by Laura Buckler: Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to some people and repelled by others for no particular reason, everything else being equal?
For example, if you are at a party and you strike a conversation with identical twins, you may find talking more to one than the other. Chances are, the difference is in their body language. One twin may be sending the right nonverbal messages to promote conversation, while the other twin may not. It may be a smile, eye contact, or body posture. You may not be consciously aware of it, but you are responding to it nonetheless, and this would explain your preference for interacting with one twin.
The thing is, you may be sending the wrong nonverbal cues on occasion (or all the time) as well without knowing it. This could have a significant effect in both your professional and personal life, as it can affect how other people perceive you.
Here are 12 tips to improve your body language, so you send the right unspoken messages to people you meet.
- Practice your facial expressions.
You often see people in movies speaking their lines in front of the mirror as they rehearse what they mean to say at a pivotal moment. Although it is often a funny or silly moment in the movie, it is actually a great idea. You can see what your face looks like as you say something, and you can judge for yourself if what you say and how your face looks project your intended meaning.
If you are naturally expressionless when at rest, practice smiling in front of the mirror to make sure it looks natural, and get your muscles used to the movement, and it will soon become automatic. When you smile when speaking to someone, you will often see the other person smile back, and that can make both of you feel more comfortable.
- Meet their eyes.
Looking at someone straight in the eye makes anything you say sound convincing, and engenders trust. However, maintaining eye contact is often hard for some people, so if you are shy, for example, try looking at a point a little above the person’s eye until you feel comfortable enough to make eye contact. Be careful not to stare, though, as that can also be off-putting.
- Be aware of tone.
One of the tricks of talking to someone on the phone is to smile as you speak. Smiling as you say something alters your intonation, making you sound warm and attentive. You can use the same trick when talking to someone in person to put him or her at ease.
Of course, if your intention is to convey a different message altogether, you should make sure your tone of voice should match as well. For example, if you want someone to pay attention to what you are saying, a stern tone will get the job done more than what you are actually saying.
- Adopt a listening pose.
The way you sit or stand and how your arms move is often an indication of your level of interest. Sitting or standing straight while leaning slightly forward conveys interest, while slumping or crossing your arms over your chest shows disinterest or defensiveness. If you want communication to flow, adopt a listening pose when speaking with someone.
- Use encouraging noises or gestures.
People often listen for clues that you understand or follow what they are saying, so don’t be afraid to interject some encouraging noises or gestures at appropriate times. A simple nod can be enough to signify agreement or understanding, but you can also say “uhuh,” “I see,” and so on to keep them going.
- Breathe deeply.
Sighing or yawning is often interpreted as signs of boredom or disinterest, but it may just be because of improper breathing. If you want to avoid the involuntary sigh or yawn while conversing with someone, practice breathing slowly and deeply at all times, especially when you are feeling tired or anxious. It will help calm and relax you, and make you a better conversationalist.
- Control gestures.
Many people habitually gesture with their hands when they speak, and while this can emphasize their point, it can be quite distracting when done in excess. If you have this habit, make sure that you control your gestures so it doesn’t take too much attention away from what you are saying.
- Respect personal space.
Some people feel uncomfortable when you get too physically close to them. Watch for signs of how they feel about your proximity, such as leaning or stepping away when you go closer. This signals that you should move a bit away to make them feel more relaxed. This simple consideration is often enough to give them a good impression of you.
- Get a grip on your handshake.
When meeting someone for the first time, the handshake is often the gauge of someone’s personality. A too-firm or too-limp handshake conveys arrogance or insecurity, respectively. Your best bet is to take someone’s hand with a firm grip without squeezing, and pump it twice before letting go. If you have sweaty hands, make sure you keep a handkerchief handy to wipe your palms before taking someone’s hand.
- Slow down.
Be aware of how fast and how loud you speak. When you talk too fast or too slow, people find it difficult to understand you. When you speak too softly they have to strain to hear you, while when you speak too loudly, it is annoying. Unless you want them to get your message by reading a coursework writing services post on your blog, strive for a deliberate pace in a clear voice, pausing at intervals to allow people to process what you are saying. That way, you avoid running out of breath and losing your audience.
- Listen fully.
Most people only listen with half an ear because they are busy thinking of what they are going to say next. Giving someone your full attention when he or she is talking can be hard, but give it the old college try. The speaker can feel it when you are engaged fully, and will listen just as attentively when it is your turn to speak. You will not only communicate more effectively, you will be that rare and desirable “good listener.”
- Be mindful of your energy.
People are often unaware of the type of energy they exude, but others take their cue from that. If you exude negative energy, people tend to be repelled and avoid you. If you want to be attractive to others, be mindful of your energy, and strive to make it a positive one. Hold a positive feeling or emotion in your head as you converse, and you will exude it without even knowing it.
Your body language is all-important when it comes to communicate. When you follow these 12 tips, you will be able to improve your relationships and life to an astonishing degree. Try it, and be amazed!
Author bio: Laura Buckler is a writer, entrepreneur, and mother of two. She regularly contributes articles on self-improvement and lifestyle tips on many sites as a guest writer. Laura is also fond of cooking and baking. Follow her on twitter