7 Common Body Language Mistakes That Send People The Wrong Message.
This article is based on "What Your Body Language Says About You". If you're interested in reading more, check out the link at the bottom of the article.
Whether it be meeting the in-laws for the first time, a business presentation, or a hot date, you want to make a good first impression. You've probably spent hours rehearsing what you'll say and wear but one thing many of us forget to rehearse is our physicality: posture, stance, habits, etc. You wouldn't want your body to betray you in such a crucial moment so read through some of these tips and see what you can do to put your best foot forward.
1. Slouched shoulders
How you come across: tired, unconfident
How to fix this: Squaring your chest towards the speaker in a conversation is a sign of respect and shows that you're prepared to listen. In a group situation, turn your shoulders to face each speaker or to invite others to join the conversation. Be careful when pushing your shoulders back to not become tense; breathe so you're relaxed yet tall. Strong posture increases testosterone and boosts confidence to send the message that you are strong and virile. It's also important to mention that poor posture can also lead to back issues later in life that are harder to correct as time goes on so it's better to nip this one in the bud sooner than later.
2. Standing with legs together
How you come across: indifferent, unbalanced, ready to leave
How to fix this: Standing with your legs shoulder width apart will give you energy and ground you. The stance appears more determined and strong because you can't shift your weight from side to side. You'll be less likely to shuffle, fidget, or wiggle your toes, all of which send the message that you're bored by what's happening.
3. Crossing your legs or curling one leg under the other when sitting
How you come across: meek, tight, not in control
How to fix this: You will look and feel more in control when both legs are touching the ground. It's also easier to shift your shoulders to face the speaker when your legs aren't a tangled mess throwing your balance off. Studies show that unfolding your legs can increase your ability to remember information by 38%.
4. Toes facing inwards or outwards
How you come across: stressed, anxious, distracted
How to fix this: Most of this will be fixed by always facing the person who's talking but be careful of whether or not your feet have followed you. If they point away from the speaker it indicates that someone else has more of your attention or you're eager to leave the conversation and head somewhere else. The opposite is not good either: facing in makes you look shy as though you don't know where to put your feet. An easy way to fix this is to make sure your toes should be facing in the same direction as your knees.
5. Crossed arms
How you come across: defensive, cold, angry
How to fix this: Touching your body or hair can be interpreted as insecurity about your appearance, especially crossing your arms which covers up most of your torso. It's important to appear presentable and confident about looks so if you're busy covering something up or fidgeting with hair/buttons it undercuts your confidents and enforces that you're not in the moment. You want to be welcoming and open to whomever you're speaking to so opt to either put your hands by your side or in your pockets. This will also help you stop biting your nails, clicking your pen, or other nervous habits.
6. Talking with your hands
How you come across: inarticulate, desperate, not grounded
How to fix this: If you're worried that people won't understand you in conversation without using your hands then you need to reevaluate your conversation skills, not your body language. You should be able to convey complex thoughts, even directions, without relying on your hands to do the talking for you. Choose your words wisely and use hands sparingly for emphasis. Until you can master this it may be best to keep your hands in your pockets.
7. Looking at the ground when talking
How you come across: unsure, embarrassed, distracted
How to fix this: Make sure that your chin is at a 90* angle with your neck and your gaze will naturally fall to whatever is directly in front of you, forcing you to keep eye contact with your surroundings. Part of effective active listening is making the speaker feel heard or understood which can't be achieved if you're looking at the floor or anxiously looking away. If you need to look away at your phone or the door, politely ask or comment about it first so that the speaker knows that you're still invested in the conversation.
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Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.