9 Body Language Mistakes Successful People Should Never Make

In my last post, I addressed how to turn a positive first impression into a memorable first impression. Our body language is one of the strongest forms of communication we use because it conveys words that we are either not saying or words that we should be saying. We need to be careful to make sure our body language is not incongruent to our verbal message as doing so can be very confusing. It is important to pay attention to what our body might be communicating, even if it is unintentional.

Aggressive Body Language

Intense eye contact can put people on guard. While it is important to make eye contact to signify you are giving someone your full attention, a hard stare can be unnerving. There is a reason people use the expression "stare down", and the reference is not a favourable one. Maintain consistent eye contact, but don’t be afraid to blink or momentarily glance away to give other people’s eyes a break.

Scowling sends a strong "don’t come near me" message. When someone looks like they are always in a foul mood, others are more hesitant to engage with them. They often decide it is just easier to stay out of the scowlers way. In contrast, a smile sends a friendly, approachable message that makes others feel welcome and naturally draws people in.

Clenched fists are often an indication of anger. When most of us think of a fist, we envision fighting or protesting. Try and remember to lighten up, loosen up, and shake those clenched hands out to send a less aggressive signal.

Disrespectful Body Language

Rolling your eyes is the easiest way to communicate disrespect and offend someone. Some people believe that this is an involuntary habit, but we actually do have control on whether we roll our eyes or not. When we disagree with something someone else has said, we should address the issue with calm and clear communication, so others are willing to listen to our point of view. Eye rolling doesn’t win anyone over.

Watching the clock or checking your phone is a sure-fire way to say that you have somewhere else you would rather be. If you actually do need to be somewhere else by a certain time, make a point of telling the person you are meeting with beforehand. If you don’t need to be anywhere, then you should respect the person’s time who you are with. Keep your attention on them, and off your watch, phone, or other time-keeping devices.

Slouching says, "I'm bored", "I don't care", "Is this over yet?" As you can see, so-called silent slouching says a lot. Sitting up straight shows attention and interest. Good posture makes you feel and look more confident and more in control.

Insecure Body Language

Avoiding eye contact is one of the first signs we show when it comes to expressing our discomfort or insecurity. When we look at someone's feet instead of at their face, it conveys doubt in ourselves and a level of submissiveness. It can also make the person we are speaking to feel awkward. Our eyes are the windows to our souls, and if you want to connect with someone, that all-important connection is forged through our eye contact.

Fidgeting with your hair, fingernails or anything else in the vicinity implies uncertainty, anxiety, distraction, and in some cases, even vanity. (That is if you’re fixing your hair or attire too much.) Plenty of people fidget when they get nervous. If you’re unsure of what to do with your hands, the best advice is to keep them folded in your lap.

Limp handshakes don’t make a confident or self assured impression. Plus, they feel gross. Handshakes are an opportunity to make a strong physical connection with someone. Don’t lose that moment by making the other person feel like they don’t want to ever shake your hand again. If you’re looking to do business with this person, you’ll want them shaking your hand on many occasions to come. A firm (not crushing) handshake makes a good, firm impression.

Body Language for Success

When our eyes are set on our success, we are operating on a whole different level. We are ‘owning’ that potential for success as if it has already happened to us. One of the most effective ways to achieve this next level is to transform our poor body language habits into positive ones. This means developing habits that convey warmth versus aggression, respect versus disrespect, and confidence versus insecurity. If you act and appear successful, you will be successful!

Sometimes an outside observer can make the most insightful suggestions. Worried about body language blind spots? Contact me for a consultation.

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