Doing This When Meeting New People Sends the Wrong Message

Kelsey Clark

While we don't normally turn to Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights for life advice, his candid "I don't know what to do with my hands" admission is something we can all relate to on some level. Whether you're attending an industry networking event, walking into a job interview, or going on a first date, your hands will most likely wander to your hair, your nails, or anything within five inches of you in an attempt to quell feelings of discomfort.

Unfortunately, those common fidgeting habits can send the wrong message to potential new colleagues, friends, or romantic interests. "When someone first meets you, an evaluation is quietly and unconsciously taking place," Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language, told Business Insider. "There is an incredible amount of processing going on as millions of neurons in the brain are activated and working to determine if they believe you to be credible, trustworthy, and likable. That impression is based primarily on your nonverbal communication."

Specifically, playing with your hair or making awkward or unnatural hand gestures are extremely common, hard-to-break habits that send a message of self-consciousness and nervousness. Business Insider recommends playing with a stress ball, keeping your hands in clear view of the person you're speaking to, and maintaining natural, effortless eye contact instead. Although breaking these almost unconscious habits seems daunting, making an effort to do so will certainly pay off in the long run.

How do you keep yourself from fidgeting in a high-pressure situation? Share your tips in the comments below.

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