Experts believe that a large part of communication occurs non-verbally. That means that even a smile on your face and the firmness of your handshake when you say, "Pleased to meet you," says more than your words alone.
It is to be remembered that once someone forms an impression, the tendency is to look for evidence confirming the original opinion and to ignore contradictory messages. That means if you have created a positive impression the first time around, people will focus on things that support that favorable impression. If, however, you have created a negative impression, you will have to work twice as hard to overcome that belief from the minds of those who have that negative impression.
Tips on How to Make a Positive Impression Non-Verbally
Remember that everything you do creates an impression:
- your facial expressions
- the "look in your eyes"
- your eye contact (or lack of it)
- your hand gestures
- your posture
- the way you comb your hair
- the clothes (even the shoes) you wear
Making an Entrance
The most important thing to remember in creating a presence is to believe that you belong where you are and have something of value to offer. A characteristic of successful people is that they naturally expect others to respond positively to them.
- When entering someone's office, do not poke your head in the door. Walk in confidently. (Knock first, if appropriate)
- Anticipating a negative reaction sets the stage for an unsuccessful meeting. Therefore, enter with more confidence and have a positive mindset
- A strong stride, a direct approach, an upright posture and a sense of energy are extremely important
What you do with your body can support and enhance the message your words convey–or detract from it.
- Whether talking with one person or an auditorium full of people, maintain eye contact. Otherwise the person or crowd you are addressing will definitely show no interest to what you have to say
- Keep your facial expressions relaxed and friendly. The idea is to keep the listener interested and comfortable with you and what you have to say
- When standing, maintain a balance to your stance. Do not slouch, or lean on things when talking to people. Always maintain an upright posture
- Move purposefully; it shows confidence. Do not walk into a room for instance as though you are about to steal something or as though you do not belong there
- Let your hands fall to your side after using them and avoid crossing your arms, or holding your own hands either in front of you or behind your back
Handshakes are an important physical means of communicating. An immediate, firm, confident and friendly handshake helps establish a positive tone for a meeting and provides a non-verbal opportunity to establish yourself.
- Involve your entire hand in the handshake. Make eye contact; without it a handshake is half as effective
- Women should shake hands with each other just as readily as men. Never allow an important meeting to begin without a handshake. To do otherwise is to non-verbally discount yourself
- Some men think it is impolite to extend their hand to a woman for a handshake. A savvy businesswoman relaxes the uneasiness by extending her hand to a man right away