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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 May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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