Have you ever been too shy to start a conversation? Are you worried about making a good first impression? Do people say you look mean? Yes? Maybe? Whatever the case, all of those feelings are normal. To get over those feelings, you should learn the two gestures universally known to break down social barriers: smiling and making eye contact.
Granted, these things are not considered polite and respectful in every culture, but in many places—including most Western countries—these two moves work like a charm when you're at a loss for words. Does that seem too simple? You should know that simple actions create the largest impact. Subtle actions are a great way to open a conversation. A simple smile and eye contact can take you a long way—humans are all about interaction, after all! These actions can provide that message of wanting to form a connection.
Everyone looks better with a smile. Smiles are so charming, and they make your face glow! A smile is a friendly gesture that can engage others; people will feel you are more approachable. Plus, smiles are so contagious, you can change the mood of an entire room with one smile. Most people like to see others smile, especially if the person is smiling at them, so show off your charming smile!
Holding eye contact with another person is a more direct gesture. Locking eyes with someone else is a way to acknowledge another person’s existence. Eye contact is a great way to show respect to the person you are talking to or to the person who is speaking. Providing such undivided attention helps display that you are attentive and care about what is happening in front of you. Eye contact is also seen as a sincere gesture. Looking into someone’s eyes can be a personal moment and allows for people to express vulnerability.
Smiling and eye contact are so simple; the gestures require little effort on your part, and they can do a lot to make other people feel comfortable around you. Plus, smiling and eye contact gives off a great first impression. People will remember your interaction more, as these gestures show you are invested in your time with them. It's a win-win!
The only hack for smiling and eye contact is sincerity. Be mindful of exaggerating your smile. Forced smiles come off as creepy or fake. Likewise, extreme eye contact is equally creepy. You’ll be able to feel when you passed into the awkward, stalkerish vibe of forced smiling and unwanted eye contact. Once you are in that zone, your intentions might be misunderstood.
Next time you make brief eye contact with someone, send them a smile—especially if it's someone you wouldn't mind talking to. Smiling at someone usually makes people more comfortable about talking to you (or could be taken as flirting—full disclosure!). Try using smiles and eye contact, and see what happens!