Ten Tips to Appear More Approachable With Body Language

How to Have More Open Body Language

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People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are often mistaken for being aloof or disinterested. If you struggle to meet new people or join in conversation at social gatherings, it might be that your body language is sending the message for others to stay away. Chances are it is just nerves and anxiety; you do in fact want to meet others and make friends.

How then can you improve your body language to appear more approachable?

Below are ten tips to get you started.

  1. Smile. The easiest way to appear more approachable to others is to make sure you are wearing a smile instead of a frown. Although it is possible to overdo smiling, generally it is better to have a smile on your face than not. Try to find things that generally make you happy or laugh and your smile will be natural.
  2. Be Accessible. If you are constantly on your smart phone or buried in a newspaper, people will feel like they are interrupting you. Make sure that you are accessible and open to communication from others.
  3. Avoid Blocks. In the same vein, make sure that you aren't using objects to shield yourself from others. If at a party, hold your drink at your side instead of close to your chest. Keep objects between you and others makes you appear guarded and closed.
  4. Keep Your Head Up. It is hard for others to know to approach you if your head is constantly down; they need to see your face to feel like you want to get to know them. Keep your head level when walking, meeting people, and during social situations.
  1. Use Eye Contact. When you do end up talking with someone, be sure to maintain eye contact. A good rule is about 60% of the time you should be looking in the other person's eyes. Avoiding eye contact makes you appear untrustworthy or disinterested.
  2. Angle Towards. Watch your feet, your legs and your body; you should be angling toward the person you are talking to, not away. Any body language that makes you look like you are ready to "bolt for the door" means the other person will feel like you are just not interested.
  1. Avoid Nervous Habits. Even though you might be nervous, avoid the habits that go along with the feeling. Stop touching your face or playing with your hair. Don't fidget with your pen or the change in your pocket. Keep your hands relaxed at your sides or use them to gesture when making conversation.
  2. Mirror the Other Person. Use this technique sparingly but when appropriate. If you are in conversation with another person, mirror his body language to make him feel more comfortable; make some of the same movements that he does. Don't overdo this strategy or it will become obvious what you are doing.
  3. Nod During Conversation. When listening to someone, nod to show that you are paying attention and interested. Doing so reinforces for the other person that you want to be involved in the conversation.
  4. Be Positive. Beyond body language, make sure that you are always positive! Say nice things about other people instead of mean things. Approach others and include those who seem to be left out. Be an all around positive person and you will attract people to you.

If you suffer with severe anxiety it might feel overwhelming to try out these strategies to appear more approachable. Although it will feel unnatural at first, with time you might start to feel more open and confident as a result of changing your body language.

If, however, you still struggle to be open with others, it is best to seek help for your social anxiety. There are effective treatments such as medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that will make a difference in your life.


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