Body language refers to the way our body communicates our emotions. Even without saying a word, our expressions and mannerisms can relay what we’re thinking or feeling, whether consciously or not. Positive nonverbal cues can be useful for indicating our friendliness to a stranger, but if we aren’t careful, these cues may also cause others to question our sincerity. For example, if you’re smiling but your eyes have a blank look, the person you’re talking to will sense your lack of interest and may end the conversation. 

Body language affects our relationship-building process so it’s important to always be mindful about what our facial expressions, gestures, and poses communicate to others. Maintaining positive body language can help us form and strengthen connections. Moreover, body language is used alongside verbal communication to support our genuine intentions. So, if you want to display a more honest approach in your interactions with other people, you can follow the guide below. 

Start with a Genuine Smile

Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or conversing with the people around you, one of the best ways to communicate friendliness is through smiling. When you smile, you demonstrate that you’re happy to be talking to the person in front of you and will listen to what they may have to say. As such, smiling can help you maintain a conversation with a new acquaintance or even collaborate more effectively with your colleagues. 

However, lifting the corners of your lips isn’t enough. A genuine and sincere smile should reach your eyes, causing them to narrow and crinkle at the corners as you smile. Moreover, if you’re wearing a face-covering like an antimicrobial face mask that goes around the neck, smiling with your eyes will help you retain a friendly aura even when people can’t see the smile on your lips. 

Give a Firm Handshake

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, it’s good practice to extend your hand and offer to shake theirs. A firm handshake sets the tone for your encounter and communicates a few basic but important behaviors, such as respect for the other person. In addition, you show a confident and social attitude and would make for a worthy conversation partner. 

In giving a firm handshake, be careful that your grip isn’t too tight, as a too-strong hold is not only unpleasant but also relays intimidation. In contrast, a weak handshake can make you seem insecure or shy, so the other person may feel that you’re not interested in talking with them. 

The ideal handshake features a comfortable but solid grip. You can also mimic the grip pressure the other person is applying onto your hand. Pump your clasped hands once or twice and then let go to avoid making the other individual uncomfortable. 

Look Them in the Eye

To help you communicate positive body language while you’re talking to someone, you can look them in the eye during your conversation. Maintaining good eye contact while the other person talks tells them you’re listening attentively and being open and honest with them. 

Additionally, good eye contact will help you read their facial expressions so you can act accordingly. For example, if the other person bites their lip, this may indicate that they’re worried about what you’ve just told them. Based on this observation, you can then steer the discussion towards topics that may placate them. 

Do note that prolonged eye contact can be misconstrued as staring, which is considered  aggressive and rude. This can make the other person uncomfortable, especially if you’re meeting them for the first time. To help you avoid this problem, maintain eye contact for four to five seconds before slowly looking to the side to show that you’re thinking about what to say. Avoid looking downwards because this exhibits a lack of confidence on your part or make you seem unfriendly. 

Nod Your Head Accordingly

If you agree with what your conversation partner is saying, aside from giving verbal agreement, you also shouldn’t forget to nod your head. This action fortifies your attentiveness towards the other person. In addition, nodding your head at appropriate times while smiling and maintaining eye contact can encourage your conversation partner to keep talking. 

One quick bob of the head should suffice to indicate your agreement, but if you nod too much or too fast, it sends a completely different message. Rapid head-nodding accompanied by a wandering gaze usually implies that you want the other person to hurry up and finish what they’re saying. Doing so may be seen as disrespectful and suggests that you may not care about what they’re adding to the discussion.

Maintain an Open Posture

Having an open posture when you’re interacting with someone shows that you’re ready to listen and willing to accept their input and ideas. This is important to show your friendliness and acceptance of the other person as a conversation partner. 

You can display an open posture by sitting upright and keeping your arms on your sides. Set both feet on the floor instead of crossing them. When you slouch or cross your limbs, you close yourself off from the other person, which may seem dismissive. In addition, it’s important to have a relaxed stance, so you don’t seem uptight and intimidating, which can discourage your conversation partner from participating in the dialogue. 

Lean in During Conversations

Aside from being open and receptive, you also want to communicate that you’re comfortable with the people around you. You can do so by leaning in as you converse with the other person. This action physically lessens the distance between you two, so it can portray a closeness in your relationship as well. In addition, when you lean in, you indicate your focus and attentiveness towards the other person. Conversely, you should avoid leaning backward as this suggests your dislike of the other person and that you are trying to keep your distance from them. 

In addition to saying the right things at the right time, your nonverbal cues can help you foster a personal or professional relationship with the people around you. You can even use these signals together to reinforce your sincerity and give weight to your words. Aside from mirroring how you genuinely feel, demonstrating positive body language during your interactions can show your goodwill and politeness, so you always leave a good impression.