand the importance of intention

Actions are generated by beliefs, thoughts, and feelings.

What are you doing and thinking before presentations or meeting new people? Worrying? Stressing? Replaying past failures? Imagining worst case scenarios? If so, you may need to do some inner work. Popular people often take the time to prepare for meetings and new engagements by visualising a happy, upbeat outcome. This sets their energy level and the tone for their body language.

2. They stand up straight, but not too straight

Do you enter meetings ramrod straight? Or hunched up and small in the hope no one pays you any attention? Popular people stand up straight, projecting confidence and competence. But they don’t overdo it; this would come across as stiff and unnatural.

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3. They relax their shoulders

Our shoulders can display the level of tension we are feeling. Have you noticed how relaxed the popular and socially confident look? If you want to appear more relaxed and confident to others, take the time to relax your shoulders and move them gently back and down. This will aid your whole body in achieving a relaxed and natural upright position.

4. They make eye contact, but not too much eye contact

Looking at the ground? Looking at the ceiling? Looking anywhere but into peoples’ eyes? Popular people make good steady eye contact, and in doing so connect with their audience and build trust. Good eye contact is foundational to good communication. But don’t lock on to conversation partners with a permanent stare; this goes beyond ‘building trust’ into ‘building fear’! When making eye contact, also be careful of the protocols of the culture of the person you are interacting with, as different cultures have different rules for how much eye contact is appropriate and non-threatening.

5. They are not afraid to take up space

Stood with legs pressed tightly together? Or sat with legs tightly crossed? Popular people tend to stand and sit with their legs gently apart; this makes them look open, relaxed, and interested in those around them.

6. They don’t turn away from those they are speaking to

Talking to the blackboard or powerpoint slides? Conversing with the wall rather than wannabe friends? You won’t see the charismatic making these mistakes. Facing your audience when speaking is very important in engaging them. Turning away not only muffles your speech but communicates a lack of interest in audience and confidence in self.

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7. They nod when listening

Staring? Frowning? Impassive? Silent? The popular instead communicate positive interest in those that are speaking by nodding and smiling, and occasionally feeding back by affirmative noises and supportive statements. An attentive listener is a good listener.

8. They smile and laugh, but not at their own jokes

Having a stone-like face communicates seriousness. The audience takes their cues from you. So the popular smile to communicate openness and friendliness, and laugh to relax and bond with their audience. Like the other skills in this list, this is a matter of degree; rictus-like grins are not in order, and being quick to laugh at your own jokes in the beginning can make you seem needy.

 
9. They scan the horizon, not the floor

Looking at the ground makes you seem lost or unconfident. Instead, notice how popular people keep their heads upright, even when not talking. Their attention is mostly either on the conversation, or on the horizon.

 
10. They take their time

Speeding up delivery to get through a public speaking engagement as quickly as possible doesn’t impress the audience. Rather, the socially skilled pace themselves and slow down both their movements and their rate of speech. Remember, when the attention is on you; relax, breathe deeply, and slow down.

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11. They gesture with their arms, but not like a duck!

Fidgeting with your hands makes you look distracted and unfocused. Moving just your lower arms from the elbow can make you seem uptight.

Popular people know how to use their whole arms to illustrate their points through gesture. They also know not to go overboard on the gesturing; this would distract from their speech and the impression they are making.

12. They focus their body on who they are talking to

Ever try to talk to someone who turned their head around to acknowledge you while their body continued to be focused on something else? It’s an off-putting barrier. Popular socializers understand the importance of turning not just their head but their whole body to engage the person they are speaking with. They also know to subtly point their arms and legs towards their conversation partner. Think of this as like engaging with a small child; when that small child runs towards you, you naturally want to turn your whole body, plus limbs, towards them (…to scoop them up for a hug)!

 
13. They mirror the language of their group, without mimicking like a parrot

Sitting cross-legged, cross-armed, and leaning back in a corner whilst the dinner party goes on round about? These are unlikely to be the actions of the most popular member of the group. Good conversations involve people mirroring and responding to one another’s body language in a subtle dance that develops mutual rapport. Remember, though, that mirroring isn’t about obsessive copying of every little thing, which comes across as insincere (and possibly creepy!).

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14. They have a firm handshake; not a vice, and not a noodle!

Don’t crush the hands of old ladies. No one wants to be hurt when making acquaintance, so regulate your handshake to the person you are meeting. Going too soft and limp associates one with a cold fish. Popular people know that “Just right” is a warm, steady and firm handshake that takes into the account the other person. When beginning and ending meetings, a good handshake along with a smile and eye contact is important in leaving a lasting impression.                                

Featured photo credit: www.flickr.com via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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