What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

Becoming aware of how we carry ourselves can help to improve body language and send the right messages to the people we meet.

Feb 9, 2019

Body language is a powerful nonverbal way of communicating with other people. Before even speaking to someone, our gestures and movements send a message. Becoming aware of how we carry ourselves can help to improve body language and send the right messages to the people we meet.

Why Does Body Language Matter?

Thousands of years ago, ancient humans assessed body signals from a distance to determine if a person is safe or dangerous. Although we don’t deal with the same kind of life or death scenarios as our ancestors, our brains still rely on body language to quickly assess other people.

When you first walk into a room, people subconsciously make judgments about you based on how you carry yourself. You can adapt things like your posture, hand gestures, and the expression on your face to appear more confident, attractive, and successful.

Strike a Power Pose to Appear More Successful and Confident

Want to make a good impression? Start with your posture. Long before Rocky Balboa took his victory pose at the top of the museum steps, humans celebrated achievement in a similar stance. As Director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis in Philadelphia, Margaret J. King, explains, “That position – the arms raised high – evokes triumph, and it’s very ancient... I would bet that comes from a good hunt, from having successfully hunted and killed prey.”

“The Plains Indians’ dances used this as well, where the arms were over the heads, and that’s really, really important for group morale: ‘We won!’,” she adds.

Psychologists refer to it as the “power pose”. In this posture, a person carries their body in an expansive and open manner with arms and legs held away from the body, taking up more space. (Think of a runner crossing the finish line).

Humans who take on this pose appear more successful and confident, qualities that make us more attractive. You don’t have to wave your hands in the air and jump around to achieve this, but instead, find a natural, comfortable way to imitate the power pose. The added bonus?  Standing tall and upright may actually make you feel more powerful by increasing certain hormones in the body. So the next time you walk into a room, strike a power pose to leave an impactful, positive first impression.

Make More Friends With a Genuine Smile

Want to meet new friends and build better relationships? Smiling is an easy, instant way to appear more cheerful and increase positive communication with those you meet. In fact, people who smile often are perceived as more likeable and more attractive than those who don’t. When approaching and communicating with others, practice a warm, genuine smile to leave a favorable impression.

Leave a Lasting (Good) Impression With the Right Amount of Eye Contact

The right amount of eye contact has lots of benefits in how people perceive you. First, it lets people know you are listening. It also makes you more memorable. However, staring too hard at someone can feel intense and creepy. You avoid this by occasionally breaking the gaze and leaning in with your ear toward the person speaking to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact.

Impress the People You Meet With a Firm Handshake

For thousands of years, people across cultures have used the handshake as a sign of friendship and goodwill. Some say it originated to show that a person wasn’t carrying a weapon. This short ritual remains a common custom used when meeting someone new or when sealing a business agreement when done right. Make sure to give a firm handshake (without crushing the other person’s hand) and look the person in the eye and smile. Doing so will make a favorable impression on those you meet.

ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.

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