People communicate through a variety of channels, not just through language. We express our ideas and feelings through our facial expressions, voice tones, and body gestures. These non-verbal cues, or “body language”, play a significant role in our ability to negotiate with others. More than 80% of our communication is nonverbal and in fact body language has a greater impact in a discussion than the actual words you speak; therefore, it is important to pay close attention to our body language during a negotiation. Though you might say one thing, your body language may indicate something entirely different. Gain the edge and give yourself the advantage with these body language tips that can increase your rate of success in negotiations.
Arrive on Time
Nothing is more important than a first impression and that begins before you ever say a word. Showing up on time is the first step in making the sale. Tardiness is viewed as discourteous and makes you appear lazy and incompetent. Furthermore, you will likely feel rushed and nervous if you are running late. Give yourself the best chance by arriving on time, or a little early for that matter!
Don’t Forget the Handshake
While there has been so much written about the art of the perfect handshake, the truth is the only important thing about your handshake is to have one at all. A handshake is necessary for beginning a conversation because it makes people feel comfortable right from the start. It also promotes honesty and increases cooperative behaviors that can lead to better negotiations.
Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the single most powerful communication tools between two people. It conveys openness and helps to build trust and a positive rapport. Avoiding eye contact in a negotiation can act as a barrier and can give the other person the feeling that you are being dishonest or that you lack knowledge. Do be cautious, however, about making your eye contact seem threatening or intimidating. Keep it natural and friendly.
Be Aware of Your Facial Expressions
We have all experienced a moment when we were in the middle of a conversation and we stopped to ask the person, “What does that look mean?” Whether you intend to or not, your facial expressions are going to impact your conversation. They can either leave your counterpart feeling confused or frustrated, or they can leave them feeling valued and appreciated. Try not to frown or wrinkle your forehead during a negotiation and focus on smiling and nodding in agreement when possible. Keep your chin up and your eyes level. You want your facial expressions to mimic the positivity that you are speaking.
Keep Your Body Calm
Just as you want the words you speak to exude truth, confidence, and calm during a negotiation, so should your body. If you are tapping your feet, shaking your leg, crossing and uncrossing your legs and arms, and moving your fingers, it will signal that you are nervous and stressed. Keep your arms and legs still and avoid fidgeting with your hands and fingers in order to present yourself and calm and collected. Limit your body movements to expression rather than fidgeting.
When it comes to negotiating, body language is just as important as the spoken word. People remember nearly 80% of information that is presented to them both orally and visually so it is imperative to be aware of your body language. Never forget the power of non-verbal cues and strive to convey strength and confidence through your body language.