Instant result: Rectify sins one and two simultaneously and you'll see remarkable changes in your life. According to communications specialist Gordon Wainwright, simply by making these alternations - walking tall, keeping your shoulders back and looking straight ahead - you'll feel more positive and confident, walk faster, feel fitter, notice more, react faster to what's happening around you, and think faster and more clearly as well. If that's not enough incentive for you, people will respond differently to you as well. They'll agree more with what you say and generally be friendlier. This worked a treat with lots of people on Would Like to Meet. More than one transformed immediately from Mr or Ms uncomfortable to Mr or Ms cool.
Sin 3: Fiddling With Your Collar or Scratching Your Neck
What it says about you: If you're constantly scratching your neck or pulling your collar away from it, you might as well have a neon sign hanging round it that reads 'My name's John/Jane and you're making me feel horribly insecure and/or as nervous as hell'. Both gestures are signs of doubt and uncertainty. Interestingly, most of us use the same finger (the index) to scratch, and aim for the same place (just below the ear on the side of the neck). Even more bizarre, almost everyone scratches exactly five times.
People pull their clothes away from their necks when they're in a 'hot spot', literal or otherwise. If you're feeling exposed or caught out, you start sweating, so you pull the clothes away from your neck to get a bit more air. We also do it when we fib. Zoologist and body language expert Desmond Morris found that when we tell a lie, we get a tingling sensation in the face and neck. This is because the heart beats faster when nervous (which most people are when fibbing), the blood pumps harder and the blood vessels dilate. As the skin on the face and necks is particularly sensitive, it's uncomfortable to have clothes rub against it, so we pull them away.
Fix it by: By being aware of what your hands are doing at any given moment (always a good idea). If you feel them hovering anywhere near your neck (and you're not a girl about to launch into a touch-and-tease moment, see page 00), mentally slap yourself and take a quick detour. Turn the movement into a preening (I'm interested in looking good for you) gesture, by smoothing your hair or collar/top.
Instant result: You'll appear more in control, more sincere and more comfortable in any given situation.
Sin 4: Propping Up Your Face with Your Hand
What it says about you: Putting your hand on the side of your face and leaning on it sends three clear messages:
1. I'm so bored and tired, I can hardly hold my head up.
2. I'm feeling faintly superior and quite possibly judging you while I'm at it. (There's no way we'd sit like that in front of a boss or someone we respected.)
3. I don't like my face much, which is why I'm hiding half of it. (There is one exception to this rule: people sometimes wrap both hands around their face, lean forward and gaze transfixed if totally besotted with someone. But even if this is your excuse, are you sure you want them to know about it at this early stage?)
Fix it by: Er, removing your hand? That's a great start. Then how about you do something else with it, like run your fingers through your hair and actually hold your hair back from your face. This says, 'Have a good look. I like how I look, so you should too.' Keeping one hand stationary in one position is also restrictive. Not only does it stop you moving your face around (to show it off at different angles), it immediately rules out any chance of touching. (You try hugging with one arm, or leaning across the table to hold someone's hand while keeping your other hand firmly plonked under your chin.)
Instant result: They stop thinking 'I'm boring you/You'd rather be at home tucked up in bed (alone)/I'm talking complete rubbish/Not good enough for you, etc.' Instead, you (and they) are in with a chance. They'll also feel less self-conscious. The other problem with leaning on your hand and gazing at someone is that they feel like they're under a spotlight. Your focus is too intense. Remove your hand, look away as well as at them and they get the space they need. You don't just appear more interested, alive and involved in the conversation, you lighten the mood as well.