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The Impact of Body Language in Negotiations

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Whether you are negotiating for a raise, time off, or the sale of a new product, every word and movement in a negotiation is crucial. Most people know to choose their words carefully while negotiating, but body language is often forgotten. The way we toss our head, flail our hands and crisscross our legs all influence negotiations in distinctive ways, so using the right body language is vital to success.

Copycat for Success

Researchers often find that the longer two people are in the same room, the more they mimic each other’s body language and gestures. For example, you might come into your supervisor’s office to negotiate a raise and find that after twenty minutes, you’re both leaning back with your legs crossed. Most people feel silly when they realize this is happening or worry that mimicry will make them look like they are brownnosing, so they stop doing it.

Researchers, however, tend to agree that mimicry is positive. Mimicking someone else’s body language or gestures, even unconsciously, shows a desire to build rapport. Additionally, most people find that clients who mimic them are more persuasive and honest than those who do not.

Stay Constructive

If you negotiate frequently, chances are you will eventually come across someone who you find challenging to converse with. This person may ask you the same type of questions over and over. He or she may pronounce a common word in a way that annoys you or unconsciously drum his or her fingers on the table. No matter the behavior, it can be difficult to hide your irritation.

 

Researchers have performed studies to determine whether people can hide their reactions to emotionally charged images. The studies found that although discomfort is difficult to hide, untrained observers do not often detect it. In other words, your client may not realize his finger-drumming distracts you, or your boss may not realize you’re nervous during a meeting. That being said, experts recommend that you stay as constructive as possible. Use neutral body language, and phrase criticisms constructively.

 

Have a Handshake

 

For decades, experts have advised employees to maintain a firm, warm handshake. While firm handshakes are still preferable, handshakes of any kind make people feel comfortable and respected. If you can’t grip someone’s hand as firmly as a colleague, or if your hands are naturally cold, don’t despair. The fact that you made the gesture will show the other person you are serious about negotiations and care what they have to say.

 

Keep Eye Contact

 

Eye contact is difficult for many people. In fact, some people from countries outside the US may find it offensive. However, good eye contact is key for US and Canadian negotiations. Maintain it to show your honesty and interest in the other person. Try not stare or focus too long on one point. This can be interpreted as aggression. Feel free to look away while thinking or deciding how to word something. If you naturally have trouble with eye contact – for example, you are from a culture that frowns on it – let the other person know. That way, he or she won’t assume you’re being evasive.

 

If you would like more tips, you can visit us online to find out about negotiation training.

What Does Your Body Language Say about You?

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There are tons of different studies, statistics, and anecdotal lessons on the emotive impact of body language. According to the overwhelming majority of research and statistics,  body language makes up the largest portion of communication. Most studies show that roughly 70% of communication doesn’t even come out of a person’s mouth, but through their body. What’s interesting is that body language is really just communicating what the mind is really thinking. The body normally responds to the subconscious mind and innately mirrors those conditions in order to communicate what is going on internally. There are plenty of people who write off the power of body language and prefer to listen purely to what a person is saying alone. However, a person has time to think and construct their sentences. They are able to work more out of their ego and shut their mouths if they don’t want to talk. However, it is virtually impossible for a person to shut down their body language without communicating zombie-like behavior. Even when people are quietly listening to someone else in a conversation, they are still communicating with their body language, demeanor and facial expressions. This type of non-verbal communication happens whether they want it to or not. For this reason, many people are fascinated with mastering the interpretation of body language. This is also the reason why many women read tons of articles about romantic body language because they want to know what their men are truly thinking. When people are operating in a business setting, body language is incredibly important because it can play a major role in whether a person experiences success or not. For the business setting, there are two major types of body language: strong and weak. This two types communicate the mind, and the emotional state of the person speaking.Body Language-01

 

Strong Body Language

Strong body language is characterized by a few different components. When a person imagines a symbol of strength, it isn’t difficult to think of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. They are visibly strong with large, lean muscular builds. They are able to spread their arms and defy gravity and space. They each maintain their own presence and make it clear when they enter a room. The majority of these characteristics are communicated on the pages of comic books through depictions of strong body language. In the business setting, people with strong body language usually emit a palpable presence. Whether they are short or tall, they seem to take up space in the room. They will tend to sit in the front and center of a room, and during a discussion, they are the ones most likely to visibly assert themselves and dominate the conversation. When a person with strong body language enters the room, people take notice. People with strong body language have great posture. They stand with their shoulders back and keep their head up. They usually use their hands for gestures and can command control of the room through engaging body language during a discussion. During a business meeting that involves negotiation, strong body language is vital because strength communicates confidence and a person’s ability to win an argument. People are more likely to trust a strong mind and not a weak one.

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Weak Body Language

Weak body language obviously communicates the exact opposite of its counterpart. Instead of looking like some of the great superheroes, people with weak body language end up mirroring turtles. They are seen mimicking symbols of frailty. People who exude weak body language often shrink in a room. They are much more inclined to pull their bodies close to themselves and take up as little space as possible. They try their best to make sure they’re not seen or heard. They also tend to recluse and disengage during a conversation. They may touch their necks and pull their arms closer to their bodies. These non-verbal cues send the message that a person prefers to be less engaged and is intimidated in a specific setting. People with weak body language also don’t want to sit in an area that will draw attention. They prefer to sit in the corners and if they have a point during a discussion, it is very difficult for them to assert themselves over others. When they are looking to be called on in a classroom setting, they may raise their hands slightly, but the gesture is so small that it can easily go unnoticed by a professor or fellow classmates. The weak body language communicates a person’s lack of confidence in their ability to eloquently deliver their perspective to their colleagues.

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Fake It Until You Become It

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy delivered an excellent presentation at TED Global where she discussed the power of body language on success. She noted that in corporate settings, the majority of people who communicate powerful body language are usually men. Women are more likely to display weak body language. Women are often cast in social settings as the weaker sex, so there’s no surprise that this translates into business settings. As a woman of influence, she encourages women (and men) to learn to change their mindset in order to display powerful body language. The mind is so powerful because a person’s thoughts become their actions. Cuddy suggests a few practices to help transform the mind for success. She encourages the practice of power poses and positive affirmations. Power poses include stances with hands on hips with feet firmly planted in the ground or arms in the air as if they’re arriving at the finish line of a marathon. For example, a person who is going on a major job interview should prepare to get there a few minutes earlier than expected. Upon arriving at the building, a person should go to a private bathroom stall and give themselves a two-minute pep talk. While they mentally strengthen themselves, they should also stand in the power poses. This may sound bizarre, but her research proved that these tactics can literally help to change the trajectory of an interview.

Even though it may feel a bit silly to practice the poses and techniques, it is important to continue to practice them until it feels less awkward. These strategies can subliminally change the mind and encourage a person to begin thinking powerfully. Once a person’s mind is powerful, their body language will follow suit! So, strike a pose!