Body Language Tips For Making Lasting Impressions
Body language sends signals to others that impact your credibility and professionalism. Being aware of these signals will help you to appear more open and confident.
When you maintain eye contact, you present an air of confidence in yourself and what you are communicating. People who are listening to what you are saying will take you more seriously, and will take what you say as important. Failing to maintain eye contact during a conversation can send mixed signals to the person you are speaking with. It is often construed as a tell-tale-sign that you might not be forthcoming or truthful in what you are saying—liars tend to not keep eye contact.
Tips for Eye Contact
- Make contact with your listener and hold for a comfortable amount of time. Too long will feel like you are staring and that can be intimidating. Too short and you will come across suspiciously. Three to five seconds at a minimum is a good guideline.
- Match eye contact with a warm, sincere smile. You’ll be sure to make a powerful connection that will result in long-term business relationships.
- Be sensitive to the listener’s comfort level with eye contact. People who are shyer may be less comfortable with eye contact than others. The goal of eye contact is to increase the comfort level for your listener.
- Cultural Differences: In the United States, eye contact is an expected form of non- verbal communication. In other parts of the world such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America, people avoid eye contact as a sign of respect. If you are working with people from other cultures, find out what is acceptable and comfortable.
Facial expressions convey emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger and fear. Facial expressions are often involuntary. Be careful of facial expressions that may send a message you aren’t meaning to. For example, some people have the tendency to get an angry or confused look on their face when they are concentrating or processing information. Ask for feedback about your facial expressions and make necessary adjustments.
Your posture tells others about your confidence and professionalism:
- Stand up straight! This means shoulders back, head up and stomach in to show confidence.
- A brisk, erect walk shows confidence.
- Be careful of crossing your arms – this can show defensiveness.
A firm handshake is critical to showing confidence and professionalism. When you meet someone, it’s one of the things that impact that first impression. Avoid the following types of handshakes:
Controller: A person extends his hand to you, web-to-web, and as soon as your hands are linked, he purposely maneuvers his hand onto the top. He’s telling you he wants to be in charge. Keep that in mind as the interaction continues.
Sandwich: Use this one only with people you know. When you envelop another person’s hands, you are invading their private space … where you are to be only when invited. The society promotes the standard handshake but is not as tolerant of using both hands.
Limp Fingers: Women, more than men, extend their fingers rather than their entire hand. It can be painful for the extender when she is greeted by a man who shakes with his forceful grip. Men tell me this frequently leads to their giving women a lighter handshake. Professional women respond that they want to be treated equally. One of the ways to combat this syndrome is to always extend your full hand (never cup it) horizontally, even if your grip is light.
Ingredients of a Good Handshake:
- Start with eye contact.
- Reach out with a straight arm.
- Use the whole hand to grip.
- “Shake” a maximum of three shakes.
- Maintain eye contact throughout the handshake.
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