While you definitely shouldn't walk through life worrying about your every move and how it's being perceived, it is important to recognize which types of body language can make you seem unlikable. This can come in handy if you're wondering why, despite your best efforts, you can seem to score any new friends. And, it can be super useful when trying to win people over in social situations, like networking events.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to be more likable, such as listening to what people say, asking interested questions, and letting your personality shine through. But that can all be masked if your body language is throwing off mixed messages. "Since body language is mostly projected and read subconsciously, it’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling others," certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. "You could be saying all of the right things, but the other person is picking up on your body language and using that to judge you negatively."
If you think this might be what's dragging down your social life, take some time to reassess how you carry yourself. "Pay attention to signs that your body is closed, even if you’re trying to be friendly with your words," Bennett says. "If you cross your arms, lean away, block your body, and avoid smiling, people are going to perceive you as distant and standoffish." Here are a few more things to watch out for.
1. "Blocking" People
The next time you're out and about, check to see if you naturally "block" your body. "If you get nervous around [others] ... you might subconsciously 'block' them by putting an object between them and you," says Bennett. "This can take the form of holding a drink to your chest, putting a laptop in front of you, or standing behind something. Even if you want to show you’re open to them, your body blocking is breaking rapport and symbolically keeping you separated."
2. Not Making Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the best ways to develop a bond and connect with others. "However, many people regard making eye contact as awkward," Bennett says. "If you can’t make regular, sustained eye contact, you’re going to come across as distracted and disengaged. You don’t want to stare in a creepy way. But, making genuine eye contact will help you appear more likable and open to deeper connections."
3. Looking Frustrated Or Mad — Even When You're Not
Hey, your face is your face, so don't feel bad if people are always calling you out for "looking mad." Do, however, realize how an unintentional frown or grimace can turn people off. "One of the first things people will notice about you is your expression," says psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport. "Smiling or laughing more can easily shift your energy and make you a more inviting person." As can a more neutral face, if that's more your style.
4. Slouching All Day Every Day
Standing up straighter is not only better for your health, but it can make you look friendlier and more open, too. "If you slouch you may exude low self-esteem or a defeated attitude," Rappaport says. "Stand up tall and straight; this helps you exude confidence. People will always be drawn to people with good posture."
5. Crossing Your Arms
You might find it comfortable (and a lot warmer) to stand with your arms crossed. But did you know this stance can seem uninviting? "If you stand or sit with your arms and/or legs crossed, this gives off energy that you are closed off and unapproachable," Rappaport says. It can help to keep this in mind the next time you want to make a connection.
6. Turning Your Back When Standing In A Group
Some people have the bad habit of pushing others out of a group by turning their back to them, and it's incredibly unlikable. As Rappaport tells me, this habit can also appear rude, selfish, and makes people feel unimportant. And that's definitely not the vibe you're going for.
7. Putting Your Hands On Your Hips
This might be another natural stance you take without thinking about it. And yet, it can really throw people through a loop. "If you tend to put your hands on your hips, especially with your legs apart, this position often gives off vibes that you are angry, inflexible, and in some cases, looking for an argument," Rappaport says. When meeting someone new, or mingling at a party, try to keep your body language neutral, with your arms down and relaxed at your sides.
8. Touching Someone Unnecessarily
When making a connection, it's natural to briefly touch the person's arm, or pat their shoulder while laughing. But going overboard with this type of physicality can be unlikable. As Rappport tells me, going out of your way to touch someone is not only a turnoff, but it might even make them feel uncomfortable.
9. Checking Your Phone Nonstop
Nothing's worse than trying to talk to someone who cannot stop looking at their phone. "You may be listening, you may be interested, you may be 100 percent a part of the conversation. [But] the second you check a device of any kind, you send the message that the device is more important," psychologist and The Web radio show host Dr. Joshua Klapow tells Bustle. And that's not cool.
10. Invading Someone's Space
Another way to be push people away? Getting all up in their space. "We have cultural norms for distance and space. They vary from culture to culture. Violate those and you send a message [of not being very likable," Klapow says. So, the next time you're talking in a group, make sure everyone has enough space to move and breathe. You don't want to be on the periphery, but you don't want to be in anyone's face, either.
11. Hugging The Walls
If you have anxiety, it can be difficult to stand assuredly in the middle of the room. But some of us do this, even without feeling nervous. And it's not very likable. "If you are at an event and you 'hug the wall' or position yourself away from people, they may think you are standoffish, antisocial, or uncomfortable," Rappaport says. "Try entering a room and walking up to a group of people. Stand near them say hello when appropriate and introduce yourself." They'll appreciate the introduction, and you'll definitely win some new friends.
When it comes to being more likable, it's not about changing yourself. It's about recognizing which body language habits can appear standoffish, and making an effort to put yourself out there in a friendly, engaging way.
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