You know that person you met the other day who made such a good first impression on you?
What was it about them that made you instantly like them?
Well, they could certainly have been really good-looking, flirty, funny, or intelligent.
But there’s also a really good chance that what drew you to them wasn’t even the content of what they said so much as how they communicated non-verbally.
Their body language may have made them seem friendly, approachable, and attractive, even if you didn’t necessarily pick up on these things consciously.
In this article, I’m going to take a look at nine body language habits of people who always make a good first impression. I’ll also use real examples of people I’ve met to illustrate them.
Don’t worry; I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent, but not their moves.
Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to cultivate these in yourself!
1) They smile.
My friend Rhae has got to be the smiliest person I know.
Whether she’s talking to strangers or to people she already knows, she smiles a lot, and it really draws people in.
This makes her seem extremely friendly (she is) and non-threatening (actually, she’s a judo black belt and a kickboxer). The result is that everywhere she goes, people instantly like her.
Her smile isn’t fake, either.
You can tell by the wrinkles around her eyes that it’s authentic. She is just very open to people and very compassionate, so when she smiles, she really shows that she’s ready to have a great experience meeting you.
2) They use open postures.
Jason is a really gregarious friend of mine who loves to meet new people and share a laugh with them.
He’s also a joke maven. I’m sure he can remember well over a thousand jokes and whips them out at the appropriate times.
In fact, he seems to absolutely love meeting new people when he’s out and about.
One of his secrets is the way he approaches people.
He doesn’t cross his arms or keep his hands in his pockets. Instead, he walks up to people with his arms out to his sides a bit. It almost looks like he’s going to hug them, but not quite.
It sounds strange, but it definitely works.
People never find him aggressive but instead immediately open up, and in no time, they’re laughing and telling jokes like the oldest of friends.
I think it’s his really open posture that gives people the impression that he’s incredibly friendly and welcoming.
3) They mirror.
Mirroring is when you start to copy the postures and even gestures of the person you’re talking about.
This is something that almost all people do, but usually, it’s completely unconscious. It just happens when you feel like you’re connecting.
I worked with a woman named Tia once, who was a master of mirroring. No matter whether it was a raised eyebrow, a leg cross, or a lean, she would match people’s body language almost as closely as if they were looking at their own reflection.
After a while, I had to know if she was conscious of what she was doing, but when I asked her, she had no idea what I meant.
It was just a natural action for her and one that helped her build rapport and trust with others perfectly.
4) They give firm handshakes.
I don’t have a specific example for this very common body language, but I can definitely think of times when I’ve been creeped out or put off by handshakes I’ve received.
People who always make a good first impression are masters of the perfect handshake. They’re not too hard or too soft. They don’t grip for too long or too short a time.
They just come in, make a great connection, and come back out.
Now, a bad handshake, on the other hand, can throw you off completely.
If you expect firm but you get limp, it can feel really bizarre. But when you get your hand bones crushed by someone’s overly enthusiastic mitt, it feels even worse.
A handshake that’s too long can be really awkward and give you a strange impression.
But the ones I really dislike are the two-handers.
If you’ve just met a person but you come in with your second hand while you’re shaking, I can guarantee you that nine times out of ten, it’s going to weird them out. It will seem either aggressive or overly intimate, and neither is going to give them a great first impression of you.
5) They make appropriate eye contact.
Chatting with someone for the first time?
What color are the person’s eyes?
If you don’t know, that means you likely haven’t made enough of an effort to focus on maintaining good eye contact with them.
This can be quite hard for some people, I know, but it really helps to make a great impression.
This makes me think of Salma, an old work friend.
She wore glasses and would actually touch them a lot. It wasn’t fidgeting, though.
They seemed like gentle but intentional finger taps and slight adjustments. But the effect was ingenious. By bringing her hand to her glasses, she made your eyes follow it and, therefore, come back to focus on her eyes.
It didn’t hurt that she had huge, mesmerizing greyish-violet eyes, either.
But I mentioned this to her, and she admitted that it was a sort of body language trick she’d heard about. See, she liked getting eye contact, so she was actually helping her conversational partners give her more and thus feel more connected.
It was a great tip, and even though I don’t wear glasses, it made me a lot more conscious of giving people enough eye contact to make them feel paid attention to.
6) They don’t fidget.
Fidgeting can come in many forms.
This can include playing with your hair, scratching, pulling your nose, shifting your weight frequently, putting your hands in and out of your pockets, and a whole lot more.
All this does, though, is distract your interlocutor and give them a not-so-nice impression of you. They’ll normally think you’re nervous or anxious, and that could even make them suspect you’re hiding something or lying.
People who make great first impressions keep themselves relatively still.
They still gesture and shift positions, but only occasionally or when it helps to punctuate a point they’re making.
7) They stand up or sit up straight.
Your mom was right.
Straight posture is good for you in many ways. It improves your digestion and circulation, relieves stress on your neck and lower back that can lead to aches, and it makes you look upright and respectable.
I play soccer with a young guy named Denis, who has some of the worst postures I’ve ever seen.
He’s about six foot four, or would be if he actually stood up straight. Instead, I have a hunch (!) that he measures under six feet because of how stooped he is.
And his posture definitely gives people the wrong idea. He seems meek and mild or like he has low self-confidence when anything could be farther from the truth.
Instead, he’s a gamer and sits for hours hunched over every day.
I’ve started encouraging him to focus on his posture and even work on exercises so that he can portray himself more accurately and make a much better impression on others.
8) They stay the right distance away.
Proximity is really important in making a successful first impression.
Get too close, and you’ll seem overbearing and aggressive.
Stay too far away, and you’ll seem timid and intimidated by your conversational partner.
People who can stay just the right distance away from others have to be sensitive because everyone’s perfect distance is different and also changes depending on their feelings.
So, people who make great first impressions are able to pick up on other people’s feelings and adapt so that they always seem to be in precisely the right place.
9) They look around the group.
The last body language habit I’m going to mention is one that I noticed in my friend Jemma.
Maintaining eye contact is great when you’re talking one-on-one, but what about in a larger group?
Many people make the mistake of only focusing on one person who they feel is dominant, or they only look at whoever is speaking.
But I always see Jemma looking around at everyone, whether she’s talking or listening. This gives a really good impression that she’s interested in everyone and isn’t playing favorites.
It makes her seem fair, friendly, and totally approachable.
Body language for success
These nine body language habits of people who always make a good first impression are now yours to practice.
By cultivating them, each one can bring you one step closer to being that much more successful in your social interactions. You’ll be that much more likable, and your mom will be proud of you, too!
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