As Ursula the sea witch famously said, “Don’t underestimate the importance of body language.“
Some tricks, like remembering to smile, are easy to implement in your everyday life.
However, other techniques, while relatively common sense, are somewhat trickier to tackle.
Still, they can make a huge difference.
Here are eight body-language hacks that can be tricky to master but can pay off forever once you do:
1. Mirror the person you’re speaking to.
- geir tønnessen/Flickr
Mirroring – or aligning your body to match the position of whoever you’re speaking to – can be a tough skill to master. But doing it shows admiration and agreement, says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.
It can be hard to do this subtly, without looking like you’re mimicking or mocking someone, but this is definitely a good trick to employ if you’re really trying to make a good impression.
2. Walk with purpose and energy.
- Eamonn M. McCormack / Stringer / Getty Images
Not everyone walks with confidence. Some of us shuffle through life with a slumping, awkward gait.
And it can be tough to change the way we walk. But if you take some steps to improve it, you can help to ensure that people don’t make snap judgments about your confidence, attractiveness, and trustworthiness, according to Scientific American.
3. Maintain good eye contact.
- Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
It’s all in the eyes.
People with a shaky gaze often come across as anxious, distracted, or dishonest. And it can be tough to master the skill of maintaining eye contact, since it’s a very uncomfortable and unnatural thing for some people. But it’s a practice that can help you immensely in life.
Luckily, there are some simple techniques for maintaining better eye contact if you feel your stare isn’t cutting it.
In “How To Talk To Anyone,” author and communication expert Leil Lowndes advises that you should “pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky, warm taffy.”
Once you master this trick, you’ll immediately see an improvement in your face-to-face communications with others.
4. Keep your hands visible.
- Nate Steiner/Flickr
It’s hard to know what to do with your hands sometimes, especially if you’re a somewhat nervous person.
As a result, you might take to compulsively jamming them into your pockets or crossing your arms. Those are understandable moves, but they also project a somewhat negative image.
As Business Insider previously reported, it’s important to keep your hands visible, lest you look like you’re hiding something.
5. Don’t fidget, but don’t be too stiff.
- Christian Scheja/Flickr
Some people are just a bit twitchy – always drumming their fingers, tapping their feet, and twirling their hair. Some people are almost unnaturally still. The problem is, others may mistake that for dishonesty or fear.
That might be common knowledge, but Dr. Lillian Glass, a behavioral analyst and body language expert who has worked with the FBI on unmasking signals of deception, previously told Business Insider that you should also watch out for people who are not moving at all.
“This may be a sign of the primitive neurological ‘fight,’ rather than the ‘flight,’ response, as the body positions and readies itself for possible confrontation,” Glass said. “When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in subtle, relaxed, and, for the most part, unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid, catatonic stance devoid of movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off.”
If you can strike a balance between swaying and stiffness, you’ll be able to make a better impression with others.
6. Sit up straight.
- William Wootton/Flickr
Your parents were right to constantly bark at you to adjust your terrible posture when you were a moody teen.
“If you lounge back in your chair, recruiters interpret it as a sign of your disinterest in the open position or that you’re not taking the interview seriously, neither of which will help you land the job,” Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, previously told Business Insider. “In addition, slumping over in the chair can indicate a lack of confidence.”
Instead, she suggests sitting as if there was a string tied from the top of your head to the ceiling. Sitting up straight is seen as a sign of intelligence, confidence, and credibility, she explains.
Anyone with bad posture can tell you that correcting your slouch is not always easy. But it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
7. Work on your handshake.
No one wants to receive a “dead fish” handshake. Writing on LinkedIn, InfoShore cofounder Ashish Arora says that “a weak handshake equals a weak person” in most peoples’ minds.
So how do you give a great handshake?
Arora breaks it down for us: “When squeezing your hand you want the grip to be tight enough to feel the bones of the other person’s hand lightly pressing into your skin and then keeping the same amount of pressure while you make two to three moderately strong shakes in the vertical plain. Maintain eye contact and a smile throughout.”
8. Slow down.
When you’re nervous, it can be easy to speed everything up – your speech, your movements.
However, as leadership expert Peter Economy writes in Inc., it’s far better to try to slow things down: “When we have precision in our movements, it’s more powerful than simply doing something for the sake of the action. Our own brains know it, and the brains of everyone else know it too.”
So take a deep breath, slow down, and be more deliberate about your movements at your next meeting. You’ll look far more confident and competent.