Awkward situation? This is the body language to make people like you

We asked an expert how you can impress bae's parents.

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Got a date this weekend with someone who's definitely fitter than you? Been up all night fretting about meeting your squeeze's UKIP-voting parents?

Under normal circumstances our mantra would be 'be yourself', but if the authentic you enjoys treading on snails and telling strangers their socks don't actually match, you may need to do a bit of harmless pretending.

We asked body language expert Professor Beattie, of Edge Hill University, how you can use body language to endear yourself to people in life's most awkward scenarios. This is what we learnt.

First up: the BIG Interview

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You've filled out that ridiculous online form, faked a B in your geography GCSE and blitzed the telephone interview with your new 'phone voice'. This is it. This is your time to shine.

"Interviewers are looking for people who are relaxed and confident, so the first thing about body language is your relaxed posture," says Prof. Beattie. "Don't fold your arms across your chest or sit too tightly compressed in your seat. By being open, you're making it easier for other people to read you, rather than creating a barrier between you and the interviewer."

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"Don't lock your fingers or sit on your hands because people find you more persuasive if you use gestural movement," he adds. "People are more likely to remember what you say if you gesture because you're putting the same information in a visual code as well as a speech code."

Meeting the in-laws

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You and bae have finally admitted that you're not just shagging and, sick of fielding your mum's questions about what his parents do or why she got a 2:2 in her degree, you decide to organise the big meet.

Your SO's parents may kick puppies and bin the last Rolo because they're "trying to cut down on sugar" but their opinion of you matters. Soz.

"The parents want to see that you're respectful," says Prof. Beattie. "The important signals are eye gaze and nodding, signalling that you're prepared to listen to them and defer to their status at least temporarily."

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Taking an interest in your mother-in-law's monologue about what happened on The Archers last week is super important.

Prof. Beattie suggests: "Show enthusiasm by overlapping with their speech to make sure there are no awkward silences when they talk. Use a lot of back-channelling, which means saying things like 'mm-hmm, yeah'."

Whatever you do, DON'T SUCK FACE IN FRONT OF THEM

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According to the prof, it's all about showing you care about your bf/gf using subtle signals like glances.

He says: "They want to see your bond without you going over the top - definitely no snogging! They'll be looking for more subtle signals of the psychological connection between the two of you."

How to make your date fancy you

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Unlike that BIG interview, this isn't the time to sell yourself.

"Rather than presenting yourself, it's about interacting with another human being and being responsive to their movements," says the prof. "Turn-taking in conversation should be smooth with a tiny bit of overlap but not too much because this comes across as dominance."

As for flirting, it's all about eye gazes and smiles. But don't overdo it.

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Want people to think that you're fun at parties?

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Believe it or not, yelling "SHOTS!" at seven minute intervals and systematically yanking everyone in the room into a selfie with you isn't the best way to make friends.

"People at parties want to interact with someone who's warm and enthusiastic about them," says Prof. Beattie. "It's about being a very attentive listener, a very supportive listener. People like talking to people who make them feel good about themselves."

He adds: "It's not about being the centre of attention and person doing the song and dance. Ask people questions about themselves and signal that you're enjoying hearing their stories with smiles and laughter."

TL;DR: Don't talk about yourself too much, make other people feel interesting, make eye contact and don't grope your SO in front of their parents. Got it?

Professor Geoff Beattie's book Rethinking Body Languageis out in June 2016.

Feature image: Warner Bros

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