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What Your Body Language Says About You

  Written by Ronnie Peterson

Whether you're on a first date or in a high stakes job interview, your body language is giving away more about your inner monologue than you might think.

Imagine that you are feeling nervous and on edge – you might start tapping your pen or bouncing your foot anxiously. If you are speaking to a person who you think is attractive, you might find yourself inadvertently twirling your hair between your fingers or leaning in and touching their arm.Both of these actions are going to communicate important meaning to those around you. The interviewer for the job position that you really have your heart set on is going to receive some pretty strong signals about your confidence.

They'll clearly see that you are very nervous, and they might start second guessing their decision to have you in for the interview in the first place.

No matter what you are saying out loud, your physicality might be betraying what you're really thinking to the other party. Body language can work for you – or against you.

Learning how your body language communicates emotions and messages is an important way to harness its potential to your best advantage – and win the upper hand in both professional and personal relationships.

Here are just a few body language tips that will transform the way you communicate in all aspects of your life.Tip 1: Smile

A smile goes a long way – A smile is truly the most important thing that you can wear. A genuine smile will make you appear more attractive, trustworthy and friendly, and it can actually increase stress-fighting endorphins into your body.

While you might feel a little bit strange, try practicing your smile in front of the mirror every morning before you leave the house.

Remember – a warm and genuine smile includes the eyes, not just the mouth, teeth and lips. If you do not smile with your eyes and simply bare your teeth, you can actually appear very threatening.

Tip 2: Look Engaged

Make sure you appear engaged – When you are speaking to another party, if you have your arms crossed or your legs tilted away from the other person, you can appear very disinterested or even hostile.

Your arms should be relaxed at your side or used for illustrating a point, and your feet should be flat on the floor with knees bent at a right angle.

Tip 3: Good Personal Grooming

Personal grooming should never be neglected – When you take just a quick glance at a friend, you can usually tell if they are having a good or bad day just by the way they are groomed and dressed.

Are their clothes crumpled and mismatched? Do they have frizzy, frazzled hair that looks like it hasn't seen a comb in days? Are their fingernails well clipped and groomed?

All of these things count towards someone's initial opinion of you; it always pays to remember the credo "dress for success."

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Tip 4: A Good Posture

A slumped posture signals a sloppy person – While it may feel more comfortable in the moment, a slumped and hunched posture can send a huge message.

It will likely tell others that you are unkempt, lazy and simply not taking the exchange very seriously. Your spine and neck should be upright (but not stiff) and your head pointed at the other party.

Tip 5: No Fidgeting!

Fidgeting is a big no no – American workplace solutions giant Adecco USA surveyed more than 500 managers about interview etiquette and behaviour and they found some interesting data about fidgeting.

A full one fifth of rejected candidates were dismissed outright because they were fidgeters! Managers found that this signified a candidate who had a lack of confidence and seemed unprepared for their interview.

Bouncing your foot up and down, tapping a pen or generally just shifting around too much – all of these actions could be sending the message that you don't feel ready for this position.

Tip 6: Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is key – You may have had experiences in your life with someone who avoids eye contact; it tends to make a person seem insincere, ‘shifty' or like they have something to hide.

On the other side of the spectrum, someone who practices too much eye contact can also seem strange – staring will make other parties feel that you are aggressive or downright ‘creepy.'

However, an appropriate amount of eye contact will send the signal that you are trustworthy, engaged and reliable.

Are you worried that your body language is not communicating what you want it to say? Do you think that you might be missing out on opportunities because your body language is inappropriate?

Do you have a big job interview coming up, or a blind date with someone who you really think you'll like? If any of these sound familiar, you really need to work on the silent messages that you are sending out to your audience.While you might feel a little bit strange or awkward at first, practicing all of the above body language cues (and many others) can help you get comfortable with projecting the right body language.

Whether you are looking to attract a new mate or get the upper hand in a bargaining session, if you don't practice your body language cues you might be at a disadvantage.

Let's return back to the example at the beginning of this article – you're in a job interview, and the constant tapping of your foot or a pen turns off the interviewer and you lose out on your dream job.

What could have happened if you had followed some of the tips above and walked into the meeting with a welcoming, engaged posture, a confident smile and appropriate eye contact?

What would have they have thought of you if you hadn't fidgeted throughout the meeting? Things could have worked out very differently.

As with learning any language, studying body language cues will not only help you harness the power of non-verbal communication, it will give you a big boost of confidence.

Remember – knowledge is power. The more you know about body language, the more you will be able to use it to your advantage when the time is right.

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