How to Use Body Language to Change the Way People See You
This story originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com.
As Ursula the sea witch famously said, "Don't underestimate the importance of body language."
Some tricks, like remembering to smile, are easy to implement in your everyday life.
However, other techniques, while relatively common sense, are somewhat trickier to tackle.
Still, they can make a huge difference.
Here are eight body-language hacks that can be tricky to master but will pay off forever once you do:
1. Mirror the person you're speaking to.
Mirroring — aligning your body to match the position of whoever you're speaking to — can be a tough skill to master. But doing it shows admiration and agreement, says Rosemary Haefner, the chief human-resources officer at CareerBuilder.
It can be hard to do this subtly, without looking like you're mimicking or mocking someone, but it's a good trick to employ if you're trying to make a good impression.
2. Walk with purpose and energy.
Not everyone walks with confidence. Some of us shuffle through life with a slumping, awkward gait.
And it can be tough to change the way we walk. But if you take some steps to improve it, you can help to ensure that people don't make snap judgments about your confidence, attractiveness, and trustworthiness, according to Scientific American.
3. Maintain good eye contact.
It's all in the eyes.
People with a shaky gaze often come across as anxious, distracted, or dishonest. It can be tough to master the skill of maintaining eye contact, since it's an uncomfortable and unnatural thing for some people. But it's a practice that can help you immensely in life.
Luckily, there are some simple techniques for maintaining better eye contact if you feel your stare isn't cutting it.
In "How To Talk To Anyone," the author and communication expert Leil Lowndes advises you should "pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner's with sticky, warm taffy."
Once you master this trick, you'll immediately see an improvement in your face-to-face communications with others.
4. Keep your hands visible.
It's hard to know what to do with your hands sometimes, especially if you're a somewhat nervous person.
As a result, you might take to compulsively jamming them in your pockets or crossing your arms. Those moves are understandable, but they also project a somewhat negative image.
As Business Insider previously reported, it's important to keep your hands visible, lest you look like you're hiding something.
Invite people in and allow them to trust you by using more open body language. Avoid positions that make you appear defensive — even if that's how you're feeling.
5. Don't fidget, but don't be too stiff.
Some people are just a bit twitchy — always drumming their fingers, tapping their feet, or twirling their hair. Some people are almost unnaturally still. The problem is that others may mistake that for dishonesty or fear.
That might be common knowledge, but Lillian Glass, a behavioral analyst and an expert on body language who has worked with the FBI on unmasking signals of deception, previously told Business Insider that you should also watch out for people who are not moving at all.
"This may be a sign of the primitive neurological 'fight,' rather than the 'flight,' response, as the body positions and readies itself for possible confrontation," Glass said. "When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in subtle, relaxed, and, for the most part, unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid, catatonic stance devoid of movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off."
If you can strike a balance between swaying and stiffness, you'll be able to make a better impression with others.
6. Sit up straight.
Your parents were right to constantly bark at you to adjust your terrible posture when you were a moody teen.
"If you lounge back in your chair, recruiters interpret it as a sign of your disinterest in the open position or that you're not taking the interview seriously, neither of which will help you land the job," Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert for TopResume, previously told Business Insider. "In addition, slumping over in the chair can indicate a lack of confidence."
Instead, she suggests sitting as if there were a string tied from the top of your head to the ceiling. Sitting up straight is seen as a sign of intelligence, confidence, and credibility, she says.
Anyone with bad posture can tell you that correcting your slouch is not always easy, but it's worth it in the long run.
7. Work on your handshake.
No one wants to receive a "dead fish" handshake. Writing on LinkedIn, Ashish Arora, a founder of InfoShore, says that "a weak handshake equals a weak person" in most people's minds.
So how do you give a great handshake?
Arora breaks it down: "When squeezing your hand you want the grip to be tight enough to feel the bones of the other person's hand lightly pressing into your skin and then keeping the same amount of pressure while you make two to three moderately strong shakes in the vertical plain. Maintain eye contact and a smile throughout."
8. Slow down.
When you're nervous, it can be easy to speed up everything, including your speech and movements.
"When we have precision in our movements, it's more powerful than simply doing something for the sake of the action," Economy wrote. "Our own brains know it, and the brains of everyone else know it too."
So take a deep breath, slow down, and be more deliberate about your movements at your next meeting. You'll look far more confident and competent.