Social cues are a critically important aspect of communication. They are feelings and emotions that are expressed through body language, tone, and facial expressions and they are intended to send a message. These nonverbal cues help guide us through interactions with others and having the ability to understand and interpret social cues can greatly improve your skills as a communicator and negotiator. It will allow you to read the other person’s behavior and respond accordingly. Here are a few social cues to look for when you are trying to close the deal in a negotiation.
During a negotiation, eye contact is a critical social cue. It is even more important when you are closing the deal because it shows that the other party is actively listening. It is equally important for you to make eye contact with your counterpart, as this shows you are confident in your ability and you mean what you say.
Be conscious of your counterpart’s facial expressions throughout the negotiation, as these social cues can signal different things. A furrowed brow, for example, is an indication that the person is confused or annoyed by what you are saying. If you happen to notice this cue, assume they are confused and look for another way to explain yourself.
Just as darting eyes can signal disinterest, fidgeting can be a sign of anxiety. If you notice your counterpart fidgeting during the negotiation, chances are they are uncomfortable and anxious about the conversation. For example, if you are talking to someone and they begin to play with their hair, shift from one foot to another, or start playing with their hands, this is a universal sign of discomfort. Either they are losing interest or they are uneasy about the conversation. At this point, be sure and clarify any misunderstandings and give them a chance to ask questions or chime in. Likewise, be aware of your own fidgeting so as not to signal nervousness.
A smile is one of the most common and important social cues. People generally smile when they are happy or amused so this is typically a good sign when you are closing a deal. If your counterpart is smiling, it’s safe to assume they are happy with the deal.
If your counterpart begins crossing their arms as they listen to you, they might be preparing a defensive stance. Crossed arms can signal displeasure, anger, or frustration, so be watchful for this behavior.
Moving Closer or Farther Away
You can communicate with your body just as effectively as you can with your words. For instance, if you lean in to hug someone and they back away, they are telling you they don’t want you to hug them. During a negotiation, you might notice the other person lean in closer as you speak. This signals that they are interested in what you are saying and they want to know more. Conversely, if they begin backing away, it’s a sign that they disagree or have lost interest in the conversation. Watch for this movement so you know how and when to adjust your pitch.