Body language is extremely important when it comes to making good first impressions. It's always helpful to know what body cues show you in a positive light, especially during interviews or networking when you're meeting someone for the first time. It can make a difference and even make you more likeable. Keep these tips in mind when you're interacting with another person:
- Smile slowly. If you're too quick to come to a smile or drop one, your expression may not look genuine. Real smiles happen gradually, but remember not to do it too slowly because it can also look creepy. Do your best to mimic a natural smile by practicing in the mirror.
- Speak in a deeper voice. When you're nervous or excited, your voice may come out in a higher pitch. Take a deep breath and lower your pitch, because a deeper voice is considered to have more authority and confidence. In fact, even dogs respond better to deeper voices when you are trying to give them a command.
- Make eye contact. When talking to someone, making eye contact shows interest and also confidence. Don't go overboard and gaze without breaking eye contact, because that can make people feel uncomfortable. Spend the majority of the time making eye contact, but remember to briefly take breaks.
- Have good posture. Sit or stand up straight and avoid slouching. Slouching can make you look less professional and can possibly make you look less confident and enthusiastic.
- Lean. Move your body slightly forward toward the person you're talking to. This reflects interest. However, if you want to show that you're relaxed, lean back a little bit. Don't overdo the leaning or it may either look like you have no idea of what personal space is if you lean forward too much or make you look uninterested and uppity if you lean too far back.
- Don't fidget. Don't fiddle with your hands or shake your leg because that can portray nervousness or restlessness. Relax and slow down your movements.
- Stay uncrossed. Keep your hands and legs uncrossed because that can make you seem cold and distant. If you're not crossing your arms, you'll look more open and less guarded.
- Mirror movements. People often unconsciously mirror people whom they get along with. You can do things like smile or frown along with the speaker or gesture more if you see the other person talking with her hands.
It's always good to remember that if you're not relaxed, these attempts at better body language may be for naught. When you're nervous, other people will be able to spot that, and it may make them feel a bit jittery in turn. Do some stretches beforehand (and out of sight!) if you're looking to make a good impression on someone, and take deep breaths.