A good first impression is destroyed faster than you think. It’s not just what you say that matters. Your attitude also influences how you come across to the other person.
What you do with your hands and how you look at them, these are all signals that you send to the other person.
In short: body language is extremely important, whether it is a presentation for your work or a profile picture on a dating site. So it is worth paying attention to.
Below are some common mistakes when using body language that can make you appear less confident, more nervous, less attractive or even more likely to become a victim of a crime.
Your handshake is weak
Your handshake can reveal a lot about you. In a blog post for Psychology Today, psychologist John D. Mayer cites two studies showing how.
A 2000 University of Alabama study of college students shows that you can learn a lot about the character of the person you shake hands with. Students with a firm handshake are more positive, exuberant and less afraid of social interaction.
And a 2008 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found, after simulated job interviews, that students who shook hands more firmly at the beginning were more likely to be hired at the end.
You fold yourself
Research shows that people with an open attitude are more attractive than people with a closed attitude, even if we are not aware of it. Think of spread arms instead of hanging shoulders or crossed arms.
A 2016 study showed that men and women with a closed-posed photo were less likely to be selected than exactly the same people in an open-posed pose.
You hide your hands
Keeping your hands out of sight makes it seem like you have something to hide, says the book “Crazy Good Interviewing” by John B. Molidor and Barbara Parus.Relax a little.
TED speakers who make more hand gestures on stage are viewed more often, Vanessa van Edwards of consultancy Science of People discovered.
You walk slowly or with small steps
A small 2013 study found that inmates who exhibit psychopathic behavior can identify people who have been victims of a crime in the past, based in part on the way they walk.
People who walked slowly and with short strides were seen as easy targets and more vulnerable to attack.
The only problem is that it’s not that easy to change your gait. Even if you consciously practice it, the effects disappear over time, researchers say. Still, it’s worth a try.
You avoid eye contact — or look at someone for too long
Eye contact can help with social relationships and increase empathy between people. But how much is enough?
The Wall Street Journal reports that adults make between 30% and 60% eye contact during an average conversation. But they would need to make between 60% and 70% eye contact to really make an emotional connection.
The Cut cites a British study that the ideal length of eye contact is 3.3 seconds. Then the person in front of you will feel most comfortable.
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