Tinder has taught us to swipe right or left. Dating has become so technological and impersonal that actually communicating in-person is becoming a lost art form. Whether you’re meeting a friend for coffee, or attempting to seduce someone that you find irresistible, or going out on a date for the first time, body language is critical to communicating in an impactful way.
Let’s take a closer look at five time-tested power signals you can send using body language.
1. Animated People Score Better in Speed Dating Surveys
An article discussing the power of proper posture when dating, written by Erika Ettin, highlights the findings of a study centered around more than 144 hours of video-recorded speed dates involving couples interacting together for the first time. One of the key areas researchers studied was how hand and arm movements affected perception. Communicating in a physically active way significantly improved the odds that a man or woman would be asked out on a second date.
Should you try and impersonate one of those inflatable tube people outside of shops whenever they have a sale? No! But, simple gestures where hand and arm movement accompany verbal communication, shows engagement and energy.
2. Prepare for a Night on the Town with Open, Power Postures
In the privacy of your home, or even a bathroom stall, it’s entirely possible to boost your self-confidence with open, expansive physical posturing. Confidence is sexy, and anything you can do to project a sense of self-worth is worth trying.
Amy Cuddy, a Social Psychologist, recently presented a Ted Talk where she discussed her own challenges with self-confidence. And, more importantly, she had found ways to universally improve self-confidence through body-language. It turns out that the chicken or the egg debate isn’t the only place where actions and reactions are hard to define.
Opening your body up, stretching out your arms and expanding the space you occupy can measurably boost self-confidence. Confident people have body language that is open, expansive and unafraid. If you don’t feel confident, force your body language to become more open, imitating a confident person. Your brain will react and take the queue from your physical state.
If you’re nervous about trying to awkwardly open up your body language in public, practice in private. The sense of confidence will continue for some time after you try the power poses that Cuddy discusses in her Ted Talk.
3. Turn Towards the Person You’re Interested In
The heart wants what the heart wants, and subconsciously our heart points us in the direction of the things we’re interested in. If you’re genuinely interested in the person you’re meeting with, your body needs to be centered towards them. Turning away or at an angle while you talk is a sign that you’re losing interest. Engage and center around the other person, and they’ll be encouraged to do the same.
If the other person seems guarded or involuntarily turning away, it’s a sign that things aren’t going well. Don’t mistakenly send across that you’d rather be elsewhere.
4. Tilt Your Head
Ever so subtly tilting your head as you engage in conversation is an excellent strategy for signaling that you’re invested in the conversation. If the other person is sharing something with you that you find interesting, signal your heightened level of attention by casually leaning your head to the side. Then, as the conversation picks up tempo in another direction, slowly move back to a centered position.
Just like moving your arms, actively participating in the conversation with subtle body cues improves the sense of connection the other person feels with you. The way your body flows with the conversation is kind of like a dance that starts out with a handshake and helps propel the conversation forward with every twist and turn.
But, it’s important that body language is executed in moderation. You don’t was to appear fidgety, as that signals a lack of interest, or a potential psychological disorder.
5. Establish Eye-Contact and Casual Physical Contact
Okay, this one shouldn’t be too surprising. Looking someone in the eyes is both a sign of respect and confidence.
It was William Shakespeare who once wrote, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”
If you want to size someone up quickly, look at them in the eyes while speaking with them. The sub-conscious communication that’s made will tell you more than words will ever reveal.
Your goal should be to find a comfortable balance between staring and gazing away into the distance. Breaking eye contact for a moment here and there helps give you a sense of your surroundings and allows for a more relaxed feeling, while still showing that you’re paying full attention.
As the conversation progresses, finding an excuse to make physical contact is a great way to build a sense of trust and connection. Whether it’s a light hug after meeting for the first time, or placing a hand halfway across the table, inviting the other person to hold yours, physical contact symbolizes a breaking of barriers; allowing two individuals to share a more intimate, real moment.
It’s said that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Body language allows for our words to have greater context. Understanding how our body language is being perceived helps us to avoid miscommunication and improve the quality of conversation. It’s my hope that you’ll use the suggestions we’ve discussed to better enjoy your meetings with the people you care about.
Featured photo credit: Josh.greentree/Flickr via flickr.com