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Negotiation Skills: “Face Read” your OpponentNegotiation Skills: “Face Read” your Opponent

20 Oct

In previous centuries, it was considered that one could tell a lot about a person simply by the structure of their face. The logic was that certain character traits were often found with people who all share the same facial features. For example, people who have square-shaped faces were considered thoughtful, intelligent and somewhat unique. In modern times, this practice is met with a lot of scepticism, and derided by many as ‘pseudo-science‘. Nevertheless, there is absolutely truth to the idea that a person can tell a lot about another person simply by looking at him or her.

This ability is not rooted in the structure of the face but rather the muscles, the tissue, and the emotions behind the face. The human face is capable of millions of subtle facial gestures – not just the big ones such as smiling wide – and these expressions can express emotions with a great complexity.

While it is true that some people who have personality disorders, such as autism, are unable to read these subtle expressions with accuracy, most people are able to understand them without conscious thought. This ability is a major part of understanding others and is so instinctive that it can seem to defy analytical thought. However, the truth is these expressions can be studied, and to great effect. Understanding what a person is trying to convey on gut instinct is one thing, but being able to read into their expressions consciously can be extremely advantageous in certain situations.

One such situation is negotiation: this is a scenario where one must be able to present themselves as coming from a stance that may not be entirely accurate, in order to get an advantage. It is also a psychological game of tactics, and therefore is exactly the kind of situation where being able to read and understand the true meaning of the opponent by ignoring their words and focusing on their face is beneficial. This ability may come more naturally to some than others, but it is something that can be studied and used to positive effect by just about anybody.

The first thing that should be understood is what certain skin colours may indicate. The opponent in a negotiation may be projecting confidently with their words, but the colours of their face may be saying something entirely different. For example, if they have particularly red cheeks, this can indicate that they are feeling the pressure, are angry, or otherwise flustered about their inability to conduct themselves in a way that they think is productive. Just knowing that the opponent is feeling insecure can bring a great sense of confidence, which alone is enough to bring about a victory. Interestingly, a face that has hints of blue may indicate the opposite in terms of body temperatures, but it announces the same hidden emotion – fear.

It will come as no surprise that the most important part of reading a person’s face is noticing eye movement. Where the opponent looks, and how they look, is very important in understanding their level of confidence in their words. If they are making firm eye contact, one can be sure that they are secure in their stance and are unlikely to back down unless they are beaten on words and logic alone. If the person continues to focus downwards, this indicates anxiety and something that can be seen as real weakness. If your opponent does not feel confident in themselves, this allows you to take advantage.

Be aware that some opponents will be attempting to circumvent these signals, so for an important debate you may need to do your research. Someone who seems to be holding your gaze for too long may in fact be trying to appear confident and project that they are telling the truth by overcompensating. This is a very difficult thing to do successfully – not many people are good liars – so if you notice a strange change in how your opponent catches your gaze or not, then this will indicate something is up.

In a tough negotiation, it is going to be too much for most opponents to cover up all of their feelings that are projecting on their face, so look for the basic signals. If they raise their eyebrow, they are finding your words hard to believe. Pursing of the mouth signals they are not in agreement with what you are saying. Leaning towards you or nodding indicates you are pushing the right button, and they are coming around to your way of thinking.

The study of face reading may come naturally to some, but it is something that everybody must study deeply to fully understand what all of the complex features of the face are saying in various situations and contexts.

This post was contributed by thegappartnership.com

 

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