Did you know that the way you stand, the position of your hands and even how you hold your head could be hurting your business? Many entrepreneurs inadvertently use body language poses that spell the opposite of success. If you’re not being taken as seriously as you’d like or landing the business you want, it may be time to take a close look at your nonverbal communication.

Here are six body language signals, poses and gestures to avoid and what to do instead.

1. Tilting Your Head

You may slightly tip your head to one side when listening intently to someone, but body gestures like this one can make you appear either confused or as though you agree with the person when you are simply considering the message. Avoid tilting your head. Instead, keep your chin parallel to the ground and maintain good eye contact, which indicates that you are an intelligent, decisive person who understands what is being said and can take on any business challenge. To acknowledge that you’re listening, slightly nod your head.

2. Speaking Fast

In addition to making your message hard to follow, speedy speech may make you appear insecure and nervous, which can erode a customer’s confidence in you. Talking fast also results in shallow breathing, which makes you look harried. Concentrate on deep, even breathing, which will slow down your speech and make you appear controlled and confident. This will reassure your client that you are more than capable.

3. Crossed Ankles While Standing

How you arrange your legs when you stand has a profound effect on your demeanor and confidence level. Crossing your ankles might be more comfortable, but it sends out a message to customers that you are timid and unimportant. Strike a strong, confident pose instead by standing with your legs apart and your back straight. This will make you appear and feel successful.

4. “Fig Leaf” Pose

Another stance to avoid when standing involves folding your hands and letting them hang in front of your body. This pose gives clients the impression that you are insignificant and what you have to say is inconsequential. Exude confidence by letting your arms hang to your sides or keeping them bent and lightly clasping your hands together with your forearms parallel to the ground.

5. Maintain Good Eye Contact

Sufficient direct eye contact is important, but don’t overdo it. It’s not necessary or advisable to keep your eyes glued to the other person. Doing this can make a client feel uncomfortable and uneasy, which is not what you’re trying to accomplish. Instead strike a comfortable balance by alternating between meeting the person’s eyes and looking away.

6. Smile

Never underestimate the power of an honest smile. It displays confidence and pleasure with your business. A smile also makes you appear friendly and approachable and gives clients the impression that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy.

Now that you know how different types of body language can speak just as loudly as your words, you can make all of the right moves for success with your small business.

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