This one might not seem like that big a deal, but a study featured in the Social Psychology Bulletin found that we tend to like people who mimic, and that subtle mimicry indicates attraction. So try leaning in if your conversation partner is leaning in, or sit with your legs crossed at a bar stool if they're doing the same.
2. Smile With Your Eyes
According to psychologist Adrian Furnham in a piece for Psychology Today, smiling has the power to instantly put others at ease. However, he noted that studies show that "fake" smiles can be easily distinguished from genuine smiles and do not have the same positive effect. He said to make a smile seem real, make sure it engages your eyes.
3. Watch Your Body Language
In a piece for The Huffington Post, behavioral author Vanessa Van Edwards stressed the importance of open body language that sends the message that you're harmless, interested, and approachable. She said to keep your feet pointed towards the other person, keep your arms and legs uncrossed if possible, and keep your head tilted — all are subconscious signs of attraction.
4. Be Engaged
This one is a personal tip. Nothing makes a person feel less good about a conversation partner than when that partner is checking their phone or scanning the room for someone else they'd rather be talking to. Try to make it your policy to act like the person you're talking with is the most fascinating person. I promise they'll leave the conversation feeling great about the way it went, and more importantly, great about you.
6. Act Confident
In a piece for Psychology Today, Harvard psychologist Craig Malkin said that both men and women generally prefer people who appear confident over those who seem shy and reserved, because confident behavior instantly creates a stronger sense of trust. So shake people's hands, smile easily, and try to seem like you're comfortable. And if you're shy, fake it 'til you make it!
5. Make Eye Contact
This leap frog off that last point. Eye contact shows you're both confident and engaged, whereas looking at the floor or scanning the room instantly indicates a lack of interest, even if that's not your intention. And if eye contact makes you uncomfortable, try an old tip I learned as a teenager: look at the other person's nose instead of their eyes. It creates the illusion of solid eye contact while somehow feeling less intimate.
7. Know Your Audience
In a piece for Psychology Today, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research Emma M. Seppala noted the importance of "knowing your audience" when you're in conversation. This doesn't mean you need to change yourself completely depending on who you're talking to, but rather pick up on small social cues that can help you cater to the person. For example, you'll probably approach your friend's parents differently than you might a subordinate at work, or a potential date. Try to view the conversation from their perspective.
8. Use Names
Seppala also noted that studies show that people love the sound of their own name. So take special care to remember a person's name as soon as you're introduced, and make sure to use it when exiting the conversation. It will help make it seem like you have that special je ne sais quoi.
9. Ditch The Phone
This is a personal tip that I promise will go a very long way in terms of seeming like your best self. There's just something inherently off-putting about someone who checks their phone constantly while you're in the middle of a conversation. By keeping your phone in a purse or a pocket, you're going the extra mile to show you're present and engaged.
I always say that there's no special formula to a good conversation, and your best bet is to simply converse with others the way you like people to converse with you. Seem interested, don't interrupt, and keep your body language friendly and open. And most importantly of all, relax!