“Avoid Negotiation Failure – Body Language Advice – Proven Ways On How To Win More” – Negotiation Insight

“Everything becomes clearer, the clearer you understand someone’s body language signals.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Avoid Negotiation Failure – Body Language

Advice – Proven Ways On How To Win More”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you negotiate, do you consider how you can avoid negotiation failure by observing body language signals? People who discount themselves as avid negotiators do not calculate the value of using body language as an aid to enhance their haggling. And that sets them up for fewer positive negotiation outcomes.

Observing body language, which also consists of noting nonverbal communication, becomes an integral factor in increasing negotiation efforts. Consider the following advice about body language and how you can use it to avoid negotiation failure during your negotiation discussions.  

State Of Mind

Before you can accurately interpret a negotiator’s body gestures, you must possess a clear state of mind. Why? Because if you cloud your mind with biases, what you will perceive will be shaded by those self-perceptions. Thus, do not prejudge what you expect to see in someone’s body language. Instead, look for movements that are out of alignment with what someone says.

Problems Reading Body Language

As someone that train negotiators in corporations on how to negotiate better, by reading body language to increase their negotiation efforts, I’m surprised when some individuals tell me they have problems reading body language signals. When I probed to understand their challenges, I discovered shared threads in negotiators confronted by this challenge.  

1. They usually focused on what the other negotiator was saying during negotiations and missed how they delivered their message – the gestures and tonality that accompanied the words, along with facial displays. When negotiating, recognizing such actions, especially gesticulations that clammer for attention, allows one to glimpse the inner sanctum of an opponent’s mind. It is important to note that you could miss a more significant point if you miss smaller signals.

2. Those who considered missing signals less of a problem had a narrower view of not noticing such signs. Meaning, those negotiators were more attentive to body language movements, and they observed more signs than those that missed more subtle signals.

The lesson in points one and two are, pay attention to how someone makes pronouncements and the actions that tag along with their gestures when they speak. And in particular, note the pace of someone’s speech, their hesitancy to use one word versus another, and the assuredness that accompanies someone’s intimations when they speak. Their additional nonverbal messages will have meaning, and the actions accompanying those silent signals will give greater insight into the value their words possess.

Always be attentive to what a negotiator says but put more faith in how he makes his pronouncements and the actions accompanying his words. A negotiator who acts manic while speaking exhibits a different demeanor than one who might be calm. Do not let that fact escape you. That is what will help you avoid negotiation failure.

The Environment

No matter the environment you negotiate, you can gain clues to the level of commitment negotiators possess through their pronouncements. That also lends insights into their uncertainty and dedication to staying tied to their words. The additional information riding with their words, which may be unspoken or inaudible, occurs whether you and they are on the phone or in-person. Thus, gleaning such information from a negotiator’s body language will add value to your negotiation efforts regardless of where it occurs. And it will help you avoid negotiation failure.

The Phone

When negotiating over the phone, listen for a physical and mental change in the conversation’s pace. That can indicate the pondering of thoughts. Also, note when deep breathing, long breaths, and exaggerated exhalation occurs. That may signal anxiety. Just be mindful that such actions may be a ploy to make you think pondering and anxiety are happening. If you sense it is a ploy, push harder on your point and observe to what degree the actions become altered.  


When negotiating face-to-face, there are many more signals banting about than when you are on the phone. You may miss some of those signs due to bantering or other distractions that cause your mental observation to be abandoned by your mental alertness.

Listen to how people express their feelings and opinions. But pay more attention to how they are making their feelings and position known. Their delivery will be the degree of commitment, concern, or willingness to maintain their point of view. That will also give insight into how difficult or easy it may be to alter that person’s thinking.

Shifting Perspectives

Whether on the phone or in person, during negotiations, observe a shift in a negotiator’s perspective. While a negotiator may show that in the manner he speaks, as stated before, through tonality alteration and change in speech pace, even a slight shift in his perspective should warrant your attention. Because something has caused that change – and it might behoove you to investigate why it happened, so it does not create failure in the negotiation.  


Looking at others can be difficult if you see the dark side within them. But knowing the body language signals to observe will allow you to avoid the darkness as more light shines during your negotiations. That will make negotiations easier for you. 

Yes, you can see the world differently and avoid negotiation failure by committing to yourself to no longer being mired in the negotiation morass that prevents you from negotiating better. Do that by committing to learning more about putting the pieces together to reading body language. Not only will having that ability be helpful in your negotiation efforts, but it will also be beneficial in other aspects of your daily life. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/blog

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