It’s good to be liked, anyone good have told you that. Unfortunately, in business and pleasure, we meet so many people across our lives that making a stand-out first impression can sometimes be your only chance of connecting with someone. Who knows, that person could end up being your husband, your boss or just a lifelong friend…
However, especially in business, nervous habits can say more about you than the content of what you’re saying. You can read our guide on micro-expressions for a more in-depth look at the meaning behind facial expressions and body language.
Certain nervous habits, regardless of how obvious they are, can come off as rude, confrontational or dismissive even if they’re completely harmless.
Psychologists argue that awareness about your own habits is the first step to overcoming them. These are some classic nervous habits you should avoid to make great first impressions most of the time (you can’t please everyone!).
Biting your nails
We’ve always wondered if there’s actually anything inherently wrong with nail biting. Apart from how much bacteria harbours in your little finger crevices and the damage it does to your teeth, having gnarled up nails doesn’t do a whole lot for your composed aesthetic. You don’t need to be perfectly manicured but hang-nails have never been the strongest look.
We get it, staring someone in the eyes too long can get a bit weird and feels a bit standoffish but you should stop thinking that. You should aim to have direct contact about half the time you’re talking to someone. When they’re telling you something important keep your eyes locked in, otherwise you’ll come off as insincere.
“That’s a good question”
You might think that this is a good phrase to whip out t show that you’re actively listening but it also makes it super obvious that you’re trying too hard to listen rather than just organically responding to the conversation.
Sign up for the newsletter
Get news, competitions and special offers direct to your inbox
You don’t need to have rehearsed rhetoric and of course you can pause between sentences but starting a question or response with four ‘likes’ and as many ‘ums’ makes you look totally unprepared and incoherent. Just take some time to think before you speak. Thoughtfulness is a very attractive prospect, even if you’re screaming on the inside.