Taking Clues From Body Language

Body language is an important element in negotiation. Use it to convey your message to the other party, and read it to gain insight into what other people are thinking.

Paul Sutherland, author of "Buyer Representation from A to Z," says that about 57 percent of your message is received through body language, 36 percent through tone of voice, and only 7 percent through the actual words.

How can a salesperson tell if people are responding positively or negatively to an offer?

Sutherland: Look beyond the words. Facial expressions, seating posture, and the gaze of the eyes can speak volumes. Does the client appear bored or inattentive (no eye contact, looking around the room) or actively involved and cooperative (sitting forward, listening)? Repetitive gestures such as touching the hair, adjusting eyeglasses, or drumming fingers suggest that the client is feeling anxious while disagreement may be indicated by a person sitting back in the chair with arms folded.

How can a salesperson control body language to be a better negotiator?

Sutherland: Nonverbal messages evolve from an inner sense of self-esteem, so better body language must come from the inside. Salespeople should get comfortable with themselves, then their gestures will reflect that inner confidence. If salespeople want to be successful, they need to make certain that their body language, their words, and their tone of voice are all congruent.

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