Until we get to know someone, our brain relies on snap judgements to try to categorize the person, predict what they will do, and anticipate how we should react. You may have heard that you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, but the truth is, your brain has made up its mind (so to speak) about a person within milliseconds of meeting them.
According to research done by a Princeton University psychologist, it’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. Your brain decides from the information it has—in other words, how you look—whether you are trustworthy, threatening, competent, likeable and many other traits.
One way we can “hack” this split-second judgement is to be aware of our body language, especially in important situations. Whether you’re applying for a job, asking for a raise, or meeting with a new client, tweaking or just being mindful of our body language can influence the other person’s perception of us and the outcome of the situation.
15 Body language blunders to watch out for:
- Leaning back too much—you come off lazy or arrogant.
- Leaning forward—can seem aggressive. Aim for a neutral posture.
- Breaking eye contact too soon—can make you seem untrustworthy or overly nervous. Hold eye contact a hair longer, especially during a handshake.
- Nodding too much—can make you look like a bobble head doll! Even if you agree with what’s being said, nod once and then try to remain still.
- Chopping or pointing with your hands—feels aggressive.