14 body language tricks to help you make a great first impression

On dates, in meetings, at job interviews — we meet new people almost every day in a variety of situations. We often don't have much time to get to know each other, so the first impression is incredibly important. Whether or not we like someone is a decision that actually takes place in our subconscious mind within the first few seconds of meeting. Gestures, facial expressions and posture — together known as "body language" — play a vital role in creating a good first impression. With these simple behavioral tricks you'll be sure to make your next first impression a good and lasting one ...


Standing posture

If you look around, you'll notice that many people don't pay attention to their posture. They stand there, limp and slightly hunched over, closed off from the world. This type of body language sends out the message that a person lacks confidence and it's also not very good for your back. Here are some tips for maintaining a more confident posture:

1. Straighten up and try to make yourself as tall as possible (as though you were trying to look over something blocking your view).

2. Keep a solid stance (legs about hip-width apart).

3. Hold this position but make sure to relax your shoulders and neck.

The goal is to achieve a confident yet relaxed posture. Make sure not to "puff up" by sticking out your chest. Instead, simply pull your shoulders back slightly for the same effect and you'll appear more determined and full of energy.

Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

Sitting posture

Many people tend to slump when sitting down or they bend over until they look like a human question mark. Remember all those times you were told to "sit up straight" when you were a kid? Well the idea is actually right, but that doesn't mean it has to be uncomfortable:

4. Straighten your back without bending over backwards.

5. Keep your feet about hip-width apart.

6. Maintain a taut upper body (your stomach and back muscles should always be slightly tight).

This sitting position will make you appear more self-confident and dynamic — and it's great for your back too!

Flickr/WOCinTech Chat

Behavioral tricks

Whether you're sitting or standing there are certain behaviors that can have a positive effect on your appearance:

7. Maintain an open posture (arms folded across the chest looks closed-off and unfriendly).

8. Mirror the gestures of the person you're with (e.g. crossed legs, smile).

The second point here is based on a simple fact: we tend to like people who are similar to us. In this case it's not about "monkey see, monkey do" so be sure to keep it natural and subtle. 

Entering a room

The first few seconds of our first meeting with anyone usually determines our overall impression of that person. This starts as soon as someone enters the room. To make sure you leave the best impression possible, try using these helpful tips:

9. Put on a natural smile (the easiest way is to think about something that makes you happy).

10. Greet everyone in the room while looking them in the eye (a friendly nod is often enough, but be sure not to look over their heads).

11. When shaking hands, be sure not to squeeze too hard or not enough (your grip should be about the same as when you pick up a medium-sized bag).

12. Take your time (you'll appear calmer and more in control).

Tip: When entering a large gathering you can simply wave and smile to most of the people, especially the ones you don't already know. You might have to summon up a bit of courage, but your openness will leave everyone with a good impression and make future contact much more comfortable.

Flickr/PROJustin Taylor

Facial expression

Did you know that the human face has 26 muscles? Taking this into account, it's no wonder that facial expressions have such an impact on how we judge other people. These two tips will help you to use facial expressions to achieve maximum positive effect:

13. Make a habit of smiling even when you're alone (as though you're looking at something pleasant).

14. Always look people in the eye (with a friendly smile — and don't stare).

An assertive and friendly expression can open almost any door, and you'll notice an improvement in your mood when you smile more often.


As simple as these tips sound in theory, they can actually take some getting used to when applied in real life situations. But as with everything else, practice makes perfect. And once you get comfortable using them, you'll start to notice that your first impression will have a very lasting effect.




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