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10 powerful tips for avoiding negative body language

10 powerful tips for avoiding negative body language

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Last updated:
May 23, 2017
5 min read
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Article Summary

This article was originally written and published by Speak First

Bad body language can ruin your impact in a wide range of situations.

1. Don’t fidget!

Shifting your position when seated tells people immediately that you’re uncomfortable. Plant your feet flat on the ground, stop moving and sit tight.

2. Keep your head up

Take care with your head position. When you tilt your head down and lower your eyes you appear submissive. Holding your head high and ‘standing tall’ communicates confidence.

3. Face the other person

If you turn your body away – with your shoulder facing the other person rather than the front of you body – you come across as awkward. Face them almost square on and avoid having your arms across your body. If you’re exactly square on to them it can come across as confrontational.

4. Don’t touch yourself!

When you rub or scratch your body you’re virtually screaming ‘I’m nervous’. These are self-comforting gestures controlled by your unconscious mind designed to pacify you when you’re stressed. In particular, avoid touching your face or rubbing your neck.

5. Hold strong eye contact

How long you look at someone is an indicator of status – dominant individuals tend to make longer and stronger eye contact. If you look away too soon you’ll be perceived as weak – but at the same time, you don’t want to stare people down.

6. Stand still

Shuffling from one foot to another – especially when giving presentations or speaking in public – shows you’re unsettled. Standing still shows you’re ‘grounded’ and comfortable.

7. Get your handshake right

Many people have strong opinions on handshakes. Get yours wrong and you’ll have problems. If it’s weak – a dead fish – others will think you’re weak. If there’s too much pressure – you’re a crusher – others will think you’re compensating for a sense on inferiority.

8. Leave your hair alone

Touching and fussing with your hair, or running your fingers through it like a brush, conveys insecurity. This is particularly an issue for people with longer hair, as you’re probably more aware of it and more prone to play with it than a person with it cut much shorter.

9. Don’t tug at your collar or cuffs

Many people– including King Charles of the United Kingdom – betray their nerves by tugging at their cuffs or collar, or by incessantly adjusting their tie. Check these areas just once, then leave them alone.

10. Avoid jingling coins or keys in your pocket

Putting your hands in your pockets when you have coins or keys there can lead you to jingling or jangling them, which can be distracting and once again suggests that you’re uncomfortable.

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