“Situational Awareness How To Help Increase Your Body Language Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“When situational awareness is lax, the journey’s end may not be the destination sought.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Situational Awareness

How To Help Increase Your Body Language Skills”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Do you know the benefits of situational awareness related to body language? When reading body language, the greater your situational awareness as to what may have caused a displayed gesture, the greater will become your ability to read body language accurately. And the same is true about your self-situational awareness per the gestures you emit.

Your awareness and recognition of the following four color-coded situational awareness stages will benefit you once you become tuned to them. Accordingly, having a sense of situational awareness will enhance your negotiation and reading body language skills as you interact with others. Thus, it is for that reason I tie situational awareness to reading body language.

Color Codes – Situational Awareness – Body Language

The late Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Cooper did not claim to invent the following color code. But he may have been the first to associate a color code with one’s mental state of mind. Information about Cooper  In so doing, he cited the stages that people may find themselves in related to situational awareness.

Situational Awareness – Color Code White

In this mindset, you lack awareness of what is occurring in your environment. While negotiating, it can become easy to have your mind slip into a semi-state of unawareness; and allowing yourself to maintain that mindset can be detrimental to your efforts. For one, you may miss vital body language signals that indicate you should alter your tactics. For another, you may miss subtle signals that may have increased your opportunities.

If you find yourself tuning out during a negotiation, realize that your full attention is not present. To replenish your mental wellbeing, take a break. Never allow your mind to linger too long in this state.  You may miss advantages that might otherwise avail themselves.  

Situational Awareness – Color Code Yellow

While in this state, you are aware of your environment and the situation that you are in. That bodes well for being moderately aware of the body language gestures people emit. And while you find yourself in a heightened sense of sensation compared to the white state of situational awareness, you are not attuned to a level of understanding that can deliver full benefits.

When observing body language gestures in this mindset, be observant of the kinetic sensations you experience – those of which later you might classify as having a hunch. During this state, your senses will become keener to hand, head, and pace of speech indicators that will guide you towards the next steps you should engage when negotiating.

Situational Awareness – Color Code Orange

You may sense your counterpart narrowing their eyes when responding. Or, you may notice their palm up and out (body language gestures meaning stop/halt). During this state of situational awareness, your levels of alertness are almost at their peak, preparing you for practical actions and responses.

Note what summons your attention per the body language gestures you observe while in this state. And, take note of any signals you detect that are associated with the initial actions you sensed.

As you read body language, one gesture most likely will not return the complete thought process of the person with whom you are engaging. Thus, it would help if you observed a cluster of gestures to understand better what is occurring in that person’s mind. Doing that will prepare you for the next state of situational awareness.

Situational Awareness – Color Code Red

Code red – you are ready for action. You have progressed through the different color codes, signaling your preparedness for action. Your senses have noted the hand, eye, pace of speech, and degree that such movements have occurred. Now what?

Depending on the gestures you have witnessed, threatening, friendly, or neutral, you might consider responding in kind, heightening your gestures (e.g., making more significant and more prolonged/broader gestures – signaling more exasperation), or you may decide not to display any gestures at all.

Your response will be determined based on individual circumstances and the personalities of those engaged. Whatever your response, be prepared to shrink or heighten your body language gestures to convey the sense of purpose you have in mind.   


Being aware of your environment is a necessity to read body language better. And to add more specificity to your perception, you must maintain situational awareness.

Therefore, to better adapt to situational changes, be attentive about situational awareness and the color codes mentioned. In so doing, you will adjust faster to the tactics and gestures mentioned. That will lead you to have greater control during negotiations or any interaction with others. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!  

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