First Impressions

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. What they often fail to mention is that that first impression is whipped together in about 10 seconds.

Many would be surprised to learn that how you are perceived by others has more to do with how you look than what you say. In a classic UCLA study, Dr. Albert Mehrabian concluded that a whopping 93% of the message we communicate is delivered though the way we look, act and sound. Only 7% of our message is passed along by what we actually say.

Shocking? Here are a few body language tips you can easily incorporate to your regular routine in order to help you present the best image possible.

The Eyes Have It
Many people feel uncomfortable with eye contact mainly because they don’t know where to look. In formal or serious situations, your gaze should travel anywhere in the triangle between the eyes of your acquaintance and the middle of their forehead. In more relaxed social situations, the gaze is lowered to the area between the eyes and corners of the face below the mouth.

Holding Pattern
Placing objects between you and the person or group you are speaking with is generally not the best idea. They create a barrier and communicate shyness, resistance and insecurity. Instead of making a speech from behind a podium or holding notebooks or even a cup of coffee in front of you all of which can make it difficult for you to connect with your audience, step out from behind the podium or hold items at your side whenever possible.

Open and Shut
Open body language is welcoming, relaxed and attentive and will generally elicit a positive reaction over closed. Your body, including your hands, are in plain view and eye contact is good. Closed body language involves hiding or shrouding yourself from those you are interacting with. Crossing the arm and or legs, turning your body away from the person you are communicating with or not making eye contact are examples of closed body language.

An important tip when trying to read the body language of others is to look for clusters of behaviour. Crossed arms can communicate arrogance, resistance, boredom or simply being cold. Look for companion behaviours such as eye contact or lack thereof in order to get the full story.

By Kim England