We send signals to everyone every day without ever uttering a word.
- When we walk up to a checkout counter, we send signals to those standing in line and to the clerk
- While in a meeting we send signals when we are simply sitting there and listening
- We send signals to people at the dinner table and to people around us at a social event
Each of these little signals sends messages about you and give people insights into your mood and your personality. There are both large body movements as well small micro-messages from facesthat send these messages, and impressions are made quickly.
What’s Not to Like?
We all want to be liked, and we all want others to think of us as likeable. What if there were some little body language tricks that you could use that would send “like” messages to others? Well, there are. And here are 10 of them you can use when you want to appear likeable.
1. Posture – Keep it Straight
Whether you are sitting or standing, poor posture, such as slouching sends messages of all kinds – lack of interest, sullenness, bad mood, and general ids-satisfaction about one’s “world.” Most of us don’t want to be around people we perceive as negative, and this is one piece of body language that exudes that. Sit or stand up straight and tall. This shows you are alert, interested, and a positive person. And it can also indicate leadership skill. Others will stay in your presence because they like your confidence and energy.
There has been a lot of research on such things as “personal space” and care not to violate it. This really refers to more sustained closeness, such as standing over someone or moving in very close during a discussion. There are small physical gestures, especially when greeting someone, which send messages of likeability. The next time you are introduced to someone and you reach out to shake their hand, put your other hand gentle on their forearm or shoulder as you shake. This says you are friendly, open and that you are glad to meet this person. Their response will be friendlier too.
3. Keep that Eye Contact
Again, you don’t want to stare if neither of you is saying anything. But when you speak or when the other person speaks, keep it going. Tilting your head can also send a message that you are interested and really listening as will nodding your head. We humans like to believe that people are hearing what we say and that they are honoring our opinions, our points of views and the information we may have to impart. When people behave this way toward us, we like them. Not maintaining eye contact shows you are not interested and that the other person is not worthy in your mind.
4. Keep Your Hands Open
When you fold your hands in front of you, possibly on a table, you say that you are a bit closed to the other person. Keeping hands open indicated honesty and openness of mind, and that makes you more “approachable.” And using gestures while you speak is also a good thing – it shows you are animated and energetic. Others like people who have some “personality” showing.
5. Turn Toward the Person
Suppose you are sitting at a conference table. When someone speaks, turn toward them with the upper half of your body. If you are on a bench and your entire body is exposed, turn more of your body toward them. When you do that, you say that you are interested in them. When you remain straight ahead or even turn away, you tell someone you have no interest and, in fact, dislike them.
A harried and harassed clerk in a store will find a smile from you very welcome. It says, “I appreciate you.” And a warm medium-sized smile tells a strange to whom you are being introduced that you are glad to meet them. They will also trust you more than if you keep your mouth tight and straight. Huge wide grins are better reserved for later, once conversation has gone on for a while, and should be in genuine response to something funny or really pleasing.
7. Copy Others’ Movements But Not Too Conspicuously
It is a fact of communication that, when two people are engaged in conversation, when one smiles the other usually does; when one frowns, the other usually does as well. You can also copy other small movements, such as tilting of a head, nodding, etc. This tells the other that you like him/her and that you are really listening to what I being said.
8. Keep Feet Apart if Standing or if the Other can See Your Feet
If you keep your feet apart, you are signaling openness and receptivity. This is an important signal, because the other person will feel more relaxed about speaking honestly with you. People who feel relaxed with you like you. And it show that you are comfortable around them. Crossing your feet signals being “closed.”
9. Stay Relatively Still
People fidget when they are nervous or uncomfortable. Fidgeting signals that your mind is elsewhere or that you are not comfortable with them around. When you fidget around others, they will avoid contact with you in the future. Sometimes, fidgeting is a sign of being dishonest, and you certainly don’t want to give that impression.
10. Pretend this Stranger is an Old Friend
If you know that you are usually nervous or uncomfortable meeting someone, your body language may give a wrong message – that you are dis-interested, closed, or unfriendly. What you can do to relieve this is to pretend that you are greeting an old friend whom you have not seen in a while. This will relax you, make you seem far more open/friendly, and will show positive emotion.
Once you are aware of the signals your body language can send out, you will probably be more conscious of those messages. Practice these body movements until they become more habitual. People will receive you well and see you as someone they want to know better.