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Essential Body Language for Negotiation

Essential Body Language for Negotiation

    In a consumer-driven society, human interaction is essential to sustaining economic success. How we communicate with each other determines how we live our lives and build relationships. Negotiation and communication are necessary skills in any relationship. Learning to control the signals you are sending with your body is a great way to ensure you will always get your point across clearly and without confusion. Regardless of what medium people use to interact and connect on (i.e. social media, email, text messaging, or face-to-face conversation), body language is used in every form of communication.

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    Reading Body Language

    When it comes to personal happiness and success, it’s important to recognize how body language influences our interactions. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how prepared you are to engage in negotiations if you don’t understand what the other person’s posture is telling you. Here are some cues to help you decipher your partner’s, or opponent’s, body language.

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    • Identify a Baseline: Baselining involves observing people when they’re not under pressure. While interaction and discussing topics informally, ask several questions to which you are already familiar with the answers. Observe your partner’s behavior and body language as they answer the questions in a calm, honest, and relaxed state of being. Identifying a baseline aids in correctly interpreting body language during negotiations.
    • Hunt for “Gesture Clusters”: Gesture clusters are nonverbal cues disguised in a set of movements, actions, or even postures that emphasize a certain point of view. During negotiations, be aware of the three key nonverbal signals: engagement actions, disagreement actions, and tension cues.
      • Engagement Actions: (head nods, forward leans, eye contact) These represent and point out interest and agreement.
      • Disagreement Actions: (leaning back, frowning, looking away) Indicate disinterest, annoyance, suspicion, and possibly boredom.
      • Tension Cues: (face-touching, firmly crossed ankles, high vocal-tone) Define clear signs of discomfort and show that your partner isn’t satisfied with how things are being handled or dealt with.

    Controlling Your Body Language

    In order to find a compromise during negotiations, it’s essential for you to have power over your own body language. If your end goal is to find a reasonable agreement, incorporate these nonverbal gestures to ensure that you are sending the right signals.

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    • Nod Your Head: Even when you’re in the middle of a disagreement or being harshly criticized, nod your head and maintain eye contact. This nonverbal cue defuses tension and leads to alignment, especially during contentious conversations.
    • Make Eye Contact: During a negotiation, look someone in the eye as much as possible, especially if they are speaking, because it shows that you’re listening. Individuals who feel that their concerns have been validated and addressed are more likely to be open to negotiating. Moreover, looking someone in the eye is also the best way to let them know that you are confident in their convictions and mean what you say.
    • Smile Like You Mean It: Smiling is always a good sign during negotiations. Staying positive is essential to smiling because it aids in clear and effective thinking. The party you’re negotiating with will be more receptive toward what you’re saying, while simultaneously indicating that you’re open to their ideas too.
    • Keep Yourself Open: Keep yourself pleasant and appealing. Lean in, be engaged in the conversation, and keep an open stance. Be prepared by setting more boundaries than you actually have to give yourself more room to give and take. Set three times as many expectations as you think you need to show you’re not stubborn or desperate to strike a deal.
    • Mimic the Other Party: People respond better psychologically to those they feel are similar to them in certain manners. Building short term trust with someone – a necessity for successful negotiations – requires mirroring your opponent’s behavior. Take note of their body language when they speak and respond to them with the same enthusiasm.
    • Control Your Hands: When you’re negotiating, make sure your hands project confidence and poise. Shaky or awkward hand gestures indicate nervousness and stress, allowing your counterpart to take advantage of the situation. To remain in control, don’t clasp your hands together or fidget. Instead, place your hands just below your chest and put your fingers together when you want to make a point confidently.
    • Relax Your Body: Any gestures that indicate you’re anxious or worried will demonstrate to your opponent that something is wrong. Plant your feet firmly on the ground to show your resolve and remain confident. Your counterpart has to see that you’re calm and self-assured. You have to adopt a relaxed body position in order to reduce the tension. To lead your partner toward relaxation, combine your body’s posture with soft-spoken, non-aggressive remarks. Be patient explaining things in negotiations because topics that are obvious to you may be foreign to them. By doing this, you’ll gain your counterpart’s trust, ensuring a better result.
    • Keep A Poker Face: It’s a common misconception that being a good negotiator involves a smart mouth and a quick tongue. A good poker face, however, is essential to being successful in negotiations. The best negotiators do their homework and support their needs with strong data and facts, but never show their hand.

    Negotiating successfully is about more than just saying the right thing. Reading and controlling body language in a negotiation is critical if you want to get a good deal. You can always use body language to your advantage as you observe your counterpart. Now that you know what mixed signals to look for, expose their weakness. Take advantage of the situation and settle on an excellent bargain to gain the upper hand. It’s all about reading between the lines, right? Good luck!

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    Last Updated on March 14, 2019

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

    For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

    Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

    1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

    A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

    It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

    It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

    How it helps you:

    If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

    Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

    2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

    Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

    Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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    How it helps you:

    Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

    Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

    If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

    Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

    3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

    Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

    Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

    How it helps you:

    This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

    For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

    Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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    A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

    4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

    To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

    A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

    How it helps you:

    One word: hierarchy.

    All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

    In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

    If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

    5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

    Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

    Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

    How it helps you:

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    Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

    If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

    This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

    6. What do you like about working here?

    This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

    Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

    How it helps you:

    You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

    Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

    Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

    7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

    What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

    As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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    How it helps you:

    What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

    First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

    Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

    Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

    Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

    Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

    Making Your Interview Work for You

    Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

    Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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    Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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