The gestures you make with your hands sends a lot of messages to those around you. Sometimes you accidentally send messages that you do not want to send. Learning how to control your body language and what to do with your hands can make a huge difference and help you influence others during any conversation.

According to the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS), speakers who gesture more develop more rapport and trust with their audiences. They’re seen as warm and trusting rather than stuffy and dishonest. Take some time to look at YouTube videos of speakers who are considered good. They use their hands to make points and to involve the audience in the conversation. This is true wither it’s a speech or a one-on-one conversation.

1. Shake Hands Properly Â? Learning the best way to shake hands is a very important aspect of communication with others. When you begin your conversation, usually you start with a handshake and introduction or other pleasantries. If the handshake is weird or awkward, nothing else you say will matter. Shake hands with your right hand, grasping the other person’s hands firmly but not hard. Squeeze and shake their hand up and down a couple of times.

2. Let People See Your Hands Â? When you cross your arms, or stuff your hands in your pockets you not only look uncomfortable, but people also interpret this as you being closed off. They may not even realize it, but they will see you as less friendly and open. To be more friendly and open, be sure that your hands aren’t hidden.

3. Touch People When Appropriate Â? Think about how politicians interact with the public. They shake hands, touch people, and kiss babies, right? You should be no different. When the time is right, and not in a creepy way, it’s okay to touch someone’s arm, or pat them on the shoulder or back. Also, some people are huggers. If they are and move in for a hug hello or goodbye, hug them right back.

4. Use Appropriate Hand Motions Â? Now that your hands are out in the open, you may find yourself feeling as if you have appendages that are in the way. But, using your hands to make hand motions such as pointing at things (regardless of what your mom taught you), and using them to express a story, will make you seem a lot more friendly, open and honest.

5. Avoid Touching Your Face Â? Not only is touching your face bad for your skin, it also makes you look unsure, nervous, dishonest and even judgmental. People perceive stroking your chin and looking at people as a judgmental expression. Touching your nose or covering your mouth while you speak can be seen as dishonest.

6. Show Your Palms Â? Do go nuts, but letting someone see your palms when you explain things shows openness and this makes the listener feel as if you are honest as well. In human non-verbal language, showing your palms is a little like showing your belly if you’re a dog.

7. Understand What Hand Gestures Mean Â? Take some time to research hand gestures so that you can improve your performance when you are at meetings or other events. It’s amazing what very small hand gestures can do for you in terms of your influence on others.

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Learning how to influence people by simply using your hands may sound like wishful thinking, but the fact is that it works. Learning to be comfortable talking with your hands, showing your respect with your hands, and communicating with your hands will go far in helping you influence others during conversations.

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