Coffee clicks have gone the way of cigarette breaks – they’re all but extinct. Nowadays most people communicate by email, IM, or phone. “So if your colleagues are chatting you up in the hallway, they’re taking time to break routine to speak to you,” says body language expert Patti Wood. If they avert their eyes or sneak glances at their watches during a conversation, they may not be so into you.
During a one-on-one, does your colleague nod thoughtfully and lean into your conversation? Do the corners of her eyes crinkle when she smiles in response to funny comments you make? “The more animated a person’s face, the more emotionally invested they are in the conversation,” says Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language.
“People deviate from their normal speech patterns when they’re nervous or uncomfortable,” says body language expert Maryann Karinch, co-author of How to Spot a Liar. Someone who normally speaks at a leisurely pace might become a speed talker, while a person who usually talks quickly might pause for long moments. If they enjoy your company, you won’t notice a change in their vocal stride.
Asking for your opinion – that’s a no-brainer. But letting you take control of a conversation is a less obvious way to show how much they care about what you have to say. “You can see the degree to which other people respect you by observing how often they look to you for a reaction or a cue,” says psychologist Ann Demarais, co-author of First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You. “And when a problem arises, they turn to face you.”
“When you sit down at a meeting, see if your neighbours move their stuff closer to themselves and out of your way, or push their chair back a bit to give you more room,” Demarais says. “That shows respect.”
What they say about imitation and flattery is true: “Subconsciously, we try to mirror people we like and respect,” Reiman says. So if you notice your colleague mimicking your movements – for example, picking up her pen or cupping her chin with her hand when you do – she probably admires you.
He spends an hour trying to fix your frozen computer, gives up his chair at a crowded conference room table, or offers to pick you up a latte during his afternoon coffee run. Maybe he’s just an incredibly nice guy – but more likely, he’s into you.
Saying things like “Hi, Jane,” or “How are you doing, Jane?” may seem like common courtesy, but it’s actually an intimate gesture. Consider it the verbal equivalent of a touch on the arm – a way to get more personal.
In the civilised world as in the wild, strong, physically imposing alpha males have the best shot at mating. So men instinctively want to make themselves seem bigger and badder around women they’re interested in, Reiman says. If he suddenly stops slouching and puffs out his chest when he’s around you (the old “I’m just stretching my arms” routine), take note – he may have a crush.
Read His Signals
The Clue: He keeps scratching his nose or ears.
The Clue: He always seems to be holding something in his hands.
The Clue: He draws his lips.
The Clue: He holds one of his wrists.
Goal 1: Create a Better First Impression
Start here: When meeting a new guy, don't freak— even if you're at your college pal's birthday party and she abruptly disappears after introducing you to one of her new colleagues. The key to a great conversation is starting off right. Make him feel at ease by stepping to his side, says Patti Wood, a communications and body language expert and author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions. "While women like to chat face-to-face because it makes them feel heard and understood, this direct approach can make men feel as if they're facing an opponent, which will put them on the defensive," says Wood. Before there's time for an awkward silence to set in, "jump right in with a 'best' or 'favorite' question, like 'What's your favorite band?' (if there's music playing) or 'What's the you've ever had?'" she suggests. Positive-charged, springboard questions like these also work well in other potentially awkward situations, like, ahem, dinner with your new boyfriend's parents.
Start here: Minimize trolling the Web for job openings and sending your résumé out into the abyss, says Anita Attridge, a career and executive coach. Fifty percent of jobs are never posted online, and 80 percent are obtained through networking or direct contact, according to The Five O'Clock Club, a national career coaching and outplacement organization. Build your network by first determining the industry, position, and geographic area of interest to you. Then identify specific companies you'd like to work for, and either call the company or search using LinkedIn to track down the direct contact info of the person who is in the position to hire you (e.g., the manager of the department that interests you). On , check to see if you have any connections to that person or know anyone else at the company who may be able to clue you in on unlisted job openings. After all, 82 percent of the Fortune 100 companies from 2011 found job candidates using LinkedIn, and more than 2 million companies are listed on it.
Start here: "Speak with the HR department of your company and sign up for its 401(k), if one is offered," says Erin Botsford, CEO of The Botsford Group, a wealth-management firm. Contributing to your 401(k) is by far the easiest and most beneficial way to for retirement. "If your company matches your contribution, this is basically the equivalent of getting free money from your company, and you won't have to pay taxes on any of it until you take it out to use it," says Botsford. Ask your benefits coordinator in HR for the specifics and whether there's a certain amount of time you'll have to work there before the company's contribution becomes yours. Use an investment calculator online (try ) to figure out exactly how much you'll have when you reach the age of 65 (if you invest $675 a month and get an average annual return of 8 percent, you can rack up over a million bucks after 30 years!). Within your 401(k), you get to decide how to invest all that hard-earned cash. The further you are from retiring, the more risks you can afford to take, so it may make sense to consider investing in stock mutual funds or ETFs since they traditionally outperform most other options. As you get closer to retiring, move your money to more stable investments, like money-market accounts, bonds, and stable value accounts. If you're self-employed or don't have the option of a 401(k), you can sign up for a tax-advantaged IRA. Start right (and ASAP!) and by the time you're ready to retire, you'll be able to turn all those earnings into a condo in sunny Florida.
Start here: First, think about what you can add to your diet, not what you need to take out. "Instead of depriving or restricting yourself, think about food groups you may not be getting enough of," says Shana Sporman, a registered dietitian in Boston. If you rarely eat anything green, aim to eat at least one serving of (of any hue!) with lunch and dinner. When eaten consistently, these can make you feel fuller longer, boost your energy, and improve digestion. Your body's natural biology craves this variety and balance, which studies show also affects your mood and ability to focus. Next, think about where you're overdoing it. If you need to tame that sweet tooth, start by making small, sustainable changes instead of going cold turkey. Substitute one pack of sweetener in your coffee for two, and instead of a scoop of ice cream, have a scoop of Greek yogurt covered with berries, or mix half a cup of regular Cheerios with your usual frosted O's. By easing into a big lifestyle change, whether it's cutting back on sugar or going organic, you'll be more likely to stick to it and be successful.
Start here: Begin with your bed. It's the focal point of your bedroom, and something as simple as a new bedspread or duvet cover can transform the whole room and inspire a theme or color palette for the rest of your project. "Buy a new headboard (you can pick up a freestanding upholstered headboard for around $200 at Target) or fake it with a couple of 26-inch European square pillows with matching shams propped against the wall behind your regular pillows and throw pillows," says Lauri Ward, home design expert at Redecorate.com. A tailored bed skirt in the same fabric will tie the chic look together. Don't worry–it'll make the room feel symmetrical and relaxing, not matchy-matchy. Then think balance. Even if you live alone, buy a mate for your bedside table. (Note: The tables don't necessarily have to match, but if they're wood, they should have matching finishes.) Top the pair with matching lamps. "Just like shoes, you can never have too many pairs of anything, be it pillows, frames, or lamps," says Ward.
Start here: Whether you're creating a blog or a Twitter account, start by uploading your photo. "The default Twitter egg avatar is a common identifier of spam accounts, so adding a photo (headshots work best!) encourages others to follow you," says Steve Birkett, a new-media specialist who blogs at riseabovethestatic.com. Plus, a photo shows you've put some time into crafting your profile and gives potential followers an idea of who you are. Get your first tweet out there on a Tuesday, the busiest day for Twitter, according to studies. Introduce yourself in your first tweet with something like, "Starting to tweet! I'm an accountant in NYC, passionate about all things Web and music," and include a link to your blog if you have one. Start by tweeting three or four times a day, spaced out as evenly as possible. (The number of daily tweets varies greatly from user to user, so adjust your strategy however you'd like.) Your first blog post is crucial because it sets the scene for future posts. Put it up on Monday morning–people are most active online on weekday mornings, and getting it up early in the week is your best bet, says Birkett. Build a base of four to five posts before you really start talking it up. "Your visitors will have something substantial to dig in to, and the longer they stick around, the more likely they will be to subscribe," says Birkett. Subscription options are key, so make sure it's easy for visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed or to sign up via e-mail!
Start here: "Your eyebrows can make or break your whole look—messy brows draw attention to other imperfections, such as less-than-perfect skin or messy makeup, while a defined brow shape makes everything look more symmetrical and polished," says Emily Kate Warren, a makeup artist in San Francisco. Make sure you have good light (natural light or a lighted makeup mirror works best) and tweeze any strays that are totally out of line. Then, brush hairs upward and use a blunt-ended eyebrow pencil (like Sormé eyebrow pencil in soft gray for dark hair or soft blonde for lighter hair, available at Amazon.com) to draw little dashes anywhere you see skin. Already got the perfect brows? Pick up a new blush in a fun, bright color. You'll instantly and studies show that men are drawn to women with flushed cheeks. When females of many primate species become fertile, their estrogen levels peak, opening up their blood vessels and turning their faces bright red. This flushed complexion seems to give males the signal that it's time to make their move. The same could be true for humans. In a previous study, scientists showed that men seem to be more attracted to women clothed in red rather than in a neutral color such as white. Men interpreted the red outfit as a signal that the woman was more open to sexual advances. Keep the color concentration on the apples of your cheeks and dust a finishing swipe across your nose.
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.