6 Body Language Tips for Negotiations

  • Improve your standing and influence at the next round of negotiations!

Experienced negotiators know the words a person says around the negotiation table are far less important than how those words are delivered. They recognize that body language can play a huge role in how negotiations go, and have noted that skilled negotiators work hard to present a confident, charismatic picture. People are hardwired to react to visual cues, and understanding how to appear confident and strong goes a long way in negotiation.

Some visual cues have become well known, such as crossed arms indicating a closed-off person. A few of the other cues that may prove useful in negotiations are listed and explained in more detail below:

  • Stand up straight and take up space. 

Keeping your back straight and your head up is the best way to send a message of self-assurance and alertness. By taking up space, you send a message of authority and power to those around you. Learning to project authority is an important part of negotiation training. While standing or giving a presentation, move around to make your physical presence larger and keep your stance wide while standing still.

  • Keep a wide stance

Keeping your feet spread apart and your body weight centered will give others the impression of your power and confidence. You will appear solid and steady, and no matter the situation, others will perceive you as being at ease.

  • Maintain eye contact 

While too much eye contact can be seen as somewhat unnerving, it is always better to make frequent and intentional eye contact with your audience. Whether negotiating with a group of people or only one person, make and keep eye contact, especially when explaining key issues or important points.

  • Use positive hand gestures 

Most people, when giving a presentation or explaining an issue, use their hands to illustrate the point. Whether this is by keeping track of listed points by counting them on their fingers or by using hand motions to simulate the actions of what is being discussed, hand movements are often underappreciated.

When negotiating, it is important to use positive hand gestures while eschewing any nervous ticks or habitual hand movements that take away from your power image. For example, folding your hands together in a pleading fashion is a nervous habit some employ to stop their hands from shaking. Steepling your fingers, however, sends the message that what you are about to say is of vast importance, and makes you seem more calm and collected.

  • Smile 

Smiling is the easiest way to put another person at ease and will often make you more memorable in a positive light. This is because smiling at a person usually leads to their smiling back at you, and the act of smiling often triggers happy feelings. By smiling at someone you can make them feel happy, which will in turn cause them to associate those happy feelings with seeing you.

  • Lower your vocal pitch

People with higher pitched voices may often be seen as more nervous and less powerful than those who speak in a lower register, and are thus viewed as less empathetic and not as trustworthy. Consider, for example, the voice of James Earl Jones. Any character played by him in film instantly becomes viewed as a powerful force with which to be reckoned.

By employing these non-verbal cues, you will improve your standing and influence at the next round of negotiations. You can quickly transform from a mere observer of negotiations to the most powerful person in the room based simply on your body language.

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