When it comes to business negotiations, your body language is just as important as the words you speak. People communicate through a variety of channels and spoken language is not the only way to exchange information. During a negotiation, you can also express ideas and command attention through your body movements and facial expressions. In fact, your body language plays a significant role in business negotiations because it allows you to connect with your counterpart and it also ensures you get your point across clearly without confusion. Since your body language can affect the outcome of your negotiation, be sure and master these five important tips regarding your body language.
Stand Up Straight
When you stand with your back straight and your head up you convey confidence. This immediately sends a message of self-assurance, authority, and power to those around you. In contrast, someone who is slouching might appear nervous or anxious. People naturally notice and react to body cues and appearing strong and confident can go a long way in a negotiation.
Maintain Eye Contact
This doesn’t mean you need to stare at someone to the point where they become uncomfortable, but frequent eye contact is important for connecting with your audience. Whether you are speaking to a group of people or just one person, you want to make it a point to establish eye contact throughout the conversation and especially when you are discussing key issues.
Avoid Unnecessary Hand Gestures
The first sign of nervousness is fidgeting with your hands and arms. When negotiating, you want to make sure and avoid any nervous ticks or habitual hand movements. For example, folding your hands together in a pleading position is a nervous habit that some people do to keep their hands from shaking. Other times, people might cross their arms or put their hands in their pockets because they don’t know what else to do with them. Unfortunately, these gestures make you appear nervous and less persuasive. Instead, use positive hand gestures that send a more confident message. Steepling your fingers, for example, is a much better hand gesture that conveys that what you are saying is important. The right gestures can make you look calm, collected, and confident.
Just because you are negotiating it doesn’t mean that you have to appear as the enemy. Smiling is one of the most genuine and effective ways to build rapport with someone. Smiling generally triggers happy feelings, and this can cause the other person to associate happiness with you. Smiling creates a more positive mood and makes you appear more personable and approachable.
Nod Your Head
People respond positively in a negotiation when they feel like they are being heard. Active listening is one of the most effective communication tools for negotiation and nothing indicates that you are listening better than a nod of the head. Even if the discussion is tense, this nonverbal cue can defuse the tension and demonstrate your willingness to listen. Nodding your head is a great way to validate your counterpart without ever speaking a word. This also indicates that you are open to what they have to say. It is a simple body cue that can lead to alignment, especially during contentious conversations.