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To learn more about how to improve and make better use of body language we turned to Stacie Ikka, a Toronto-based dating coach and the founder of Sitting in a Tree, a dating and relationship consulting service.
"Non-verbal communication is noticed about 60 per cent more than the words coming out of your mouth," says Ikka. "When you're flirting, which is a form of communication, body language is more important than the words that are said."
She shares the following body language tips to help you control the impression you're giving off, whether you're looking to meet someone or you're already on the first date.
1. Adopt an open position
It's a good idea to leave some details to the imagination when you're flirting, but your body language must be open in order for you to appear available in the first place.
"Simply put, open body language sends the signal that you're interested and includes gestures like facing the person you're interacting with directly, making eye contact and leaning forward," explains Ikka. "Examples of closed body language include folding your arms across your chest, sitting across from someone with your body angled slightly to the left or right, avoiding eye contact or making tense facial expressions, like frowning."
The more poised, open and self-assured you appear, the more comfortable others will feel approaching you.
2. Make eye contact
When you lock eyes with someone, you're directing your positive energy toward them, making it more likely that they will be drawn to you. However, maintaining eye contact can be difficult for some as their nerves kick in.
"Many people get nervous or shifty when they're attracted to someone. This is because, in those circumstances, the sense is that the stakes are higher," says Ikka. "The tendency is to turn away quickly and furtively when they meet that person's eyes, and it inadvertently sends the wrong signal -- that they're not interested."
If you find yourself becoming nervous and looking down or shifting your attention elsewhere after making eye contact with someone, remember that your actions could be interpreted as aloof or disinterested. Locking eyes, on the other hand, can be perceived as flirtatious and sensual.
Page 1 of 2 -- Learn three more helpful body language tips for dating on page 2
3. Reach out and make contact
The right amount of touching can make a big impression. "The most powerful form of body language is actual, physical contact," says Ikka. "If a man is taking a woman out on a first date, for example, he might think it's inappropriate to touch her at all for fear of crossing boundaries. However by doing so -- offering a light touch to her shoulder as he ushers her through a door he's holding open or touching her back as she walks through the doorway -- it actually works to create attraction."
Of course, circumstances such as the venue and time of your interaction will determine what kind of touch is appropriate. This kind of physical communication requires an ability to gauge the situation and be perceptive.
4. Create a balance
Upon meeting someone new, it's easy to talk a lot -- especially when you're nervous. But the key to building attraction is to find a balance between connecting physically and emotionally, explains Ikka.
"Using our words goes a long way in developing an emotional connection, however it's important to first build the physical connection, and that is where flirting -- when executed effectively -- can provide the necessary segue," she says. Successfully creating that segue comes down to keeping the exchange of information equal on both sides. If one person is talking about themselves for a disproportionate amount of time, the listener's mind is more likely to wander. The goal is to foster interest and attraction, not overwhelm your listener.
5. Be perceptive
Engaging in a positive interaction with someone starts with being perceptive and acting accordingly. "Social intelligence is your ability to be empathic and build strong relationships, but in order to do that you first need emotional intelligence, which means possessing a certain degree of self-awareness," explains Ikka. "There needs to be a bridge to handle the gap between understanding body language and understanding yourself," she says. The stronger your interpersonal skills, the more likely you will be able to pick up on signals and connect with others -- something that starts with a solid awareness of yourself.
Body language often speaks louder than words, and developing an awareness of how you act around others can make a big difference when it comes to meeting -- and connecting -- with new people in a positive way.
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