When you meet people, you have five minutes to establish a positive relationship. Conclusions aren’t drawn solely from what a person says. 90% of opinions are formed based on non-verbal communication alone – your body language. Even the most confident person can send mixed messages with their body language.
A first impression is usually formed within just a few seconds; most of the time you haven’t even said a full sentence.
First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues than verbal cues. In fact, studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say. Luckily, the same nonverbal factors that draw you to certain people are what others are instinctively looking for in you.
These are the very qualities that you can project nonverbally in those first crucial few seconds. Here are some powerful ways to make a positive first impression.
- Adjust your attitude.
People pick up your attitude instantly. Before you turn to greet someone, or enter an office for a business interview, or step onstage to make a presentation, think about the situation and make a conscious choice about the attitude you want to embody. Attitudes that attract people include friendly, happy, receptive, patient, approachable, welcoming, helpful and curious. Attitudes that are off-putting include angry, impatient, bored, arrogant, afraid, disheartened, and suspicious.
- Stand tall.
Pull your shoulders back and hold your head high. This is a posture of confidence and self-esteem.
A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome. It says, “I’m friendly and approachable.”
- Make eye contact.
Looking at someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest and openness. (To improve your eye contact, make a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you meet.)
- Raise your eyebrows.
Open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the “eyebrow flash” that is the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgement.
- Shake hands.
This is the quickest way to establish rapport. It’s also the most effective. Research shows it takes an average of three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level of rapport that you can get with a single handshake. (Just make sure you have palm-to-palm contact and that the web of your hand touches the web of the other person’s.)
- Lean in slightly.
Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and interested. But be respectful of the other person’s space. That means, in most business situations, staying about two feet away.
Hope the above points will help you Use your body language to make a positive first impression — because by the time you speak, you already may have had your only chance.