Ways To Be Your Best Self Through Body Language

by Toria Sheffield

For me, being "attractive" isn't about looks. It's about a person's entire vibe — are they interesting and interested, do they make me laugh, do they seem kind? And a huge part of initially figuring this out comes down to what the other person communicates through body language.

Now I'm not saying you can figure everything else out about another person just by the way they do or don't tilt their head. I think we all know that's the stuff of tween advice column fantasy. All I'm saying is that open and friendly body language makes a huge difference in terms of how comfortable I feel when I'm getting to know someone, which makes figuring out the important stuff, like if we share similar values, or whether they like Wet Hot American Summer, way easier.

And because I'm so aware of how much body language can attract (or repel) me from getting to know others, I try to be conscious of what my own body language communicates as well. As a naturally shy person whose first instinct is to check my phone in the corner to avoid socializing, I've learned body language is key to helping others want to get to know me, whether it's on a date, in a job interview, or at a networking event.

The good news is, open body language can definitely be learned and improved upon — it just takes knowing what to do and getting some practice in. So if you're looking for body language tricks to help you be the most magnetic you possible, here are nine tips that definitely help.

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1. Smile (But Not Right Away)

A video for Business Insider on body language recommended smiling, but not instantaneously. Wait until you've actually had time to register the other person's face, and then smile. This makes it seem like the smile is especially for them — and who doesn't like that?

2. Make Eye Contact, But Don't Overdo It

We're always told that good eye contact is the key to a positive social interaction, but studies have shown this may be a little extreme. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, while a certain amount of eye contact is good, too much can have the opposite effect. I personally have found that looking at people's noses is actually a super helpful tip for dates — it makes you seem engaged, but not intense.

3. Do The "Baby Pivot"

In another Business Insider, author of the book How To Talk To People Leil Lowndes recommended doing what she called the "baby pivot," which essentially entails pivoting towards a person you're being introduced to in the same way you'd pivot with your full attention towards a baby (and if you're not a baby person, just replace that image with a puppy). "Pivoting 100 percent toward the new person shouts, 'I think you are very, very special.'" Lowndes said.

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4. Avoid Fidgeting

This is a personal tip that just comes from a decade of meeting people at networking events and work functions. If a person is constantly moving during a conversation, I get the impression they're either really nervous (which makes me nervous), or that they really want to be somewhere else. Neither makes it easy to get to know them, so if you know you tend to be a fidgeter, try talking from a place of stillness the next time you meet people.

5. Try Not To Cross Your Arms Or Legs

In a piece for Inc, author and management expert Peter Economy said to avoid crossing your arms and legs when in conversation with new people. Crossed arms especially can make you seem like you're closed off or on the defensive, which might deter others from approaching.

6. Mimic

A study featured in the Social Psychology Bulletin said that simply subtly mimicking the person we're talking to can increase your attractiveness. So the next time you're in conversation with someone you're really into, be sure to pay attention to their body language and respond with a similar gesture or posture

7. Act Like They're The Most Interesting Person In The Room

This is another personal tip I've picked up from years of talking to people and observing others in social situations. If you treat the person you're talking to like they're the most interesting person in the room, they'll instantly feel good about your interactions and likely want to keep spending time with you. This means maintaining good eye contact (i.e., not checking your phone or scanning the room for people you know) and really listening to what they have to say.

8. Keep Your Feet Pointed Towards Your Conversation Partner

According to behavioral specialist Vanessa Van Edwards in a piece for The Science of People, keeping your toes pointed towards the object of your interest instantly cues them in to the fact that you're interested and engaged. This tiny little detail can instantly make you seem more open and in the moment.

9. Think Of Everyone As A Friend

This is a tip an old colleague taught me who was a virtual master at navigating new social situations. She said to approach everyone as if they were an old friend. And no, this doesn't mean giving them an intimate hug and delving into your most personal problems. It just means approaching everyone with warmth and enthusiasm. This little mental trick can help you seem and feel way more open than you might normally be in a new situation.

Attracting other people in any meaningful way isn't about the perfect outfit or the best hair day ever — it's often about how you make others feel, and a huge part of that just comes down to body language. And remember — at the end of the day, we can't make everybody like us, so don't stress yourself out by trying!

Images: Pexels (7) Alexis Brown, Anna Vander Stel, Morgan Sessions/Unsplash

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