In life, same as in business, everything is about negotiations. You do it everyday. It could be negotiating a contract for a new job, a better salary, a loan from your bank, shopping at a flea market, or simply negotiating with your spouse about what to watch on Netflix tonight. Negotiation is an unavoidable part of life… and not always a pleasant one.
When negotiating, each party wants to give the illusion of control so they can have the upper hand. And we all wish we could know what the other is thinking or feeling. Are they going into the negotiation feeling confident? Are they firm on their offer or are they willing to compromise? Are you happy with the offer that is on the table? If only we knew the answers to these questions, then we could more confidently and accurately determine our next action.
Luckily, it is possible to read the person in front of you. They all give off non-verbal cues that can help you determine what the other person is thinking and/or feeling. Regardless of their poker face. In fact, our non-verbal actions speak much louder than our words. I was really surprised when I first learned that 55% of communication is nonverbal, 38% of communication is tone of voice, and only 7% of communication comes from the words we say.
Reading the face
If you feel that the face made does not match the words spoken, it is very likely that they do not master the subject or that they do not feel convinced by what you say. Someone sure of himself will have facial expressions that match the words. For example, I’m sure once or twice your spouse told you that (s)he hated you, but with a nice smile and a little redness on their cheeks. Which means he doesn’t mean (s)he really hates you. The words must match the face.
The use of hands
Hands say a lot about a person. For example, someone who touches their face, nose, ears or chin a lot can mean that they are lying or insecure, destabilized.
Also in a meeting, face to face at a desk or table, if the person clasps their hands behind their head and leans back, that’s a negative gesture. It is a gesture of arrogant confidence. It is too strong a gesture to do in a room with only two people. It means that they think they are better than you, not realizing that it diminishes their real importance. It can be an attribute of a person with a poorly managed ego (or bluff!). It opens many windows of opportunity to win the negotiation.
The use of the arms
When you look at their arms, notice if they are crossed or uncrossed. Remarkably, if their arms are not crossed and they use them gesturally to speak, they are quite confident, even open to discussion.
Then there is the “arms crossed” situation. There are few ways to cross them. And they all mean very different positions.
- Having their arms crossed with their hands and fingers visible is usually fine. It means that they are thinking, analyzing the words and the non-verbal cues.
- However, if their arms are crossed but you can’t see their hands or fingers, it’s a defensive position. Negotiations will be difficult because the person isn’t exactly open to conversations (yet). It doesn’t mean you can’t win though.
- A bonus: check (if you can) if they have both arms and legs crossed. Don’t waste your time on this one. It is a double shielding of the person. You won’t be able to get anything out of him/her unless you have a hidden card up your sleeve.
Our body should always look where our mind wants to go. Which means that you should always face your counterpart with your shoulders squared in front of them.
If my body isn’t looking directly at him/her, it could mean my mind isn’t focused on him/her either. It could mean I’m in a hurry, I don’t want to be here, I have something more important to do.
Plus, you should know by now, when someone leans forward, he’s interested. When they lean back, they are not.
Read also:Does it take 99 “no’s” to get a “yes”?