We’ve all heard the expression, “First impressions count”.
When attending a job interview, meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time, or starting a new class, most people want to make a good first impression. I.e., they want to be liked.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. There’s also nothing wrong with playing the system to get what you want.
Getting someone to like you isn’t always a 50/50 chance. When you know the tricks, it’s a science!
When you meet someone new, the first thing they do (usually subconsciously) is size up whether you’re going to be a threat to them. It’s instinctive, really.
They quickly try to establish whether you’re someone to be liked and trusted – or the total opposite. And what’s the key thing that gives you away?
Your body language.
Countless researchers have studied our body language over the years and the impact it has on how much people like us.
If you want to make a good first impression with anyone you meet, try these 8 body language tricks that (backed by science) lead to instant likability!
1) Maintain eye contact when you or they speak
Something abundantly clear to anyone who studies psychology (or just meets a lot of people) is that we communicate from our eyes more than we think.
Eye contact is a skill that conveys interest, emotion, empathy, concern, and so many other hidden messages.
One of the primary reasons experts encourage you to maintain eye contact with someone when speaking or being spoken to is to convey interest.
Think about if you were telling someone a story and they kept looking away – or worse – didn’t look at you once! You’d probably think they weren’t interested or aren’t listening.
When you don’t feel listened to, it doesn’t feel good. It can make you feel rejected and insecure.
And if you want someone new to like you, the last thing you want to do is make them feel bad about themselves around you!
So keep eye contact, don’t stare, and blink when you need to – and people are much more likely to enjoy your company for it.
2) Smile with your teeth and eyes
As Connie Stevens once said, “Nothing you wear is more important than your smile”.
Dentists frequently cite the importance of owning and finding happiness in your smile – and for good reason.
Research suggests that smiling conveys all kinds of positive emotions – from happiness and contentment to approval. It’s also very contagious.
A study found that our brains automatically notice, interpret, and mimic other people’s emotions. So, when you smile, someone else feels almost instinctively inclined to smile back.
3) Nod along while someone talks
Like we said earlier, everyone likes to be liked. Just like you want to be liked by the person you’re speaking to, they probably want to feel liked by you, too!
A great way to make someone feel valued is to show that you’re listening tentatively to what they’re saying.
Maintaining eye contact is great for this, but too much eye contact without any nodding is classed as staring. Which can come across as hostile, rude, and judgemental – which is the last thing you need if you want to be liked!
A great way to make your eye contact as unthreatening as possible is to nod along when someone is talking.
It’ll show that you’re interested, are listening to what they’re saying, and that you’re an easy person to speak with.
4) Face someone with your body and feet
Imagine you’re entering a group of people that you hardly know. You walk up to them, squeeze into a gap, and say hello.
Imagine most people look at you, say hello, and look away again.
How would that make you feel? Immediately welcomed into the group and conversation? Probably not, I’d suspect.
But now imagine someone in the group saw you, smiled at you, said hello, and turned their body towards you. You’d instantly feel more included and welcomed, am I right?
Well, that’s exactly how you want to make other people feel. If they walk over to you, turn your body and feet slightly toward them.
It’ll welcome them in properly and make them feel like they can stick around to talk to you. It’ll also make them like you a lot more than if you didn’t move to include them!
5) Stand or sit with your arms uncrossed
Another way to trick people into liking you more is to look like you’re a confident, carefree kind of person. And a great way to do this is to relax your arms and keep them uncrossed.
As experts have found, people who keep their arms crossed while standing or talking come across as distant, insecure, anxious, or even defensive.
All these things can make you look difficult to talk to and be around. So, it’s only natural that people may like you less for it.
So keep those arms uncrossed and float them by your sides, hold them palms together in front of you, or rest them on your lap instead.
6) Subtly mimic their gestures
Mirroring is another body language trick many people use – usually subconsciously – to be more likable.
But if this trait doesn’t come automatically to you, you can bet your bottom dollar that doing it subtly and consciously will work, too!
When you mirror someone’s gestures, posture, and facial expressions, it can give off signals that you’re connected to the person and that you have empathy for them – as studies have found.
Both these things can make the person you’re mirroring instantly like you.
Just remember to not be too obvious with your mirroring that it comes across like you’re mocking them!
Keep it subtle, like if they cross their legs, cross yours, too. Or if they’re speaking in a slow tone, speak in a similar calm voice.
7) Adopt a relaxed posture
People can tell a lot about you by your posture. When you’re sitting straight and upright, you look motivated, focused, and like you’re paying attention to everything around you.
When you stand up tall, you look slimmer, more attractive, and more confident.
When you have a relaxed posture, you look welcoming and at ease – making others feel more at ease around you, too.
So relax your shoulders, stand tall (but not too upright), and keep your head level if you want to appear more likable.
8) Keep relatively still and don’t fidget
Staying relatively still when speaking to someone new is another way to make them like you. When you aren’t moving about all the time, it makes you look comfortable, confident, and at ease.
And when you look more confident, people feel safer around you (as studies have found), so they’re more likely to like you.
So don’t fiddle with the straps on your bag or fidget with your hands when meeting someone new. Or constantly move about – shuffling from one foot to another.
It can make you look anxious and like you want to get away from the person you’re speaking to. Which (understandably) isn’t going to make them like you more!
Of course, don’t make yourself look or feel uncomfortable. Staying rigid and not moving a muscle isn’t going to make you look very inviting to others!
Just keep yourself relaxed and relatively calm – avoiding fidgeting as much as you can.
Don’t leave likability up to chance. When meeting new people, you have about 7 seconds to make a first impression – according to research.
That’s not a lot of time at all!
But thankfully, more research suggests that it takes around eight positive encounters to change a person’s negative opinion of you.
So, if someone doesn’t instantly like the look of you, it’s usually just their instincts kicking in and making a snap judgment.
And by doing the eight body language tricks on this list, you can turn their views around and make them like you in no time at all!