How do you fine-tune your body language for the best impression in business?
One tenth of a second. That is all the time you have before other people make a judgement about you,according to some studies. A person then spends the rest of their interaction with you looking to prove that their first impression was right. By better understanding how to come across in those first precious momentsof meeting you can then reinforce that positive impression makes it more likely you will be successful.
Conveying confidence isvital. People are drawn to those who seem decisive and self-assured.Conversely, people tend to be put off by those displaying indecisiveness or submissiveness and regard them as less authoritative and competent.
How do you come across as confident? It does not matter if you are naturally confident as others will think you are simply if you displayconfident body language. The way the human brain is wired has not changed much since the time our hunter-gatherers ancestors lived in very different conditions to ours. What they perceived as confident and attractiveback thenis still perceived as such by us.
Our ancestors lived in a world with many more physical threats and adopted different postures depending on whether they were confident that they could defend themselves. Those who were confident in their own ability to defend themselves in case of attack were relaxed and had an open posture, whereas those who felt they lacked the strength and ability to fend off an enemy attack were on guard, tense and shielded their torso preventively.
Therefore, even in our society where, fortunately, we are rarely in threat of physical attack, a person comes across as confident when they are at ease, relaxed and there is little or no tension in their body. They do not use their arms or objects, such as notepads or bags, to shield their core or torso.On the contrary, a person who is not confident in themselves will often be tense, have their arms folded in front of them or have one arm across their torso, for example holding on to a bag strap or a jacket lapel to the opposite side of their arm: they look as if they were defending themselves.
Confident people also do not play with their clothes, cuffs, hair or jewellery and do not dance around from one foot to the other: they are stable, stand straight and do not slouch because they are not afraid of showing their core.
During the first few minutes, the kind of handshake you give helps you convey confidence and respect at the same time. A handshake is a helpful tool to make a physical and metaphorical connection with people.
A confident handshake is firm, but not too tight. How much strength you can use depends on the size of the hands of the person whose hands you are shaking: are they a man, a woman, a body builder or a pianist?
A handshake should last as long as the greeting: nobody likes to have their hand highjacked! To show respect and consideration, if you are seated, stand up to greet and shake the other person’s hand. As already explained, the torso gives out strong signals to others, so keep your body facing the person to prevent showing fear, nervousness or to signify to others that we do not have the time or interest to meet them.
Finally, and very importantly, make eye contact and smile. This shows that you are acknowledging and validating them and are happy to be meeting them. People like to feel appreciated and accepted: a smile and eye contact are very effective ways of showing to the other person that you are looking forward to do business with them and you are just the sort of person they would enjoy doing business with.
With handshakes, as well as with any other physical contact, it is always useful to remember that not all cultures appreciate the same extent and the same kind of contact as you. Also, some people who have obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety or are on the autistic spectrum may prefer to avoid all physical contact with others. If you think this would be the case with someone you are meeting, it may be advisable to wait for them to initiate the contact. A warm, friendly smile can sometimes work much better if you are unsure.
Now you know how to make your business contacts trust in your abilities: an open, relaxed posture, making eye contact and a confident handshake. Enjoy your confidence and your successes!
Alexis Faber is an expert in body language, reading people and psychology. Thanks to one-to-one sessions and group workshops tailored to each individual’s needs, she helps people present the best version of themselves to achieve their career goals and realize their potential. She offers unique programmes to help executives, salespeople and professional women. Find out more at https://www.in-sight-edge.com/ or feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org