Savvy negotiators know that reading body language during a negotiation is essential. Yet, numerous business people fail to read nonverbal messages of their counterparts, mainly because they’re not paying enough attention. They simply overlook crucial signs. Negotiation experts typically advise us to meet with our counterparts in person whenever possible rather than relying on the telephone or internet.
As convenient as electronic media may be, they can’t transmit the visual cues that help convey valuable information and forge connections in face-to-face talks. Without access to gestures and facial expressions, those who negotiate at a distance have trouble accurately “reading each other” and building rapport. Your body can say a lot more than your voice in business, and because we’re humans sometimes our involuntary gestures can bring to the surface emotions we want to keep hidden.
Anxiety is one of the most common emotions a business negotiator can sense. That fear of not closing a good deal can get the best of you if you can’t control yourself. To begin, breathe deeply and remind yourself that you deserve what you’re asking for. Body language is tied to our thoughts, not so much our words.
Recognizing Body Language
As a professional person, recognizing body language should be included in your skill set. Rookie often use erratic gestures, voice murmuring, exhibit excessive sweating, shaking, and even excessive blinking as clear signs of anxiety. You can use them to your advantage. Some negotiators like to pretend they are rookies to catch an opponent off guard.
Assume a Relaxed Posture – Easing tension you are feeling in your bones is the best way to deal with negotiations. Your heart rate might be faster, but opponents can’t hear it.
Making Eye Contact – The golden rule of successful negotiations is eye contact. It could also be your worst enemy. Stressed or anxious negotiators don’t like to make eye contact, or don’t have the courage to look their counterparts in the eye. Develop the courage to look at your business associate straight in the eye and it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll end up with good bargain.
Build Short-term Trust – This is a necessity for successful negotiations. One technique is to mirror your opponent’s behavior. Take note of their body language when they speak and respond to them with the same enthusiasm.
“Tell-signs” – A signs few signs to watch for are, hand on cheek vs. hand under chin When you’re making your case, if they put their hand on their cheek they are paying attention and are interested in what you’re saying! If they start stroking their chin, they are about to make a decision. If they are looking at you in the eye, they are seriously considering your proposal.
Head Tilting – Your final offer or counter proposal is on the table. As you are wrapping it up, the other person tilts their head as they’re listening. This is a great sign! They are engaged and interested. Tilt your head back. This is a nonverbal sign that you are both in agreement.
Important Cues – Engagement actions (head nods, forward leans, and eye contact) point out interest and agreement; on the other hand, disengagement actions (leaning back, frowns, looking away) indicate that the individual is uninterested, annoyed, suspicious or even bored. Tension cues (face-touching, firmly crossed ankles and higher vocal tone) are a clear sign of discomfort, which means that your opponent isn’t satisfied with how things are proceeding.
Gesture Clusters – Nonverbal signals generally come about in a clusters: a set of movements, actions and even postures that emphasize a certain point of view. For instance, if you notice that your opponent keeps fidgeting, doesn’t look you in the eye and wrings their hands, you can be sure that they’re anxious.
Once you become practiced at deciphering the unspoken word that convey a hidden meaning, you’ll get more out of every negotiation session.
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