Many are familiar with the phrase “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” When it comes to a first date, many make an effort to appear and behave their best to make a good first impression and to be attractive to the other person. But there is one piece of the puzzle that most tend to neglect due to their lack of awareness and knowledge – their body language. The messages from your body are a lot stronger than how you look, how you speak, and what you say. In this interview, I asked body language coach Kerstin O’Shields to share some useful information on how to use body language to communicate with others for optimum results and to have a more positive dating experience.
Kerstin O'Shields is a Body Language Strategist, Presentation Speaker, and Coach. She has an in-depth knowledge of all levels of communication with years of training and performing in theater and opera. She adapted the training she experienced on stage to communication both personally and professionally. Kerstin brings her unique skills, talents, and understanding of non-verbal communication to life in a program that impacts how each of us is viewed and received. She customizes her training and instruction to meet the specific needs of her clients. With the skill set of enhanced body language, you can create influence without saying a word.
Why is body language such an important component of the non-verbal communication during a first date?
The body and the brain are hardwired together, and what we are thinking shows up in our body language. It is important to be aware of what we communicate through our body. As body language is 80% of our communication, it changes and solidifies the words we speak. This awareness can help us influence the success of a date, or any other human interaction. For example, when you want to get a certain reaction from the person you are dating, reflect out what you want to be reflected back to you. Show up with the purpose of creating an enjoyable experience for both of you. That confidence and fun that you will be reflecting out in your body language will change the mood of the interaction, and will encourage the same response from the person you are with.
What aspects of body language can contribute to the success of the first date?
There are several basic factors of body language that people should be aware of in any human interaction. The first and most important thing for everyone to remember, which I can’t stress enough, is that confidence is sexy. When you feel good about yourself, you radiate that out, and people can’t help but react to it. There are several ways to show confidence; here are a few pointers:
Posture: When it comes to making a first impression, posture is where you communicate your confidence the most. We respond emotionally to what we physically see. A tall posture exudes that you are a person who is comfortable and confident in who you are. An open torso also exudes trust and an openness to get to know others. For a confident posture, you want to be tall from your spine and your torso open with your shoulder back and relaxed. Let your hands hang nicely on both sides of your body showing you are relaxed and easy to be around.
Symmetry: A good posture also shows your body in its best symmetry. Symmetry is beauty; as humans we are attracted to symmetry in nature, art, and in other people. A good posture shows your body in its most symmetrical form. So, when you walk and sit with good posture, you put yourself in your most attractive state. On the other hand, if you are shrinking down in your posture, your chest sinks, and your whole body loses its symmetry. You make your body go into a “blob” state, and we can no longer distinguish your symmetrical parts. This can make your body appear up to 10 lb heavier…no one wants that on a first date!
Physical appearance: Hair, clothing, etc., which I call “tribe identifiers”, are important for a first impression. Show up with the type of clothing and style that is authentic to you and will attract the kind of person who is right for you. For example, if you are a woman who never wears heels but you show up on a first date in heels - trying to impress someone, you will be uncomfortable. You will exude the awkward physical feelings of being unstable in your 3-inch pumps. This will communicate to others, through your body language, that you are feeling awkward just being yourself, making the whole date feel uneasy. You are not representing who you truly are, and you will not be attracting someone you really want as a life partner. A man in your “tribe” finds a woman in flats very attractive. The better plan is to show up with the best version of yourself. Dress up in something nice that lets people see the genuine you, not a perfect you.
Facial Expressions: We connect with each other in our conversations by looking each other in the eye. Direct eye contact should be 80% of the time. Eyebrows are where we express our specific emotions and can be magic on a first date. A slight lift in the eyebrows is a signal of interest. When someone walks into the room and we find them attractive usually our eyebrows shoot up a little bit to say, “Oh, hello there.”
Relax: Last but not least, remember to breathe, smile, and be a good listener. Let the other person feel that you are there to communicate with them. Show up with the response that you want to get, like smiling and enjoying yourself, because the person in front of you will mirror it back to you.
What is the key to conveying a good body language?
Remember that body language is a mindset. Rather than thinking that you are going on a date, which can be stressful, think of it as a time to make a connection with someone else. You can either walk away with a new romance or a great new friend. When you think of it this way, it takes the pressure off, it is easier to relax and reflect out the greatness of who you truly are.