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The 17 Secrets to Improve Body Language

The 17 Secrets to Improve Body Language

Some of us do not naturally possess the personality or body language that is required for making a good impression on others. Body language is the first thing that people notice about you, so do yourself (and those around you) a favor and learn what your body says about you. This can help you in every aspect of your life—from friendships to important job interviews—so check out these tips.

1. Smile.

Most people do not realize that their “neutral” face is more of a scowl, which is an obvious turn-off. You do not need to be beaming from ear to ear 24/7; however, it is a good idea to remind yourself to turn up the corners of your mouth a bit.

You may also be interested in 11 Facts About Smiling.

2. Uncross your arms.

Having your arms crossed signals that you want to be left alone or that you are upset. Uncrossing your arms will signal to others (and yourself) that you are at ease in the situation. Even though I have known this trick for years, I still catch myself crossing my arms. It is natural habit, but necessary to break if you are trying to make a positive impression on those around you.

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3. Use proper eye contact.

Try to maintain a balance between staring into a person’s soul and appearing to not pay attention.

4. Sit or stand up straight.

Hunching over is another signal to others that you are protecting yourself. You may feel uncomfortable in the situation, but by using proper posture you will appear (and feel) more confident.

5. Relax your shoulders.

There is a balance with the shoulders: shoulders too high will make you appear nervous, but slumped shoulders give off a sad or self-conscious vibe. Try to work somewhere in the middle, your shoulders falling to a natural and comfortable height.

6. Straighten your entire spine—including your neck.

Even if your back is straight, you can blow others’ perception by craning your neck forward. Unless you are looking at someone who is shorter than you, your entire spine should be straight. Try to remind yourself to keep your “chin up” and your neck will straighten out in a positively confident manner.

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7. Claim your space.

Those with a small frame naturally take up less space and appear timid. A way to counter this is to imagine that you are claiming your space on the floor. Stand with feet apart; not together. Place one hand (or both) on the hip for visual trickery, making you appear to take up more space than you actually do. This will show others that although you are small, you are self-assured.

8. Mirror the person with whom you are speaking.

People like to see their body language mirrored since it makes them feel as though the other person can empathize or has similar ideas.

9. Do not stare at the floor.

Unless you are checking out the new carpeting or someone’s sparkly shoes, your eyes should be close to others’ eye level.

10. Slow down your speech.

I can attest to the fact that when I am nervous, I start talking like someone hit the fast forward button on my mouth. This is one way people can see right through to how nervous you really are.

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11. Take a deep breath.

This is one surefire way to calm your nerves and make your whole person more relaxed.

12. Do not touch your neck or face.

This is a signal to others that you are protecting yourself or are nervous.

13. Nod when someone is talking to you.

This is a positive form of body language that will let others know you are listening and engaged in the conversation. It can also give them a boost of confidence, and who doesn’t like to be around someone who makes us feel good?

14. Point your feet.

No, not like a ballerina. Point your feet in the direction of the person with whom you are speaking.

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15. Lower your voice.

Studies show that those with deeper voices are taken more seriously.

16. Steeple your hands. Or don’t.

This is something that I found to be somewhat controversial. The hand steeple is where you touch all of your fingers together to form a sort of “steeple.” This action is taught by some body language coaches in order to appear more confident or commanding, but others find this to be unnatural. What do you think? It should also be noted that you need to have proper posture when “steepling” so you do not look like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

17. Maintain proper distance.

This one is in the gray area as well, since some are more comfortable with close talkers, but the main point is to pay attention to those around you. Do they have to lean in to hear you? Move closer. Are people backing away from you? For heaven’s sake, do not keep moving closer as they inch away!

Body language is the biggest way that others perceive you. Overall, you should appear relaxed, confident and engaging in order to attract the positive attention you want. Try some of these out today!

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Amanda DeWitt

Writer. Photographer. Instagrammer. Future Educator.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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