When it comes to stress in negotiations, it’s shown in one’s body language. So, what causes stress in a negotiation? What should you observe to denote the level of stress via someone’s body language? The answers to those questions will lead you to winning more negotiations.
Jack was being interviewed by Jill. He wondered, will she like me, as he constantly tugged at his shirt collar throughout the interview. Each time he did, Jill wondered why he was so nervous. She wondered if he was hiding something. She thought, I’d better do a thorough background check on him before I extend an offer.
Stress From Anxiety:
Stress from anxiety can stem from a lack of preparedness, the fear of being out-negotiated by the opposing negotiator, or any other abnormality that serves to indicate a disbelief about where one is mentally, versus the comfort that one would experience if that person was in a better mental space.
In such situations, the body language you might observe are thrumming of fingers, looking around with wide eyes, and/or the constant shifting of physical positions (seated or standing). These actions serve as a form of release until comfort can be obtained. Thus, the actions emitted are an attempt to provide the relief from the environment.
Stress From Lying:
In a negotiation, people may lie so as not to divulge their negotiation position, make themselves appear more of what they wish they were, ingratiate themselves, etc. One way to discern to what degree the truth is being spoken is by asking the same question several times throughout the negotiation and comparing the response to what was stated earlier. To the degree the answers change, the measure of influence the lie has will be revealed.
You might observe eye rubbing, touching the nose/ear/covering mouth, etc. These actions indicate an attempt to not see the lie, keep perspiration under control, and/or hold back the lie by covering one’s mouth.
Stress Based On Outcome Sought:
When you sense that someone is under stress based on the outcome they seek, you can test your hypothesis by slowing the negotiation down, and making concessions slower while extracting more for them. As you begin such tactics, observe the effect they have on the opposing negotiator. If he starts to exhibit symptoms of stress from anxiety that will serve as confirmation that he’s doing so due to the outcome he seeks from the negotiation. You can increase his discomfort by posing detailed questions pertaining to minute aspects of the negotiation. Remember, he’s under stress because he needs/wants the deal and if you create an environment in which he may not be able to attain it, he’ll be under more stress. Be aware that his discomfort can be used to your advantage.
The body language you might see is the other negotiator sitting close to the edge of his seat (i.e. come on let’s keep/get it going), and/or him fidgeting with objects nearby (i.e. pen, paper, chair, etc.) The more he does so, the greater the sense and indication of stress that he’s experiencing.
Stress can be a killer in a negotiation, but you don’t have to let it kill your deal. If you’re astute at discerning the meaning of the opposing negotiator’s body language, you’ll gather insight into his source of motivation. Once you gain that insight, you’ll have a better idea as to how you can assist him in giving you what you want in order to reduce his stress. That means you’ll win more negotiations … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!