People who instantly command attention and respect never make these 7 body language mistakes

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It’s no secret that communication is a mix of what you say, how you say it, and the gestures you use to express yourself, right? 

The funny thing is: even though your body language accounts for over 50% of your communication and says a lot about you, most people work on what they’re going to say and how they’ll say it but forget all about what their body language is saying. 

Pro-communicators recognize that what they’re saying with their facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language is as important as the words they’re using. And when it comes to body language, sometimes what you don’t do is more important than what you do. 

If you’re keen to improve your communication by making the most of your body language, stick around because today, we’re talking about 7 body language mistakes that people who command attention and respect instantly, never make. 

Which of these do you struggle with most? 

Let’s get started.

1) Having a weak handshake

Have you ever shook hands with someone with a weak handshake? It feels cold, moist, and limp. Needless to say, it doesn’t scream confidence or command any respect.  

My Dad has always been big on the importance of a firm handshake. I remember once when my brother and I weren’t even 10 years old, we were about to meet some of my Dad’s work associates and he taught us how to shake hands properly.

At the time, I thought he was crazy but now I get it. 

A weak handshake leaves the other person questioning your character and their decision to associate with you. A firm handshake, on the other hand, commands attention and respect creating a favorable impression, confirmed by recent research. 

People who instantly command attention and respect never make the mistake of greeting someone with a weak handshake. 

2) Giving too much or too little eye contact

Eye contact is incredibly powerful. Get it right, and you’ve got everyone’s respect and attention just like that. And that’s not just my opinion. 

The team at Indeed, the world’s number 1 job site, highlights the significance of non-verbal cues, noting, “Holding eye contact can be a powerful form of respect. Eye contact can capture your audience’s attention and keep them engaged with your message.

The problem is: getting the balance right with eye contact can be tricky. Too much and you end up giving off creepy vibes. But too little and it signals that you’re shy, lacking confidence, or you’re just blatantly trying to avoid someone. 

If you’re aiming to really grab respect and attention, nailing your eye contact is key. The folks who’ve got this down never miss the mark when it comes to eye contact.

3) Slouching and bad posture

I remember back at school, when someone wasn’t interested in what was happening in class they’d let the teacher know by slouching down in their chair. It was the universal symbol for “I’m bored.”

At school is one thing but when I see colleagues and managers slouching during big meetings, I can hardly believe my eyes. 

As noted by Corey Halaychik in his book Lessons in Library Leadership  “A person’s posture and gestures can communicate quite a bit about how they feel to a certain situation (..) Slouching in a chair can indicate boredom.”

Natural leaders never make the mistake of slouching or seeming too laid-back because they know it looks bad. They just never slip up like that. One of the simple things you can do to be more like them is sit up straight and keep your posture relaxed but proper. 

4) Crossing their arms over their chest

Have you ever heard that crossing your arms is a sign you’re not open to what others are saying? It’s seen as a sign you’re not engaged and maybe a bit defensive and uncomfortable.

Believe it or not: experts find there are many innocent reasons people cross their arms that have nothing to do with being defensive or disengaged.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that generally people perceive folded arms to be negative. And in today’s world perception is reality.

The most confident and well-respected individuals don’t make the mistake of crossing their arms because they know others will assume it means they’re closed off, even if it’s not true.

Instead, they lead with open body language such as unfolded arms and keeping their palms up. 

One of the simplest ways to improve your non-verbal communication to come across better is to unfold your arms and legs, showing that you’re completely open in all of your communication. This helps you to gain respect and get the attention of others.   

5) Fidgeting

I had an old colleague, who was constantly fidgeting during meetings. Whenever I noticed his fidgeting I always felt as though he was bored and wasn’t paying attention. 

According to research, my assumptions could be right. One study suggests that fidgeting is a sign of a wandering mind. It’s like a physical sign that someone isn’t paying attention. 

You’ll never see folks who have a knack for grabbing attention and commanding respect, fidgeting. They want all the attention to be on what they’re saying and they know fidgeting creates the wrong impression and distracts their audience from their message. 

One of the worst habits you can have is to constantly fidget especially when others are around. You come across as rude, disengaged, and not at all interested. It’s time to kick this bad habit.

6) Having a resting b*tch face 

You’ve probably heard of resting b*tch face (RBF), right? 

It’s used to describe someone whose neutral expression looks “vaguely annoyed, maybe a little judgy, perhaps slightly bored.” as noted by Washington Post writer Caitlin Gibson. Think Kanye West, Victoria Beckham, and Kirsten Stewart. 

Even though it’s not intentional, scowling like this gives off the wrong impression. It’s like your face is trying to tell the world you wish you were somewhere else, even though it’s totally not true. 

Influential individuals who instantly grab attention are aware of all aspects of their communication, even how they come across when they’re just sitting and observing. Even if they have a natural RBF, they’ve done the work to soften it to a less offensive expression.

Do you have a resting b*tch face? Maybe you should ask your friends and family. And if it turns out that you do, softening it up will stand to you if you want to become more engaging.  

7) Getting too close for comfort

Picture this: you’re having a conversation with someone but it feels like they’re trying to invade your personal space. Every time you take a subtle step back, it’s like they inch closer, leaning in and taking a small step forward. 

We’ve all been there and it’s awkward, right? 

I had a teacher who didn’t seem to understand the concept of personal space. Whenever she talked to me, she’d be close enough that I could feel her breath on my face. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, and definitely had an impact on my level of respect for her. 

People who naturally draw respect and attention always keep a comfortable distance. They understand that crossing the line into someone’s personal space can make engaging difficult, leaving the other person feeling on edge.

If you want to be someone that others look up to then it’s crucial to respect their comfort zone. Giving them the freedom to engage and pay attention without feeling crowded or on edge can make all the difference.

The bottom line

There’s no doubt that body language plays a crucial role in how you come across to others. 

Focusing on your body language will not only set you apart from the rest to help you gain respect and attention, it’ll also help you to be an all-around better communicator. 

A great first step is to cut out the common mistakes we’ve talked about today, which one are you focusing on first? 

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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