Body Language 101: Making the Most of Physical Introduction

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Flickr CC via Nicola Corboy

It’s believed that over half of communication is nonverbal. What we say with our speech is often our focus, but it accounts for only a portion of our communication with other people. Body language includes our posture, facial expressions, gestures, and anything else we do physically that sends a message to others.

Because so much of communication is body language and because we’re often unaware of it, it’s extremely important to learn about it. Utilizing body language can be rewarding and give you an advantage in your life and career. Here are the basics of body language.

1. The Handshake

One of the most durable traditions is the handshake – and for good reason. The tactile nature of a handshake creates a positive impression, and forms a lasting bond between humans. Shaking hands will also make you more memorable to those you meet.   Utilize the handshake in your professional life by remembering to shake hands – while making eye contact – when meeting new clients or at the beginning of a job interview. You will appear both confident and friendly.

2. Mirroring

Subtly imitating the postures of the person you’re talking to creates feelings of agreement, trust and likability. In fact, this tactic is taught to some salespeople as a way to build rapport with potential customers.Subtlety is key. Don’t copycat, but be aware of what the other person is doing. Arms folded? Legs crossed? Hands in pockets? Think of mirroring these postures. Being caught trying to mirror someone’s body language could be disastrous, but careful mirroring can send powerful subconscious messages.

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3. Smile

A smile is the universally recognized expression for happy feelings. That’s what makes it such a powerful social tool. If you smile often, you have the power to change people’s moods while appearing happy, confident, and trustworthy. Smiling is perhaps the most effective form of nonverbal communication. This simple muscle movement can improve your own mood, the moods of others, and enhance your social influence greatly. A genuine smile can go a long way.

Remember these body language tips and more next time you’re in a social situation. These are the basics, but there are lots of great resources to learn more.

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