8 body language hacks that make you instantly seem friendly and likable

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It’s not just what we say with our words that convey a message, our body language also speaks volumes.

Giving off the right vibe is often down to lots of subtle cues you send out — from the way you stand to the way you look at someone.

Being more mindful of these signals will allow you to tap into some simple hacks that make you instantly seem more friendly.

Want to be more likable?

Here’s how to do it with the power of body language…

1) Drop your guard

Let’s start with some of the basics.

Most of us aren’t even conscious of the way we carry ourselves.

But our stance is a subtle reflection of our confidence and comfort levels in any given situation.

When you carry tension in the body, it can show through in rigid and tense-looking posture.

Avoid crossing your arms or legs, as this can come across as defensive. Instead, keep your body open and stand up straight with your head up and your shoulders gently pressing back.

If you’re going into a tense environment, like a job interview, try shaking your body out to ease any built-up tension beforehand, and doing some calming breathing exercises.

This not only de-stresses you, but it’s a good way to get into your body and become more mindful.

Be sure to face the person you are speaking to, as turning away, even slightly, can seem dismissive.

Be careful to not invade their body space as that will come across as creepy. But leaning ever so slightly towards the other person can make you seem more friendly, particularly in romantic settings like dates.

2) Show those pearly whites

Aka, smile!

It’s one of our long-established social cues, that is a universal sign of friendliness and approachability.

That’s why it instantly makes you more likable and helps to put others at ease.

But there’s a catch.

If it’s not a genuine smile it can have the opposite effect. Rather than make you more likable, you may come across as phony.

Research says that most of us can tell a forced smile.

According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, it’s actually the eyes, not the mouth that give it away:

“You use more face muscles when you have a genuine smile and you see that in the lines round the eyes of the subject which crinkle up more.”

3) Look them straight in the eye

Have you ever noticed that eye contact can feel excruciating at times?

For example, when you’re feeling embarrassed or unsure of yourself it’s something we prefer to avoid.

It’s almost like we’re trying to guard and protect ourselves. That’s because eye contact is powerful, but that’s also why it’s so effective.

As highlighted by Better Help:

“It can enhance empathy, trust, and social connection, while lack of eye contact can lead to discomfort, distrust, and disconnection. Eye contact is important in communication for conveying emotions and building rapport.”

Not only does maintaining a steady gaze show confidence, but it also conveys sincerity (showing you have nothing to hide).

Holding good eye contact when someone else is speaking lets them know we’re engaged in what they have to say.

Meanwhile, when meeting someone new, brief eye contact followed by a quick smile highlights your warmth and will win you favor.

4) Be a copycat

Chances are this will happen naturally. But now you know how effective it is, you can also do it consciously too.

We’re talking about mirroring.

It’s where one person subtly mimics the gestures, speech patterns, mannerisms, and general behavior of another.

As soon as you become aware of it, you really start to notice it in action.

For example, when your friend tilts their head and rests their chin on their fist, and a few moments later you realize you’ve done the exact same.

Research has named this the “chameleon effect”, and the good news is it’s been shown to positively influence the way we’re perceived.

As pointed out by Psychology Today, it’s associated with higher levels of empathy.

“Empathetic people tend to not only pick up on others’ feelings more easily than less empathetic people, but they also are more likely to mimic other people more often. Their higher attunement to others’ emotions is likely the cause of their increased level of mirroring others.”

This copycat habit we unconsciously fall into is what helps create a sense of connection and rapport.

5) Do some detective work

In many ways, this goes hand in hand with the previous hack. Because it relies on your skills in staying alert to the other person’s signals and body language.

When you do, you can respond more appropriately.

If they seem a bit apprehensive or closed off, be sure to honor their boundaries and keep your distance.

If they are quite subdued, match that energy level. If they are comfortable being tactile, you can be responsive to it.

This is a form of emotional intelligence and it’s really significant in improving social skills.

What seems like an intuitive read on others is often just an attention to detail and sensitivity when it comes to the signs people give away.

So be sure to pay attention to their posture, gestures, and facial expressions to better understand them.

6) Be animated

The more enthusiastic you seem, the more friendly too.

Perhaps that’s why extroverts in some circumstances can be more likable, because they tend to be more outgoing.

Being overly subdued can unintentionally come across as aloof or disinterested.

Gesturing can help to make you seem lively and invested.

As well as using plenty of facial expressions, bring your hands into the conversation too.

Use natural, open-handed gestures to appear more friendly and approachable.

Italians are masters at letting their hands do the talking as discussed in the New York Times.

“Isabella Poggi, a professor of psychology at Roma Tre University and an expert on gestures, has identified around 250 gestures that Italians use in everyday conversation. “There are gestures expressing a threat or a wish or desperation or shame or pride,” she said. The only thing differentiating them from sign language is that they are used individually and lack a full syntax, Ms. Poggi added.”

This gives a glimpse into the world of possibilities when it comes to our gestures. You can use them to emphasize your points and appear more engaging as you talk.

7) Nod in agreement

This falls under the category of so-called affirming non-verbal cues.

They are really important in letting people know that we’re interested and listening.

We all like some encouragement when we speak.

Gentle nods of the head, accompanied by appropriate facial expressions and a few well-placed umms and ahs of agreement make a big difference.

If you just stand there with a dead-pan look on your face, not moving, the other person is going to get the impression you find them pretty boring.

8) Be attentive

Listen with your body not just your ears.

What do I mean by that?

  • Don’t fidget
  • Don’t look around the room whilst they’re talking
  • Don’t be doing something else with your hands
  • Don’t check your phone
  • Don’t glance over at something or someone else in the room

Distractions are very easy to get sucked in by, but they can be costly.

If you want to be more likable, the funny thing is that it’s less about you and more about the other person.

It comes down to how much of your attention you focus on them. Getting better at active listening can also help you to achieve this.

Practice makes perfect

Being yourself is a really important part of the puzzle that you can’t neglect.

If you try and push any of these hacks, it may come across as a bit unnatural.

Be mindful of what your body is saying, but never force it.

Remember to practice these techniques regularly to make them a comfortable part of your communication style.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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