What signals are you sending when you meet a client for the first time? Are you warm and welcoming or do you maintain a professional distance? Do you strive to communicate your expertise but overshoot the mark and come across as over-bearing and arrogant? It’s worth pondering when and if potential clients aren’t receiving the message you think you’re sending.

Every day, our facial expressions, body posture and hand gestures, convey hundreds of little signals which speak volumes. The people around us are constantly assessing our real meanings and making judgments about our intentions.

This is certainly the case in a new client consultation in which the person is meeting you for the first time.

According to the experts, 40% to 50% of our communication is conveyed by body language; 30% is carried by our tone of voice and 10% to 20% consists of actual content.

So when people don’t respond to you the way you’d like, conflicting body language is likely the culprit.

Even when you have the best of intentions, your face may betray you by communicating the wrong message. It could be that you’re tired or stressed. Perhaps you’re concerned about another client – whatever the situation, if you want this client’s business; you must ensure that your body language works for you and not against you.

This lack of self-awareness might result in a lower conversion rate when dealing with potential clients. You may know yourself to be competent, trustworthy, dependable, even brilliant – but if something about your body language signals otherwise, you might be sabotaging your success.

To be more vigilant about the signals you send, look through the following list of behaviors and understand the messages they send. Then commit to being as aware of your unconscious communication as you are about the content you communicate.

Your Greeting Style

Do you smile warmly upon meeting the new clients?
If you don’t do this – begin immediately. If you don’t know if your smile is “warm,” smile at yourself in the mirror and see if you appear genuine.

Do you stand up to greet new clients?
This demonstrates respect and helps to form a good first impression.

Do you shake hands with new clients when appropriate?
Doing so acknowledges their importance and demonstrates a desire to get to know them in a respectful manner.

Do you offer an apology if you’ve kept the client waiting?
This is another signal to the client that you respect them and their time.

Your Conduct During the Consultation

Do you focus only on the new client and nothing else?
Answering the phone, checking e-mail or being distracted while the client speaks let’s the client know they don’t have your full attention and is very disrespectful.

Can you listen without underlying facial tension when talking with the client?
Pay attention to how you look when at rest. If you grit your teeth or work your jaw muscles you’ll appear stressed. If you look down and put a hand to your forehead you’ll appear stressed and possibly confused.

Do you purse your lips and narrow your eyes while listening?
This communicates that you are skeptical of what you hear.

Do you take notes while the clients are telling their story?
This behavior indicates that you’re interested in the details of the client’s story.

Do you maintain appropriate eye contact with them while they speak?
Gazing off into space, looking at your computer and/or phone for too long, without returning your gaze to the potential client, will make you appear distracted, disinterested or intent on avoiding the topic.

Do you maintain an open-handed posture while listening to the client?
Open hands, and open-handed gestures communicate helpfulness and generosity.

Do you tap your fingers or exhibit other nervous gestures?
This will indicate that you are bored and impatient.

Do you unconsciously raise an eyebrow when listening to information?
Generally, this is a sign that you are pessimistic about what you’re hearing.

Do you maintain positive posture when you are meeting with a client?
Leaning slightly forward toward the client is a sign of attentiveness.

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