“How To Win More Negotiations By Reading Body Language” Negotiation Tip of the Week

“When truth becomes your enemy, you become disadvantaged. Reading body language will help you uncover hidden truths.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“How To Win More Negotiations By Reading Body Language”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Do you miss negotiation signals due to your failure to read body language accurately? Someone’s spoken words may suggest one thing, while their body language gestures may indicate something else. And the body language of “something else” is what should capture your attention. That is because those signals are essential to the negotiation process and your success in it.

Some people are excellent negotiators. And others are so-so negotiators. The difference between the negotiators that have reached a heightened ability and so-so negotiators is, the excellent ones observe the nonverbal signals emitted during negotiations. The so-so negotiators miss those signals. They do not realize they can negotiate better by reading body language.

Where do you reside between those two posts in your negotiations? Would you like to increase your negotiation skills by being able to read body language more accurately?

Continue, and you will discover how to read body language to increase your negotiation abilities. And by doing that, you will also improve your negotiation efforts.

He Did Not Mean That

When observing body language signals, notice the degree that someone’s words align with their gestures. Meaning, when someone is at ease, their gestures are fluid. Their gestures flow smoothly and naturally. And those gestures will be slightly ahead of their words.

When you notice a person’s words leading over their body language gestures, lend more attention to the gestures. A negotiator may be signaling some form of stress. Note the parts of the conversation that may be causing it.

As soon as you detect stress, question the degree that your opposition meant what he said. The misalignment of someone’s words with their body language can be a clue that may indicate that person is not being entirely open about what they are saying. 

Body Language Clusters

The other negotiator says he is vehemently in agreement with your offer. And he says he will do everything to make sure he meets his end of the deal. His words sound convincing.

You sense something that you do not like. You are not sure what it is. Your gut tells you that you and the other negotiator will have to address the agreement in the future. Thus, in your mind, you may not have the deal you think you have.

What happened? More than likely, your sensations occurred from what you sensed about the other negotiator’s body language. And yet, you still cannot identify what body language gesture made you feel that way.

First, one body language gesture cannot definitively define someone’s thought process about whether they are truthful or not. It takes the observance of a cluster of signals to gain that insight. To do so, observe:  

1. Nervousness Gestures

a.) excessive touching of oneself

b.) deep breathing

c.) hand-wringing

d.) leg swinging/moving

e.) shifting in one’s seat

f.) averting eye contact

As stated prior, when you observe any of these signals coupled with others in this group, the assessment that stress exists in the other negotiator becomes more valid. Thus, it bears repeating; take note when the signs began per what you are discussing. Therein will lie what you need to probe deeper to uncover hidden thoughts that your counterpart may be attempting to keep concealed.   

2. Gestures Of Agreement

Now that you are more aware of what to observe to detect stress, note the following gestures. They suggest a negotiator is aligning his words with his body language. And that can signal that he is not deceitful. The body language signals to observe are:

a.) leaning in versus away while making a statement

When someone leans forward, they display more commitment to their words through their body language while making a statement. Compare that to someone leaning back. In that case, that person is putting distance between himself and his words. His display shows less commitment through his body language. 

b.) genuine smile

A heartfelt smile conveys sincerity. A negotiator’s body language exhibits that through the corner of his lips pulled up, and crows feet at the corner of his eyes. Seeing this signal suggests the negotiator is sensing pleasure about what he is saying. That can serve as confirmation that he is committed to his words.  

c.) open hands/palms

If you can see someone’s hands, you know the degree that they might present a threat. From a body language perspective, when someone displays open hands, especially with their palms up, they signal that they are not trying to hide anything.

In your negotiations, open hands can indicate openness. That, in turn, can endear trust. Such gestures influence you. They may affect you even on a subliminal level. And that is why you must be attentive to the body language signals that occur during negotiations. 

Testing Potential Deceitfulness

You are at a pivotal point in the negotiation. Then, suspicions begin to rattle your mind. You sense something is beckoning your attention. Is the other negotiator lying, you wonder?  

When you sense something is not right, note what you are feeling and assess why you have such emotions. In all cases, depending on the severity of your feelings, consider slowing down the negotiations. Probe deeper for the source of discomfort.

What you may be sensing is either a blinking caution light or one that is full-blown red. Do not ignore such feelings. You have experienced body language gestures that are causing you to have those sensations.


During negotiations, you receive input about the other negotiator’s thoughts and position. That input comes from her words. But of more importance is the body language signals she emits that accompany those words.

To experience more significant outcomes in your negotiations, you must increase your sensitivity to your emotions and the body language gestures that stimulate your feelings. Those sensations will unlock greater insight and meaning of someone’s words. 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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