NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS
You may have heard that when you meet someone new, you’ve got mere seconds to make a good impression. For better or worse, it’s true – your non verbal communication is all it takes for someone to form an opinion about you. At a glance, this can be based solely on your body language, your attire and how you carry yourself.
So in our socially driven world, how can you ensure that you make the best impression possible, when it really counts?
Whether it’s a job interview or a first date, making a good first impression involves self-awareness and being able to direct your non-verbal communication.
Read on to learn more about the key forms of non verbal communication and how to use them in your favour.
Eye contact is considered the most important factor in nonverbal communication. Making and maintaining good eye contact shows that you’re interested in what the other person is saying, and engaged in the conversation.
When you first meet someone and make strong eye contact, you’re displaying confidence and inviting connection. Conversely, if your focus is elsewhere and your eyes dart around, you can come across as insecure – or even rude.
Because eye contact is so powerful, you should also be conscious not to stare at someone too intensely, making them feel uneasy. If it doesn’t come naturally, try to make direct eye contact with your conversation partner 80% of the time, and allow your eyes to wander for 20% of the time. It’s also helpful to use gestures like nodding and words of affirmation as you listen, to indicate you’re following their points.
POSTURE AND PRESENTATION
We all know that slouching rather than standing tall isn’t the best way to present yourself. When you’re slumped over or have hunched shoulders, it can portray a lack of confidence and authority.
Be aware of your posture in situations where it counts: stand up straight with your shoulders back and your head held high. Chances are, just by improving your posture you’ll feel an extra boost of confidence. Holding yourself well makes you seem more approachable, and more present in your interactions.
ARMS AND HANDS
The position of your arms becomes more noticable when you’re speaking to an audience, whether it’s a job interview or a presentation. By moving your arms around alot or fidgeting, you can come across as nervous or even untrustworthy.
Similarly, by crossing your arms across your chest, you appear closed off from the conversation or untruthful. Be sure to relax your arms by your side and position your hands together loosely to form a triangle. These small gestures make a world of difference when it comes to appearing confident and engaged in your conversation.
When it comes to handshakes, don’t oversqueeze someone’s hand or let your hand lay limp. A firm, steady handshake will present you as confident and capable, and set you up for a good first impression.
Fidgeting is one of the most distracting forms of non verbal communication. In a professional setting, it’s hard to focus on someone’s message if they are constantly moving their hands and fingers. Authority figures such as business leaders and politicians are usually trained to curb their fidgeting so that their message is more believable. Their delivery needs to exude knowledge and self-assuredness – even when they’re unsure.
The next time you find yourself nervously fidgeting, stop for a moment. Take a breath, stand up straight and fold your hands either on top of one another or on the table or podium in front of you. Using this moment to recollect yourself should help you cease fidgeting for the time being. As you continue this habit, it will become easier to cut off the urge to fidget as soon as it starts. Eventually, you’ll stop fidgeting altogether.
When you’re truly looking to form lasting connections through effective nonverbal communication methods, you can harness the power of deep listening. Deep listening combines different tenets of nonverbal communication, such as maintaining steady eye contact, working to be truly present and engaged in the conversation, offering nonverbal feedback such as smiles and nods and positioning your body in a way that’s close to your conversation partner while retaining good posture.
When done together, the result is deep listening, a state in which you are fully absorbing what your partner is saying, and they feel able to communicate with you openly and honestly.
There are so many ways that you can add value to any conversation, group meeting or social interaction, but they’re easy to overlook if you’re not carrying yourself in a way that sparks conversation and connection. Nonverbal cues and gestures can say infinitely more than words can on their own. By refining your body language and presenting yourself in a way that exudes sincerity, confidence and knowledge, you’ll deepen your existing relationships and create meaningful new ones, too.