There are things you can do to send subconscious signals using body language that make people like you better, or at least give you the benefit of the doubt.
1. Attitude & body language
Pay attention to this instinct, but never act on it without knowing the person better. The tricks below will trigger you to behave in ways that are perceived well.
Feel secure and project confidence
There are two things to consider with this point:
• Try to remove things that make you uncomfortable
o For me bad skin was an issue, which I solved like this
o Another was clothing choice, which I solved by bringing along a girl when shopping
• Train yourself to help you feel secure
o I learned a lot from self-help audiobooks I downloaded
o For me staying in shape helped a lot.
Everyone is a friend, unless proven otherwise
Why burn bridges before you’ve made them in the first place? It makes no sense:
• You have everything to gain
• You have nothing to lose
You will notice soon enough if this person would/wants to be a good friend.
Everyone deserves respect, unless proven otherwise
Again, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by treating people with respect. That doesn’t mean you should kiss boots all day; it means you shouldn’t dismiss anyone or make them feel unimportant.
Like everybody, until they don’t deserve it
Strangers deserve to have the benefit of the doubt. In our world anyone can be anything, without looking like it. I’ve met douchebags who looked kind and billionaires that behaved like excited children. Look at the cover of the book, but read a few pages before judging.
Always think about what you can do for others
Offer help, but don’t insist. Keep it short and let them decide.
Your body is constantly signalling the people you meet. Posture influences the snap second judgement people make about you, but also what you think about yourself.
Stand up straight, but relaxed
To find positive posture, try the following:
1. Stand with your feet as wide as your hips
2. Make yourself as tall as possible, imagine being pulled up by the top of your head
3. Now keep that feeling of being tall but relax your shoulders
4. Relax your neck and angle your head so you don’t have to look up or down to look an average person in the eyes
• Relax as much as possible while maintaining your posture
• Don’t puff your chest, it should be flat as if you are lying on a floor
• Pull your shoulders back very slightly
Sit up straight, but not rigid
When you start sitting up straight, you will notice how small most people make themselves. You will instantly feel quite tall when sitting at a table. Keep your back straight, but relax as much as possible.
Always have some tension in your core
Your abs, back and general core should never be flaccid/floppy when you stand or sit. Keep your abs and core in general under some tension. Not only does it reflect well upon your posture, but it also makes it easier to move with grace.
Position your feet at about hip width apart
The stance of your feet says a lot about you. It’s not an exact science, but putting your feet closer together generally signifies insecurity, whereas a wider stance indicates confidence.
Both holding your feet too close together and too far apart can reflect badly upon you. Try to aim for a position where your feet are at hip width or slightly wider apart, but not much.
3. Entering a Room
The moment you enter a room is the moment you expose yourself to the judgement of the people in that room. Make sure to make use of that.
Smile like you are happy to be there
Regardless of whether you are, smile when you enter a room. Smile like you really like what you are seeing. Don’t overdo it, don’t laugh out loud. Smile like you stepped outside and noticed the sun was shining.
Greet the crowd
Not explicitly. Don’t shout “HEY!” or draw explicit attention unless these are people who appreciate such behavior. Otherwise take a moment to stand still or walk slowly while looking at the people in the room.
• Make eye contact
Don’t glance over the crowd like it’s an object. Look people in the eye and if anyone holds your gaze smile at them. Make people feel like a positive influence just entered this room.
• Take your time
This shows confidence, but also signifies an open attitude.
4. The Handshake
Use a firm but gentle handshake
Men, especially, are sensitive to the way you shake a hand. A weak or ‘dead fish’ handshake will instantly lose you likability points.
• Don’t just ‘offer’ your hand, a handshake is teamwork
• Use the pressure you would use to grab the stick of a heavy pan
• If a person is offering you a ‘dead fish’ handshake, don’t squeeze too hard
Make eye contact as you shake hands
Looking away automatically signifies negative things:
• You don’t have attention/respect for the other person
• You have something to hide
Look into someone’s eyes long enough to memorize their eye color. Don’t stare, just observe for a moment.
Smile like they made your day
When looking into someone’s eyes during the shake, smile as if you saw something in their eyes that makes you happy.
Don’t laugh out loud, just smile.
How and where you position yourself makes a difference in how you are perceived. Positioning combined with posture is very powerful.
Open your stance
When you are talking to someone, position your body in such a way that you are open to them. Preferably position yourself in a ‘vulnerable’ way. Don’t cover your chest with your arms, don’t slouch etc. This signifies trust and comfort.
Angle yourself towards the person you are speaking to
It is a subtle change, but making sure that your body is ‘pointing’ to your conversational partner makes a difference. Angling away can signify fearfulness, insecurity and mistrust.
Don’t lean on or against objects
Leaning on/against an object (e.g. a wall) signifies passivity and possibly insecurity. Whenever you can stand up with good posture. Using the tips from the posture section, try to develop a comfortable ‘neutral stance’.
When you do lean, use posture
If you do have to lean against something for whatever reason, keep good posture. Don’t slouch.
6. Your Face
Your face is an area with a lot of signalling. In fact there is a lot of research into micro expressions people make subconsciously. People project a lot of information without knowing it. You can use your face to signal information about yourself to people.
Make your neutral face a happy face
Ever heard of ‘resting bitch face syndrome’? Some people claim their face at rest looks annoyed/angry, which makes people perceive them as a social danger. You preferably wouldn’t talk to a person with that kind of an expression on their face.
It says nothing about the actual person though. But it does disadvantage them.
Make sure that your face at rest (e.g. when you are working on a laptop) looks relaxed, if not happy. An easy trick is to have a look on your face like something is mildly amusing to you.
Don’t break eye contact instantly
People have a habit of looking away if they meet a person’s eyes. Try not do do this. Keep eye contact, and smile. Often people will look away, though some people will hold your gaze.
Doing this has multiple effects:
• People perceive you as more open
• You will feel more confident
Please note that when you hold someone’s gaze, be sure to smile. Looking impassively can be very creepy…
How to smile
There is a very simple trick to smiling: imagine you are seeing something you really like.
Smiling is not about moving your face in a certain way, it is about feeling a happy feeling and letting your face express it.
7. Techniques and habits
Here I cover some things you can do that often involve some measure of interaction with your conversational/communication data.
Mirror your posture
A powerful technique that has been researched a lot is mirroring. This means people feel more comfortable around you and like you better if you stand the way they do. For example:
• They have their arms crossed? Cross your arms
• They are leaning on their right leg? Lean on your right leg
• Are they holding a drink? Hold a drink
The key here is not to be obvious. The moment they notice consciously what you are doing, the technique loses power.
As with the above point, you shouldn’t be obvious. But little things can go a long way:
• You are having a coffee, they pick up their cup to drink? Do the same
• If they smile, smile back (that’s an easy one)
• Are they stepping a bit closer to you? Do the same
Again, don’t be obvious and don’t be a creep. This technique should be used in an unobtrusive manner, but frequently.