According to the research in the book Silent Messages by Albert Mehrabian, 55% of communication is non-verbal. Another 38% of communication comes down to tone, which leaves a slim 7% for the substance of the words themselves.
“Your words matter, of course,” shares James Bell, CEO of James S Bell P.C. “But the knowledge of what your body language is conveying presents an enormous opportunity. If you can apply body language secrets to your next in-person pitch or meeting, you can boost your negotiating power and be at a considerable advantage.”
Here are four ways to do so.
1. Evaluate body positioning.
When someone is interested in what you have to say, they naturally lean in or move closer to you. And if they’re closed off, the opposite is true. If you notice that the other person is leaning away, ask them questions to understand their disinterest. And, use your own body to lean forward and show your interest in working with them.
2. Apply mimicry to make the other person feel safe.
Tanya Chartrand, a marketing professor at Duke University, has written extensively about her belief that engaging in mimicry with another person can boost someone’s sense that the other is persuasive and honest. So, if the person you’re speaking to takes a pause before speaking, imitate the same. If they frequently pick up their pen, frequently pick up your own. This will make them feel safer with you subconsciously. All of this is very subtle.
3. Smile with genuine joy … when it’s appropriate to do so.
Smiles have magical capabilities. They’re truly contagious and can actually make people trust you more.So, smile with genuine joy whenever it’s appropriate to do so during your negotiation interaction, even if it’s just when you first shake your counterpart’s hand. Appropriate timing is fundamental. Peter Carnevale, professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, has noted that an ill-timed smile can actually make you seem less cooperative.
4. Appear confident and relaxed.
Negotiating with someone who appears to be nervous and insecure can easily give you the upper hand. So, make sure that you walk into any negotiation with your shoulders back. Andres Lares, a managing partner for corporate consultants Shapiro Negotiations, has written about how the larger you can make your body presence with posture and a wide stance, the more authoritative and confident you look. This authoritative air grants greater credibility to your words/
Appearing to be relaxed goes hand in hand with appearing confident. Make sure not to fidget or do anything to indicate that you’re antsy, such as shaking your leg or frequently touching your face. Firmly plant your feet on the ground and remind yourself mentally every few minutes to pull your shoulders back.