“Do Not Be Fooled By Powerful Body Language In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“To become more knowledgeable, fear the unknown less.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Do Not Be Fooled By Powerful Body Language In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

What did you think when you saw or heard the title, “Do Not Be Fooled By Powerful Body Language In A Negotiation?” Did you have the sensation that a word was missing? Depending on whether you read or heard the title, initially, you may have had a different perspective of what was to follow. And you decided against continuing, or not, based on your perception.

Every day, you make thousands of decisions. The vast majority of them don’t engage your brain’s decision-making process. The actions that come from that procedure are automatic. And yet, most people are unaware of the role that body language and nonverbal language plays in that progression. Since those conclusions are part of the negotiation process, it’s essential to observe when they influence you. Such hidden signals impact your thoughts and actions. The following are highlights about what to be mindful of and how you can improve your negotiation efforts and outcomes.


When I tell you you’re always negotiating, my mantra, you may not know what that means. But once I explain it, your understanding increases per the meaning I give to those words – my definition of it is, what you do today impacts tomorrow’s opportunities – thus, you’re always negotiating. If you accept my intention, I’ve primed you to adopt the thoughts assigned to the phrase’s definition. That means you’ll act in a particular manner whenever you hear it.

Priming occurs in many forms. You must be aware that when you negotiate, it’ll dictate the activities you adopt. Some will be unconscious. And those hidden thoughts that stimulate you to adopt specific acts may not serve you. 

You might ask, how does this tie into body language. The answer is, body language and nonverbal communications can prime someone the same way as words. For example, if I held my hand up and my palm was facing you, you’d most likely associate that gesture with meaning, stop. You’ve been primed in other situations to understand that nonverbal gesture.

You can use such gestures to convey a strong sense of commitment to your offers in your negotiations. You can also use voice intonation to enhance your gestures. Thus, the body language gesture of the hand up, and palm facing the other negotiator, will send a strong message when accompanied by a robust sounding voice. To win more negotiations, consider how you’ll use priming to assist in your efforts.  

Verbal Language And Body Language

You and I are in a negotiation. At some point, I begin to say, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What are your thoughts about my intent, the reason I stated blah, all of those times? At that moment, more than likely, you’re not 100% sure why I did that. Now, let’s say a smile accompanied my words. Might you assume, depending on what’s occurred prior, that I was at least not intending to be harsh? That’s the value that body language adds to your words. You convey signals through your body language that enhances the substance you’re sharing.  

So, how might you enhance your message through body language when you negotiate? Here are a few ways to do that.


A smile can be very disarming. Thus, you can use it to soften a message that might otherwise become perceived as harsh or threatening. Conversely, the absence of it may have the opposite effect. Therefore, be mindful of how and when you use a smile to add meaning to your body language gestures.


Prosody is the rhythm that underlines language. It consists of the stress, intonation – rise and fall in your voice, and the pace of your speech. Accordingly, those variables also add meaning to your body language gestures during a negotiation. A negotiator may discount the seriousness of your statement if you don’t align it with your gestures. Therefore, to be perceived as more serious, match your message’s delivery pace with your gestures.     

Fidgeting, Handwringing, Neck Rubbing, Drumming Fingers

All of those body language gestures are signs of stress. They’re self-soothing signals. Thus, when someone commits those acts, they’re signaling an uncomfortableness about the discussion.

If you wish to strengthen your offers in a negotiation, avoid these gestures when you present it. Also, be aware of the other negotiator’s body language when he weighs the value of your offer. If he displays such gestures, and he’s not faking them, he has a degree of displeasure with your proposal.  

Pyramiding or Finger Steepling

This gesture consists of hands positioned like a church steeple or when someone might be praying. It suggests the person displaying the action is in a superior position. And that thought may only resonate in his mind. Nevertheless, that gesture can be a potent nonverbal signal to send if you wish to display confidence about your position. You can enhance it by slightly elevating your tone, pushing your chest out, and standing up if appropriate. Standing up when everyone is seated during a negotiation gives you the perception of dominance in the proceedings. Keep that in mind and use it to enhance your offers when appropriate.    


Your brain’s ability to read body language can tell you a lot about a person without them saying a word. Therefore, if you wish to communicate more succinctly in your negotiation, use succinct gestures to align your words. It will also help if you know your intent before speaking to ensure that alignment. Many communications occur through body language. Once you become better at displaying the right gestures, you’ll enhance your communications and negotiation outcomes. 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/

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