“Never accept an environment that doesn’t serve you as your reality. In such situations, seek opportunities that might serve you better. Change your perception and you change your reality!” –Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
In body language and negotiations, if you see someone displaying a fist, that’s the time to see opportunities. That’s true in any aspect of your life and even more so in a negotiation.
In a negotiation, when a negotiator displays a fist they’re displaying several hidden thoughts. They’re exhibiting signs of angst and/or possibly fear, along with a narrower mindset. It’s also a sign that the other negotiator wants to alter the current environment in ways that might not be overly pleasant for you.
In such situations don’t cower. Instead, display a sense of calmness, self-assuredness, and commitment. You might even consider matching the tonality of the other person or lowering your tone; one action versus the other would depend on the person displaying the gesture, your relationship with that person, and where you would like to take the negotiation next.
The point is, when you see a negotiator display a fist, understand the thought process that’s going through his mind. If you display weakness at such times, you could be inviting more of the fist displaying behavior.
When such a display is brandished, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this a ploy to see how I’ll react?
- Is this an attempt to intimidate me?
- If this is an attempt to intimidate me, how might I respond to display his lack of effectiveness?
- What precipitated his behavior and is it founded?
- Should I apologize for a perceived infraction and if I do what effect will that have on the negotiation?
- What is he attempting to do with his fist gesture versus another gesture that might reveal his unhappiness?
- Have I missed a gesture(s) that I should have been more aware of and if I did, what might it/they be?
- Should I openly acknowledge his demeanor and what will that do to the negotiation?
- How might I assuage his behavior while displaying empathy and not letting him take advantage of me?
- What opportunities are now before me as the result of his current mindset?
When someone displays their fist, it’s usually a sign of aggression. Thus, you have to heighten your awareness to the factors mentioned above to assess why the display was made at this time and the effect that such a display has on the mental state of mind of that negotiator and the negotiation.
If you’re astutely attuned to such a gesture, you’ll realize that a mental shift has occurred. That shift can also give you an opportunity to control the negotiation. That’s true because at the point of the fist display, what you do after you see it will determine what occurs in the negotiation from that point.
So, in the future, when you see someone displaying a fist, don’t become afraid. Instead, consider what manner of control you’ll exercise to move the negotiation in the direction that serves your purpose. If done so masterfully, the other negotiator will apologize for his behavior. That will give you a greater sense of control because you’ll be in a position to be amicable by allowing him to amend his behavior via a concession or whatever serves you. For the time it last, he’ll be malleable. Use it to your advantage … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!