How do you make a good first impression? Here’s a hint: it doesn’t all have to do with the words you actually speak. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, the author of “Silent Messages,” only about 7% of our messages are conducted at the linguistic level. Vocal elements and nonverbal elements such as voice, posture, and gestures conveyed the remaining information. If you want to make the best possible first impression, it helps to know the body language that will help you fill that gap—and of course, great clothing helps too!
Better Posture Through the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is great for improving your body language, because it emphasizes both proper posture and nonverbal cues. The technique was developed by an actor who struggled to project his voice. He found that when he corrected his posture, his body language not only improved, but so did his ability to command the faculties of his vocal intonations.
Here are some tips for using the Alexander Technique yourself:
- Take time out of your day to correct your posture. One recommended exercise is getting used to proper posture by lying on the ground with your head resting on a couple of books. The goal is to repeatedly feel the sensation of uprightness while remaining at ease, which is a central precept for making the technique work.
- Be aware of your poor posture habits. These days, slumping over a chair as we check our phone or leaning near a desktop computer have problematic effects on the way our head interacts with the rest of our body. Break yourself from these habits with regular breaks from technology, and take the time to walk around with your shoulders back, your head and back relaxed, and your neck at ease.
The goal isn’t to create a dominant, aggressive posture. Nor is it to slink away in submission. With an upright, relaxed posture, you’ll create a far more “neutral” way of standing and walking that will help improve your confidence without being domineering.
As you engrain these habits into your regular life, you’ll likely notice that it’s easier to stand tall and at ease in most social situations. But what about the other body language tips?
Gestures & Body Language
Most of your time in a situation like a job interview will be spent doing something other than standing or walking. What should you do to create a great first impression? Here are a few things to consider:
- Hands and palms. When actor Sir Patrick Stewart was once asked what actors were supposed to do with their hands, he reportedly responded: nothing. A neutral stance means keeping the hands calmly at your side, neither showing the palms open nor hiding them away, which can indicate defensiveness. But you can use hands and palms to express certain ideas and even indicate openness when telling a story.
- Relaxation. Your natural poise and sense of feeling “at ease” will have additional mental effects, decreasing nervousness and improving your responses to questions. Concentrate on the feeling you get from relaxing specific body parts—for example, unclenching your jaw will help you feel more natural, as if you were sitting at home.
- Variety. Using vocal intonation and a wide variety of facial expressions can help you avoid becoming too monotone or overpowering with your body language. Watch clips of famous comedians like Jim Carrey or Robin Williams to get a sense of just how powerful the mere act of variety can be.
With an upright, neutral posture and plenty of relaxation and variety in your nonverbal cues, you’ll find that many of your body language problems correct themselves. But when you’re hoping to make a great first impression, be aware of the impact of your clothes as well. Shop our collections here at Vintage 1946 to create a great first impression that goes beyond your body language!