“How To Overcome Hidden Secrets Of The Leader’s Body Language” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Secrets reveal themselves, but not until you uncover them.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“How To Overcome Hidden Secrets

Of The Leader’s Body Language”

People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating.

All leaders have secrets. And all leaders reveal their secrets through their body language. But when it comes to leaders, it may be more challenging to understand the signals they emit. That’s because some leaders are more comfortable displaying certain body language gestures. And even when they’re not as forthright as their words proclaim, they may appear so at ease that their gestures emit little insight about their secret thoughts. It’s the lack of inner emotions that can prevent their real feelings from being displayed.

Nevertheless, there are ways to discern what’s occurring in the mind of a leader. It may be a little more challenging, but you can uncover a leader’s thoughts through his body language. The following information is a road map to overcome the hidden secrets that some leaders would rather you not know.   

Leader Types

Before assessing how to overcome a leader’s hidden secrets, you must understand the type of leader you’re evaluating. In some cases, depending on his leadership abilities, he’ll display his confidence through different body language gestures. Note the following three categories as examples.

Unsure Leader

A leader that’s unsure of himself, or the position he wishes others to adopt, may tend to make smaller body language gestures when he’s communicating. Thus, when you see such signs, consider whether the individual lacks self-confidence per what he’s saying, or if he’s attempting to conceal points that he doesn’t wish to have revealed. In either case, the reason he displays close body language gestures is due to him not feeling overly comfortable.

Leader Exploring His Power

The leader exploring his power can be one that’s acquired a new position, or someone attempting to fill the void of authority. In either case, this individual type might show broad and sweeping gestures as he initially begins to communicate. You’ll note the degree of comfortability he has with his power when someone seriously challenges him. At that point, take note as to whether his gestures become smaller and more tightly controlled. That’ll be an indication he’s attempting to protect himself – from what is the question that should come to your mind.

Confident Leader

A confident leader displays open gestures (i.e., hands apart, palms up, smiling, etc.) when delivering news he believes is right for his followers. He may even have his jacket off, or sleeves rolled up to enhance his persona. And even when he has to deliver bad news, he won’t cloak it in tightly controlled actions that make him appear different than his typical displays. His movements may become minimized to align with the circumstances at hand, but they won’t alter to the degree that you sense he’s adopted a completely different personality type. Thus, when you sense a drastic departure from his typical body language displays, that’s when you should become concerned that he might be concealing secrets.

Disassociated Rhythm

When people speak earnestly, they do so with their hand movements to the rhythm of their words. And since by nature, leaders are in the eyes of those they lead, they’re adept at having their words and body language gestures synchronized. Thus, when they want to make a strong point, it’ll usually be noted through the gesture of a fist pounding downward, or a pointing finger that denotes direction.

Therefore, when such signs are missing, note it. And, when a leader speaks, observe the tonality he uses when delivering his message. Words convey conviction, but it’s the emotions layered over those words that allow his commitment to be felt by those consuming his message.

Signs of Stress

You may recall a member of the opposing party offering a rebuttal to the State of the Union message delivered by the U.S. President. As that member was speaking, he reached for a bottle of water several times to quench and soothe his throat. Even when the water was slightly out of reach, he awkwardly extended his hand far enough to grasp the bottle. At a minimum, it appeared abnormal. And that awkward body language reaching gesture, along with others, even though this was a seasoned political professional, revealed his nervousness (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWkjVvoXIS0 ). Two giveaways made that announcement.

The first giveaway was him realizing that he should not step away as he did. The member’s attempt to maintain eye contact with the camera noted that. Thus, he attempted to retain his position while awkwardly reaching for the bottle and trying to maintain camera eye contact. He didn’t accomplish that goal, so he stepped away momentarily. That only served to enhance his anxiety.

His second giveaway was the amount of water he drank. He reached for water several times throughout his rebuttal, with each occurrence being the announcer of his discomfort.

When one’s throat becomes constricted, it’s a sign of stress – you saw that in the politician’s body language. And in that case, the water served as a soother for his throat and to ease his nervousness. Thus, observing when a leader’s throat becomes constricted is one way he discloses his nervousness. And that’s a sign worth noting to uncover the secrets that he may wish to conceal.


Depending on the circumstances, all leaders conceal secrets from their followers. In some situations, concealment may be due to the time the leader needs to formulate a plan. At other times, the leader may require time to implement nefarious acts to enact against his followers. Therefore, the better you are at discerning the body language gestures a leader exhibits in different situations, the more insight you’ll have as to when he’s hiding secrets versus when he’s secretive for secret sake. In either case, you’ll have a secret gateway that reveals what’s really behind his words. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

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

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