Negative Example: Mr X crooked his wrist and slumped his head sideways, crashing it into the open palm of his right hand.
Positive Example: Mr X came around from behind his desk walking boldly towards his visitor. The barrier of furniture had been dissolved and Mr X met the gaze of the salesman with a disarming confidence.
Body language can betray or confirm your words. An employee can leave his hopes of a pay rise at the door if during the review he sits slouched with his legs strewn out under his boss’ desk or even in more discreet ways fails to present himself as assertive and capable. Fortunately one can boost their chances with a few tips.
1) Don’t touch your neck
The neck is a vulnerable area. So don’t touch it. If you are rubbing the back of your neck, lightly pinching your Adam’s apple or doing other inventive neck activity this is likely to lead someone to mistrust you or communicate that obvious fact that you are uncomfortable. You will be unable to strong arm that cockney car salesman as he will jump at the signal his helpless prey has just fired off.
2) Firm handshake
This is essential. There are few things far worse, excluding flatulence, than a flimsy moist handshake. Bill Clinton claimed he always endeavored to meet the web between the thumb and index finger. This is usually a reliable technique. However a firm handshake is not a vice grip. It is about being expressive not aggressive (not physically at least)
3) Mr. Mime
Professor Michael Wheeler from Harvard Business School observed that “after two or more people have been in each other’s presence for just a few minutes, their behavior begins to subtly converge…breathing patterns and heart rates sync up, and they also tend to mimic each other’s posture and hand gestures.” Emulation is a sign of flattery. It shows the other party you are at ease and are subconsciously in agreement with them. This is a useful negotiating tool as often it is about aligning your interests with that of another.
During the presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both men made use of physical contact. Obama shook hands with Romney and placed his other hand high on Romney’s shoulder. Analysts speculate that this is a gesture of control. It is also one of affection and can melt the corporate armour of the suit jacket. We touch a persons arm to guide them, to show pity, to reassure them. By doing the same in negotiation we tap into all such associations at once.
To be a good negotiator implies control over a situation. You cannot be in a position of control if you’re twiddling your thumbs, licking your lips whilst impatiently waggling your feet. It will put the other person on edge and scream incompetence. Relax and sit calmly. If you’re going to make any gestures, time them and execute them with conviction.
If you’re sitting down, sit up and look interested. While you might not need to lunge across the table attacking the space with your elbows it is equally bad to tilt your head back and gaze at the ceiling. If you’re standing, pin those shoulders back to avoid the slouch, pronounce that chest and revert back to a primitive form of masculinity. Just don’t bash on your chest or make any gorilla roars.
You’re a warm approachable and honest person. Well if you’re not that, at least this should help create that image. One part of business is about transparency, it is simply not desirable to enter any negotiations with a deceitful agent, and people prefer to be assured of credibility. A smile goes a long way here: it tells the other party that you are at ease, unstressed, and personable. In turn they may feel at ease and negotiations can continue untrammeled.
A last note on body language is that all the above can never look too contrived. Body language must be natural otherwise you risk walking around like a creepy robot or unnerving people with mistimed touchy feely gestures.
This article was supplied by Josh Hervall, a keen blogger and negotiation enthusiast. He writes for www.thegappartnership.com, experts in Business Negotiation Training.