Your mom always told you to stand up straight. Your teachers told you not to slouch in your seat at school. Your coach had a lot of opinions on how you sat, stood, and moved, and so did your chorus teacher. When you were a kid, you might have thought that all of these adults were overly interested in your posture. But from that early age, your parents, teachers, and coaches were all teaching you an important lesson—body language matters.

As an entrepreneur, your body language matters for your success more than you know. The way you stand, sit, speak, and gesture will convey whether or not you’re open to new ideas, if you’re in control of a situation, if you’re approachable, if you’re someone people will listen to and enjoy working with, and much more.

So how can you optimize your body language to show the world who you are and what you want? Use a few simple body language secrets.

STAND UP STRAIGHT

As it turns out, your mom and teachers were right—slouching is bad news. It shows disrespect, and it conveys the message that you’re bored and you’d rather be anywhere but here. Just standing or sitting with good posture can change that message to a more positive one. Instead of saying, “Why am I even here?” your posture will say, “I’m listening…”

Good posture is professional, and it not only shows respect but commands respect. So pull your shoulders back, pick your head up, and stand up straight.

LEAN INTO A CONVERSATION

Whether you’re in a conversation across a desk or a dinner table, try this simple move. Instead of sitting back in your chair, lean forward. This shows that you’re engaged with the conversation and interested in finding positive solutions.

MAKE EYE CONTACT BUT KEEP IT CASUAL

People who avoid eye contact are often seen as untrustworthy, suspicious, or unsure of themselves. You want to show confidence and sincerity, and you can do that by making positive eye contact. At the same time, don’t be too intense with your eye contact.

If you lock eyes with someone for too long or too intensely, it makes you look overly aggressive. Hold eye contact naturally; it’s okay to break contact after a few seconds, especially when you’re talking. Make a habit of glancing to the side, not down, when you do this, as it is a more confident, less submissive move.

KNOW WHEN TO CROSS YOUR ARMS

You probably already know that crossed arms make a person look closed off and unapproachable. When talking with others, it’s a good idea to keep your hands loosely relaxed at your sides. This doesn’t mean, though, that you should never cross your arms at all.

If you’re stuck on a problem that you’re working out on your own, try crossing your arms over your chest. Breathe in and feel your ribs pushing against your arms. Oddly enough, this stance is great for staying focused and pushing forward, especially with a problem that’s been giving you a lot of trouble and seems to be eluding any possible solution. Just remember to uncross those arms when you work with others to find a solution or pitch an idea.

Watch any successful entrepreneur and see how many of these body language secrets you see in action. You might be surprised how often they’re used and how effective they are.

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