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<em>This article was originally written by Brett and Kate McKay for ArtofManliness.com</em>

<strong>Sometimes we act in ways that contradict how we really feel and create barriers to people accessing our best qualities.</strong> Improving your first impression clears these obstacles, increasing the chances that new acquaintances will be able to connect with you and better get to know who you really are. Nailing the “mechanics” of a good first impression gives you the assurance that its outcome — good or bad — will be based on actual compatibility, rather than a misfiring of external cues.

There are two components to creating a positive first impression: what you say (conversation) and how you act (body language). Both components are important (you can read more about the art of conversation here), but the latter is actually much more influential.

Nonverbal cues have 4X the impact on your impression than your words do. Thus, how you stand, sit, gesture, and generally hold yourself can either significantly enhance or detract from the overall first impression you make on others.

In order to make your body language a first impression booster, you want it to communicate 3 main things:<strong> openness, confidence, and interest.</strong>

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<h2>Body Language That Communicates Openness</h2>
Have you ever needed to ask someone to take a picture for you, or looked around the room at a party trying to decide who to talk to? How did you pick? You may not have realized it, but you likely chose someone who looked “open” rather than “closed.” There was something about their facial expression, gaze, posture, and the way they talked and interacted with others that seemed warm, safe, and approachable rather than threatening, hostile, aloof, and/or self-contained.

How do you achieve such a welcoming aura yourself, so that people want to make contact in the first place, and can feel a sense of connection with you once they do?

It’s primarily about opening up what body language expert Patti Wood calls your “body windows.”

Body windows are parts of the body that influence others to see you as more open or closed, all depending on how you orient them. These are places that feel intimate and/or are vulnerable to physical attack. When you “expose” them to others, therefore, the more primal part of people’s brains reads you as more accessible and approachable.

Wood compares someone who keeps these body parts “closed” to a house with boarded up windows — the effect is bleak, creepy, confined, and off-putting; you certainly don’t want to go in. A house with open windows, in contrast, feels fresh, welcoming, and inviting.

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<h2>Body Language That Communicates Confidence</h2>
Just because you should seek to display openness and a little vulnerability, doesn’t mean you want to come across as timid or docile. On the contrary, being able to demonstrate some vulnerability shows that you feel strong and secure — that you’re not worried about being “attacked” or hurt.

Confidence in general in fact contributes to a more positive first impression for several reasons.

First, when you’re anxious and nervous, this can create a visceral reaction of suspicion in people. They can’t be sure if you’re anxious simply because you’re shy, or because you’re hiding something.

Second, insecurity reads as a potential social cost. As we discussed last time, people like people who are a social benefit, rather than a social burden. Someone who’s insecure is going to be really needy, and need a lot of affirmation. People can instinctively see the kind of energy they’re going to need to divert into constantly buoying the person up, and this makes them want to back away.

Third, confidence is an in-demand resource, not only in ourselves but in those we associate with. People like to partner up with others who <a href=”http://www.artofmanliness.com/tag/status/” data-wpel-link=”internal”>raise their own status</a>. And they like comrades who will help them navigate life with aplomb; everyone wants someone with moxie on their team.

Finally, your comfort level affects that of other people. When you feel anxious and insecure, your demeanor spreads, and the people around you start feeling that way too. Conversely, when you feel relaxed and comfortable with yourself, that helps put other people at ease. The aura of confidence creates a pocket of safety and security, and people want to be in it.

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<h2>Body Language That Communicates Interest</h2>
There’s probably not a truer truism of making a good first impression than the fact that people like people who are interested in them. Why is this the case? Because interest invariably becomes reciprocal. As Wood explains:
<blockquote>“If you show people that you are interested in them, like them, and respect them, they are simply more likely to feel the same way about you than if they don’t know your feelings of interest or attraction. Thus, if you show interest in someone, you are more likely to be the object of his or her interest.”</blockquote>
Interest cannot only be conveyed by asking someone plenty of open-ended questions and listening attentively while they talk, but also by the kind of body language you exhibit. In some instances, your behaviors will be a continuation of what you started in order to convey openness, but now have an added layer of meaning in the context of interacting.

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If you like what you’ve read, check out the entire article with more details <a href=”http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/11/09/body-language/”>here</a>.