Words communicate between 25 to 35 percent of the sentiments conveyed by negotiators in a negotiation. The rest of their positions are communicated through body language.
Therefore, more of a negotiator’s perspective is displayed in the way he uses his body when stating his position. As an example, a negotiator states that he lends his full support to a position. You note him leaning back, covering his mouth with his hand, closing one or both eyes, and making his pronouncement in a stilted manner.
If he displays such nonverbal gestures, you should question his sincerity. The body never lies, but people will commit to actions that attempt to hide the truth when they lie. The body will display signals that highlight the fact that it is covering a lie. You can become a better negotiator by becoming knowledgeable about the signals a body displays when lies are being told.
Synchronize body language to negotiate successfully
Your body language conveys your thoughts. That’s not a revelation. What may come as a revelation is the fact that you can assist in how you’re perceived through your body language by controlling the body language signals you emit.
First, consider the image you wish to project and the role that your body language will play. Then determine how you will cast the role which you’ll play during the negotiation. In so doing, try implementing the following suggestions.
1. Set the stage: Assess what the proper body language should be for the situation in which you’ll be negotiating. Be sure to dress, speak, and display the appropriate mannerisms for that environment. If the negotiation is held in your environment, be sure it reflects the theme you’re projecting. That is to say, if you are trying to project the image of someone that lacks financial substance, as the result of trying to get a lower price, don’t negotiate while wearing a Rolex, or in a posh environment. Attire yourself in a more modest manner and have the negotiation in a less austere environment.
2. Stay on message: Determine what your most important position will be. Then, during the negotiation, if you wish to be perceived as being very focused, stay on point and align your body language to highlight that position. Regardless of the rebuttals you receive from the other negotiator, drive the focus of the negotiation back to your main point. Use body language – verbal and nonverbal communications – to assist in this effort. State your position and don’t move far from it, unless the other negotiator makes sufficient concessions.
3. During the negotiation: Apply the appropriate body language signals (facial, hand, feet, and other body language expressions) throughout the negotiation. Stern facial expressions, coupled with steepled hands (as in a church steeple) when conveying the degree that you believe your position has validity, will add to your power. Steepled hands will also subliminally cast you as an authority in the subject matter upon which you speak. Use softer gestures (smiling with hands open/apart) to express the signal that you might be open to modifying a segment of your position.
The more consistent you are about synchronizing your body language with your negotiation position, the more your position will be perceived as being important. Such perception will occur at a conscious and subliminal level within the other negotiator. If done appropriately, you’ll be in a better position from which to negotiate.
Greg Williams is the author of this post. He is known as The Master Negotiator. Sharpen your negotiation skills and ability to read body language by getting the digital download of Greg Williams’ webinar Superpower Your Ability to Negotiate: How to Read Body Language. Get the ondemand online training here.