When we start dating someone, other than having a wonderful time, our minds are continuously forming initial impressions, and interpreting words and signals while we get to know each other. The actual words we use together with how we say them, tone, volume etc., contribute up to just 45% of our message and the rest is conveyed through body language, such as posture, gestures and mannerisms. We naturally interpret body language to gauge what the person is really feeling inside – critical when we fancy someone!
It’s 6pm on a Tuesday evening and I am propped up on a high backed arm chair in the Connaught in Mayfair, enjoying a glass of wine. All around I see couples engrossed in conversation.
The couple sat opposite me catch my attention. Like watching a movie scene with no volume, a tale of love appears to unfold before my very eyes. The man, in early 40′s, good looking, has his arms outstretched with his palms facing upwards, and he is looking into her eyes with a large smile on his face at they chat effortlessly. His body language is telling me that he is a man full of confidence and charisma and he is fully engaged and intent on making a connection with this woman. The lady, elegant, mid thirty, chats back with colourful expression – as though she is telling him about some exciting news. She is smiling and her eyes sparkle and she leans towards him strokes her arm and flicks her hair off her face.
A second couple catch my eye. The lady sits with her partner at a 45 degree angle to him, her arms and legs are crossed, and she glances at the floor other than the occasional glance at him as she speaks, it is tight and strained giving her a look of nervousness or perhaps impatience. Although I can’t hear anything either couple are saying, I can perceive within just a few seconds how each person is feeling.
When you are dating someone, or even when you are in a relationship, be aware of how your thoughts and feelings are echoed not just in the words you use, but in your body language. Here are a few tips for communicating effectively using body language:
Tip 1: you can’t send body language by text or email.
This might be obvious, but how often do we all read an email or text from our other half adding our own tone and often reading it negatively rather than positively. So much is lost in translation that can act to your detriment. At any point in the dating process and even in fully blossomed relationships, any message you want to communicate that has an emotional underpinning should be discussed in person or at least over the phone.
Tip 2: Smile
Smiling communicates happiness universally. Smiling on a date will not only make your partner feel at ease, but the muscular movements trigger a response that actually makes you feel happier. If you do not smile, it will make you look unhappy, nervous, serious or wanting to go home!
Tip 3: Move closer
The proximity you keep to a partner gives an instinctive indication of emotional closeness. Leaning in towards each other indicates respect or liking. Research has shown that we are only comfortable in having close friends, family, and of course that someone special within 18 inches of our own body.
Tip 4: Face on
Looking at your partner face-on when sat opposite, or twisting your body towards him if sat next to each other, shows you are interested. Crossing your knee away from him or folding your arms (closed body language) tells him his luck has run out.
Tip 5: It’s all in the eyes
Your eyes give away a lot of underlying messages. Although some flirting can involve teasing glances, men still like to know that you think they are interesting. You can communicate this by looking him in the eye and giving small nods that show him you are connected to what he is saying. You are more likely to be making too little eye contact with your partner on a date than too much, so try holding eye contact for just a couple of seconds longer when he is telling you about something personal. The sparks of chemistry will soon be flying!
Tip 6: Flirtatious Gestures
The body language we use on a date should be very different from that used in the work place, but it’s amazing how many people can’t switch between the two! When you are dating someone you need to show you are comfortable and give flirtatious signals, such as stroking your hair or skin.
Tip 7: Mirroring
No, this does not refer to you checking yourself out, but rather using your partner’s body as a mirror. You can instantly establish rapport with someone by very subtly mirroring their own body language. So for example, if he props one elbow on the dinner table to hold his head while he talks smoothly and looks into your eyes, you might naturally find yourself having the urge to do the same. As your body language is in sync with each other, it suggests your thoughts and feelings are in sync too.
Next time you are in a café or bar watching the world go by (oh we all do love people watching don’t we?), think about the powerful impressions formed by what you observe for just a few seconds. Now think about the impression you give on a date…