Body language is a non verbal way of communicating and during face to face negotiations, it can speak miles. When we talk about communication, the first medium that comes to mind is our use of words. It is what has always separated us from other species, as we’ve developed a more intellectual and definite way of relaying our thoughts to one another. Not to mention opposing thumbs. As we use language everyday, it evolves every passing moment, adapting to our ever changing culture, popular trends and international influences.
While it is the most commonly used means of communication, it still pales in authenticity and genuineness when compared to body language. This is precisely why when we say one thing, our movements and even the tone of voice greatly affects how the other perceives the information. Sometimes our body language gives us away and can change the desired message. More often than not, a mere gesture is a lot louder than the spoken word.
If anything, the influence of body language dates as far back as our primitive period. Before we even created words, all we had to use were expressions and movements to communicate. The benefits go both ways, as we are able to communicate our own thoughts and feelings while others are able to understand us better and react to it. This is probably the reason why a slight shift in position says a lot more than words, and it still is true today.
This being said, such non-verbal communication is essential in everyday discourse, and a face-to-face negotiation is no exception. As a matter of fact, such cues could make or break the interaction and the deal altogether. Here are some pointers to remember when sending out subtle signals.
In a personal interaction, the first impression is always what lasts. This is why confidence at the onset should be of paramount importance. You can show this to the other party by standing tall with shoulders back, maintain a serious yet friendly eye contact, speak slowly and clearly with a moderate tone of voice, and remain purposeful with your gestures. Slouching, fidgeting, and talking in a fast paced manner are telltale signs of unpreparedness, so you should be conscious that you avoid them.
Defensiveness is also easily seen, and you must react to it accordingly. Some signs showing uneasiness are when you see the gestures are limited to a small space near the body, minimal facial expressions, body turning away from the other party, crossed arms, and lack of eye contact.
When you see these cues in the other person, it is time to adjust the way you communicate to make them feel comfortable and be more receptive. On the other hand, if these are things that you are doing, you need to quickly recover from it or you may end up sending the wrong signals.
Lastly, answering questions need not be prompt. You may show the other person that you are thinking intently, and that’s a positive thing. This can be demonstrated by finger stroking on chin, hand to cheek, or head tilted with eyes looking up. These gestures don’t mean you don’t know what to say, but rather that you want to ponder on matters before jumping in.
As always, every person is different, but these are some of the most common indications. Being observant with your own body language is a key skill that you will need to be an effective communicator.