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Read Body Language to Negotiate Successfully

» Introduction
Reading body language when you negotiate can be very insightful and very beneficial. It gives the negotiator that can interpret the thoughts and gestures of his negotiation opponent an additional advantage. Once you’re able to read body language, with a high degree of accuracy, you’ll be on your way to achieving more favorable negotiation outcomes.
» Step 1
Reading body language when you negotiate can be very insightful and very beneficial. It gives the negotiator that can interpret the thoughts and gestures of his negotiation opponent an additional advantage. Once you’re able to read body language, with a high degree of accuracy, you’ll be on your way to achieving more favorable negotiation outcomes.

In my writings I’ve outlined the value of observing non verbal signals, also called body language, when negotiating. Many have asked, what does it really take to become keen at reading body language? To which I’ve responded, it takes practice, good observation skills, the ability to listen more than you speak, and a willingness and desire to really get good at reading body language.

I’m sure you’ve experienced situations when you knew what someone was going to say, before they said it. How did that occur? How were you able to tap into their mental state of mind and extract the thought they were about to pronounce, before they spoke? It occurred as the result of you being mentally synchronized with that individual. I’m sure you’ve also heard someone say to you, I had a feeling you were going to say that. A feeling … what aura were you generating to allow someone to hear your unspoken thought, to see into the hidden chambers of your mind, to experience that kinesthetic connection, before your announcement?

As we think about what we’re in the process of conveying to someone else, our bodies prepare to deliver that message by going through and evaluation of how that message will be delivered. At that point, in a nanosecond, our bodies go through the process of mentally delivering the message and imagining the response. All of this happens, literally, at the speed of thought. I’m sure at times in your life you’ve been told to hide your feelings and at other times, don’t hide your feelings. Your feelings about a subject convey emotions and your emotions can be read when you negotiate.

Years ago, I participated in a study that pointed out the ease with which you can tap into someone’s thoughts and emotions by observing their body language. In that study, two individuals sat straight up facing one another, with their knees approximately a few inches from each other. The first subject was instructed to close her eyes and mentally enact a situation, with the degree of realism as though that situation was really occurring. The second subject was instructed to mimic the actions of the first person, which included breathing to the same rhythm of the first person. After a short period of time, in most cases, the second subject was able to feel and announce with a high degree of accuracy, what the first subject was experiencing. I walked out of that study thinking, ‘Wow that was mind expanding.’

Below are two exercises you can practice to enhance your ability to become more perceptive and enhance your ability to read body language …

· Sit in a quiet environment and listen to the sounds around you. Take note of what you hear and see. You may be thinking if the environment is quiet, I’m not going to hear anything. That’s not true. Even though there’s quietness in the environment, there are still sounds to be heard. Can you hear them? Once you begin to hear the sounds of quietness, your listening skills will become sharper and your negotiation skills will become keener.

· In a very noisy and active environment, focus on one conversation or activity that is slightly out of your hearing range, but close enough that you can make out some of the conversation that’s occurring between the participants. See how well you can focus on that situation while blocking out other activities and noises going on around you. Once you’re able to mentally hone your observation skills, to the degree that you can block out all of the external noises around you, your observation skills will begin to become more impeccable.


Once you become good at deciphering the unspoken word that conveys a hidden meaning, you’ll be on your way to getting more out of every negotiation session. You’ll also notice that your negotiation outcomes will become more favorable to all parties involved … and everything will be right with the world.


The negotiation lessons are …

· Before your very next big negotiation session, take the time to learn how to read body language more accurately. The benefit of doing so lies in the outcome.

· When you negotiate allow your negotiation partner the opportunity to look inside your mind by showing him your mental makeup. If you show your state of mind through your body language and he observes it accurately, he’ll think he’s uncovering an advantage. The thought then becomes who’s really at an advantage. The answer is, you are, because you know the purpose of your thought and in which direction you wish the negotiation to travel.

· Make reading body language a game. Play it often and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your abilities will be enhanced and the benefits you’ll reap at the negotiation table.

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