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Revealed: Body Language That Makes You Attractive at Work and in Dating

Revealed: Body Language That Makes You Attractive at Work and in Dating

As human beings, the way we move and use our bodies can be one of the most effective ways of communication. In fact, it can play a much more important role than even the words we speak.

Dr Albert Mehrabian[1] is a psychologist that created a breakdown of effective human communication: 7 percent spoken words, 38 percent tone of voice, and 55 percent body language. Whether or not experts agree on the numbers, what is agreed on is that body language is an essential key component in our communication.

Learning more about body language can not only help us with improving communication ourselves, but to better understand others’ needs, wants and feelings.

With this in mind, I will go through essential body language tips within the common daily settings of work, dating and making friends.

What Are The Key Components Of Body Language?

Body language comes in many forms and often time it can be involuntary. Understanding the different components of our day-to-day body language can help us to be more aware and conscious of how we come across to others.

Facial expressions, eye contact, body movements and gestures, together with speech and tone of voice, can all give off signals both consciously and unconsciously to other people. Therefore, understanding how we use these to our advantage can help with more effective communication overall.

Body Language In The Work Place

The workplace is where we want to show competency, confidence and trustworthiness which can be shown in the body language we use.

Face: Smiling is important when making connections with others and more so with bosses and colleagues. A fake smile can be detected extremely easily so practicing a genuine smile (or Duchenne smile) will make you seem more approachable and trustworthy.

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    ▲ When you smile genuinely, you don’t only raise the muscles at the corner of your mouth, but also the muscles of your cheeks and your eyebrows.

    Eyes: Use frequent but direct eye contact – enough that you can notice the colour of their irises . Try the inverted triangle technique by looking from each eye down to the mouth.

      ▲ Looking into people’s eyes can be embarrassing (I know that feeling!) You can rotate your gaze to make eye contact more natural.

      Gestures: The power pose (hands on hips) not only tricks your mind into feeling more confident but conveys confidence to others. Think about how you use your hands – create a firm handshake and when talking, animate your hands to convey passion and enthusiasm.

        ▲ By putting your hands on your hips, you can make others instantly think you’re more confident and powerful. (via James Clear)

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        When sitting, crossing your legs in a figure-4 portrays a more confident stance but usually only in men. It subconsciously exposes the genital region and causes the upper body to lean back showing relaxed confidence.

          ▲ It’s different from the conventional ‘both knees’ leg cross!

          Voice: Having a higher pitch in your voice can be perceived by others as you being nervous and less powerful. Try to lower the pitch and speak slowly and clearly to convey control and confidence.

          Body Language In Dating

          Body language is crucial in how you are perceived by your date. Use these tricks to show you’re interested, relaxed and have a desire to get closer.

          Face: Natural laughter lights up the face and is a genuine sign of relaxation and lets the other person see you’re at ease in their company. Not only does it help you as endorphins are released and stress reduced, it can also allow your vulnerabilities to show because your guard is dropped and this can make you more appealing.

            ▲ Laughter rather than restricted smile enables your date to feel closer to you.

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            Eyes: Widening the eyes can convey interest and invites a positive response in the other person. Women who widen their eyes become particularly attractive as it’s believed to be associated with the eye/face proportion of babies and elicits an urge to protect and offer love.

            Gestures: When chatting with your date, lean forward slightly as this shows genuine interest. When they’re talking make sure you nod and smile to let them know you’re interested in what they’re saying. Slight touching on their upper arm can create feelings of intimacy without inappropriateness, making your date warm to you more.

              ▲ When your date speaks, don’t forget to lean forward a bit to show how eager to listen what they say.

              Voice: Both men and women actually like a deeper tone of voice in the opposite sex. That’s not to say you should have a deep, husky voice but deepening it and speaking slowly and confidently can come across as sexy and alluring.

              Body Language When Meeting New People

              If you want to become more successful in connecting and making new friends, then it’s important to come across in a friendly, easy-going way as well as showing you have commonalities with each other.

              Face: Smiling is obviously key to coming across as friendly and approachable. Make sure you use a natural laugh that will make your smile more genuine.

              Eyes: Other than good eye contact, you may consider throwing in a wink as a way of making friends. Yes, it’s more associated with flirting but don’t be afraid to use it in the context of a signal or a shared joke. Winking can elicit a feeling of connection in the other person and you can come off as more fun and confident.

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                ▲ Winking is a signal telling your new friend that you share some hidden knowledge with him/her.

                Gestures: We subconsciously mirror the body language of people we are fond of so subtly copy hand gestures, other movements or the way they stand. This will convey a sense that you are mindful of them and genuinely interested. Also make sure you have an open posture so you come across as welcoming and approachable.

                  ▲ Mirroring the body language of your new friend can make you two share more commonalities and feel more connected.

                  Voice: Showing friendliness with your voice can be achieved with intonation. Having a variety of tone conveys genuine interest, while monotone speech can give the impression of boredom even if you don’t intend it to.

                  Body language is important in our day-to-day interactions and there are many instances where we have subconscious tendencies that can lead to giving off wrong signals. Being more aware of how you come across using your gestures, voice, facial expressions and eyes can get you ahead in your social interactions and create a positive impression in your life overall.

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                  Jenny Marchal

                  A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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                  Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                  7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                  7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                  The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                  Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                  Posture

                  First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                  All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                  Facial Expressions

                  Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                  If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                  1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                  A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                  The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                  This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                  2. Relax Your Face

                  New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                  The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                  To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                  3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                  Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                  The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                  To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                  3. Smile More

                  There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                  Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                  4. Hand Gestures

                  Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                  It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                  5. Enhance Your Handshake

                  In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                  “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                  It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                  6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                  As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                  Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                  Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                  Final Takeaways

                  Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                  If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                  More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                  Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

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