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23 Body Language Tricks That Make You Instantly Likeable

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23 Body Language Tricks That Make You Instantly Likeable

You send people signals all day, without paying attention to them. The way you move your eyes, the way you shake a hand and so on. There are things you can do to send subconscious signals using body language that make people like you better, or at least give you the benefit of the doubt. Whenever I discuss techniques like these there are always one or two people who feel uncomfortable with ‘influencing’ someone with psychological tricks.

Manipulation is not negative

  • Influencing is changing someone’s behavior or mind
  • Manipulation is intentionally influencing

When you hear the word manipulation, you may immediately think of negative things. Please don’t.

Manipulation is not bad. People with bad intentions are bad.

 
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    Example 1: Manipulative sneaky person

    Bad people are bad. Bad people who manipulate are problematic. An example of this:

    • Mean Girl wants to reduce the social standing of Sweet Classmate
    • She tells the other classmate this person did something horrible
    • The class likes Sweet Classmate less
    • Sweet Classmate feels sad now

    Example 2: Friendly manipulation

    Manipulation can make everyone in a situation better off.

    • Party Person is an experienced manipulator
    • Party Person bumps into another person
    • Party Person smiles disarmingly and apologizes, even though the other person was wrong
    • Party Person doesn’t get into a fight and has a great night

    The problem with the Mean Girl example is not the manipulation, the problem is bad intentions and lying.

    My request: Have good intentions

    I’m assuming you will use these tricks with good intentions. Please do so.

    Section 1: Attitude & body language

    Positive attitude

      The human mind is judgmental, it’s what it does. It is what kept us alive during evolution.We make judgments in split seconds:

      • Is this person a threat?
      • Is this person attractive?
      • Is this person useful to my (social) survival?

      Pay attention to this instinct, but never act on it without knowing the person better. The tricks below will trigger you to behave in ways that are perceived well.

      This section is not strictly about body language, but these attitudes will subconsciously influence your body language.

      Feel secure and project confidence

      This one is so important it requires its own article, and you can never do this 100% of the time. Plus, there are certainly cases where not seeming confident can gain you likability points, but on average, the above holds true.

      There are two things to consider with this point:

      • Try to remove things that make you uncomfortable
        • For me bad skin was an issue, which I solved like this
        • Another was clothing choice, which I solved by bringing along a girl when shopping
      • Train yourself to help you feel secure
        • I learned a lot from self-help audiobooks I downloaded
        • For me staying in shape helped a lot. Read the 4 Hour Body or its summary

      Everyone is a friend, unless proven otherwise

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        Why burn bridges before you’ve made them in the first place? It makes no sense:

        • You have everything to gain
        • You have nothing to lose

        You will notice soon enough if this person would/wants to be a good friend.

        Everyone deserves respect, unless proven otherwise

        Again, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by treating people with respect. That doesn’t mean you should kiss boots all day; it means you shouldn’t dismiss anyone or make them feel unimportant.

        Like everybody, until they don’t deserve it

        Strangers deserve to have the benefit of the doubt. In our world anyone can be anything, without looking like it. I’ve met douchebags who looked kind and billionaires that behaved like excited children. Look at the cover of the book, but read a few pages before judging.

        Neither the douchebag or billionaire are ‘better’ than each other. But being around one made me feel unhappy, and the other made me feel gusto and enthusiasm.

        Always think about what you can do for others

        When you meet someone, don’t think ‘what can they do for me?’ but rather ‘what can I do for them?’ Helping people is the best way to make them want to help you, and everybody wins.

        Note that I’m not saying you should give unsolicited advice to make yourself seem smart. Help people if you genuinely and truly believe this person’s life would be better with the knowledge/help/contact that you can offer.

        Offer help, but don’t insist. Keep it short and let them decide.

        Section 2: Posture

        Posture example

          Your body is constantly signalling the people you meet. Posture influences the snap second judgement people make about you, but also what you think about yourself. In addition, proper posture is good for your back, what’s not to like?

          Stand up straight, but relaxed

          To find positive posture, try the following:

          1. Stand with your feet as wide as your hips
          2. Make yourself as tall as possible, imagine being pulled up by the top of your head
          3. Now keep that feeling of being tall but relax your shoulders
          4. Relax your neck and angle your head so you don’t have to look up or down to look an average person in the eyes

          Some tips:

          • Relax as much as possible while maintaining your posture
          • Don’t puff your chest, it should be flat as if you are lying on a floor
          • Pull your shoulders back very slightly

          Sit up straight, but not rigid

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            When you start sitting up straight, you will notice how small most people make themselves. You will instantly feel quite tall when sitting at a table. Keep your back straight, but relax as much as possible.

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            Always have some tension in your core

            Your abs, back and general core should never be flaccid/floppy when you stand or sit. Keep your abs and core in general under some tension. Not only does it reflect well upon your posture, but it also makes it easier to move with grace.

            Position your feet at about hip width apart

            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.

            Section 3: Entering a Room

            Walking into a room

              The moment you enter a room is the moment you expose yourself to the judgement of the people in that room. Make sure to make use of that.

              Some would recommend more extreme techniques like peacocking, but that doesn’t apply to all situations.

              Smile like you are happy to be there

              Regardless of whether you are, smile when you enter a  room. Smile like you really like what you are seeing. Don’t overdo it, don’t laugh out loud. Smile like you stepped outside and noticed the sun was shining.

              Greet the crowd

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                Not explicitly. Don’t shout “HEY!” or draw explicit attention unless these are people who appreciate such behavior. Otherwise take a  moment to stand still or walk slowly while looking at the people in the room.

                • Make eye contact

                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

                This shows confidence, but also signifies an open attitude.

                Wave to (imaginary) friends

                Humans 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”.

                Here’s the thing, feel free to do this to imaginary friends. I do this all the time at bigger events. Keep in mind that people don’t see 360 degrees. If you wave to an non-existent person behind them they don’t know you are just waving to empty air.

                This has a number of effects:

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                • People assume you know people
                • You have more time to calmly look around
                • You will feel more confident

                The trick here 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.

                Section 4: the Handshake

                Handshake

                  Use a firm but gentle handshake

                  Men, especially, are sensitive to the way you shake a hand. A weak or ‘dead fish’ handshake will instantly lose you likability points.

                  • Don’t just ‘offer’ your hand, a handshake is teamwork
                  • Use the pressure you would use to grab the stick of a heavy pan
                  • If a  person is offering you a ‘dead fish’ handshake, don’t squeeze too hard

                  Make eye contact as you shake hands

                  Looking away automatically signifies negative things:

                  • You don’t have attention/respect for the other person
                  • You have something to hide

                  Look into someone’s eyes long enough to memorize their eye color. Don’t stare, just observe for a moment.

                  Smile like they made your day

                  When looking into someone’s eyes during the shake, smile as if you saw something in their eyes that makes you happy.

                  Don’t laugh out loud, just smile.

                  Section 5: Positioning

                  Feet positioning

                    How and where you position yourself makes a difference in how you are perceived. Positioning combined with posture is very powerful.

                    Open your stance

                    When you are talking to someone, position your body in such a way that you are open to them. Preferably position yourself in a ‘vulnerable’ way. Don’t cover your chest with your arms, don’t slouch etc. This signifies trust and comfort.

                    Angle yourself towards the person you are speaking to

                    It is a subtle change, but making sure that your body is ‘pointing’ to your conversational partner makes a difference. Angling away can signify fearfulness, insecurity and mistrust.

                    Don’t lean on or against objects

                    Leaning on/against an object (e.g. a wall) signifies passivity and possibly insecurity. Whenever you can stand up with good posture. Using the tips from the posture section, try to develop a comfortable ‘neutral stance’.

                    When you do lean, use posture

                    If you do have to lean against something for whatever reason, keep good posture. Don’t slouch.

                    Section 6: Your Face

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                    Facial expression

                      Your face is an area with a lot of signalling. In fact there is a lot of research into micro expressions people make subconsciously. People project a lot of information without knowing it. You can use your face to signal information about yourself to people.

                      Make your neutral face a happy face

                      Ever heard of ‘resting bitch face syndrome’? Some people claim their face at rest looks annoyed/angry, which makes people perceive them as a social danger. You preferably wouldn’t talk to a person with that kind of an expression on their face.

                      It says nothing about the actual person though. But it does disadvantage them.

                      Make sure that your face at rest (e.g. when you are working on a laptop) looks relaxed, if not happy. An easy trick is to have a look on your face like something is mildly amusing to you.

                      Don’t break eye contact instantly

                      People have a habit of looking away if they meet a person’s eyes. Try not do do this. Keep eye contact, and smile. Often people will look away, though some people will hold your gaze.

                      Doing this has multiple effects:

                      • People perceive you as more open
                      • You will feel more confident

                      Please note that when you hold someone’s gaze, be sure to smile. Looking impassively can be very creepy…

                      How to smile

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                        There is a very simple trick to smiling: imagine you are seeing something you really like.

                        Smiling is not about moving your face in a certain way, it is about feeling a happy feeling and letting your face express it.

                        Read more about how to smile in this Buffer article..

                        Section 7: Techniques and habits

                        Here I cover some things you can do that often involve some measure of interaction with your conversational/communication data.

                        Mirror your posture

                        A powerful technique that has been researched a lot is mirroring. This means people feel more comfortable around you and like you better if you stand the way they do. For example:

                        • They have their arms crossed? Cross your arms
                        • They are leaning on their right leg? Lean on your right leg
                        • Are they holding a drink? Hold a drink

                        The key here is not to be obvious. The moment they notice consciously what you are doing, the technique loses power.

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                        Mirror movements

                        As with the above point, you shouldn’t be obvious. But little things can go a long way:

                        • You are having a coffee, they pick up their cup to drink? Do the same
                        • If they smile, smile back (that’s an easy one)
                        • Are they stepping a bit closer to you? Do the same

                        Again, don’t be obvious and don’t be a creep. This technique should be used in an unobtrusive manner, but frequently.

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                        Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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                        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                        You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                        Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                        Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                        Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                        1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                        According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                        “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                        Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                        Warming up

                        If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                        If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                        Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                        1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                        2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                        3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                        Stay hydrated

                        Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                        To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                        Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                        Meditate

                        Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                        Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                        Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                        Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                        2. Focus on your goal

                        One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                        Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                        Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                        Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                        If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                        3. Convert negativity to positivity

                        There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                        ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                        It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                        Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                        Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                        Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                        4. Understand your content

                        Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                        However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                        “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                        Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                        Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                        One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                        5. Practice makes perfect

                        Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                        In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                        Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                        6. Be authentic

                        There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                        Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                        Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                        To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                        With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                        Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                        7. Post speech evaluation

                        Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                        Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                        We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                        You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                        Improve your next speech

                        As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                        Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                        • How did I do?
                        • Are there any areas for improvement?
                        • Did I sound or look stressed?
                        • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                        • Was I saying “um” too often?
                        • How was the flow of the speech?

                        Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                        If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                        Reference

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