If you read again the title of this unit, you’d find out the definition of a skilled negotiator – someone who can communicate and also control their verbal and non-verbal signals. Body language is an ideal judge of people’s behavior and constitutes more than 50% of any communication.
As condensed and brief as possible, the 5 guidelines below point out almost all you should know:
1- Set a Benchmark: Body language is more or less universal, yet you can’t apply it to everyone equally. First, you have to understand the person in front of you. For that purpose, start a light conversation asking questions whose answers you already know. This helps you observe how others behave when not under pressure, so that you later develop a more accurate reading of their body language.
2- Learn the Basics: A quick online research will give you the meaning of common gestures. For example, leaning forward is agreement, leaning backwards is disagreement, nodding the head is approval, frowning the eyebrows is suspicion, and looking away is disinterest. Learning about these will help you both interpret the other’s response and control yours.
3- Defuse Tension: It is only natural that tension grows around the conflicting arguments during a negotiation. However, a positive mood is substantial for reaching an agreement, and it gives you the sense of power to be the one who gives back the conversation its positive vibes. Smile like you mean it, nod your head occasionally and maintain friendly eye contact.
4- Build Rapport: This is probably the best advice you would receive about running successful conversations. By nature, people feel safe and secure when surrounded with familiar things or people they feel they already know. The latter is your job. Gradually, try to mirror the person facing you, changing one gesture at a time until you are sitting and interacting exactly like them.
5- Relax Your Body: This most likely goes without saying, but probably you already feel tense finding out that you have to make all the above efforts other than already focus on what you want to say. In fact, a relaxed body does it all. It shows you’re confident, positive and reliable.
Learning body language is not a study you accomplish overnight or after a few tests. It is a continuous process of reading people and deeply understanding how every person is unique, but all of that all starts from knowledge. The more you read, the more you know, and the better you become. Good luck!!
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