“Body Language Dread – How To Avoid Disaster When Negotiating”
“… He touched his knee! I thought, what does that mean? I #dread trying to read bodylanguage when negotiating!” An associate recounted her thoughts to me when discussing how she was attempting to avoid disaster during a negotiation. She wanted to understand and decipher the meaning of an individual’s body language. I told her, the gesture could have meant anything, nothing, or everything. Then, I went on to explain that one isolated body language gesture does not necessarily lend insight into someone’s emotions or thoughts – you must look at a cluster of gestures for that. I then stated, there’s an exception – it occurs when you’re observing microexpressions.
Observe the body language gestures below. Cross-reference them to gain greater insight into the meaning they have when they’re clustered. That will grant you the insight into someone’s thoughts and what might have caused them. Being able to accurately detect these signals will enhance your negotiation abilities.
Crossed arms by themselves does not mean that someone is unapproachable or closedminded. It could mean that the person is cold. Also, women tend to cross their arms more than men because of their anatomy.
To gain more insight about why someone crossed their arms, note the stimuli that caused it. To test their demeanor, say or ask something that will cause them to uncross their arms (e.g. that’s a nice watch – may I see it). Then, notice if they go back into their crossed arms position. If they do, you can test again with another question. After that, if they still cross their arms, you’ll have more information to make a better assessment of their demeanor.
Movement – When someone speaks, note the timing of their hand movement. If it’s rhythmically aligned with their speech, subliminally, more believability will be lent to their words.
Handshakes – A handshake can connote hidden meanings (e.g. hands vertical to each other, we’re equal – hand on top, I’m superior). Never fall prey to the hidden meanings of handshakes. Good negotiators may intentionally allow someone to have the ‘upper hand’ as a ploy to convey subservience.
Fist – When a discussion becomes heated, observe when someone’s hand forms a fist. The fist can denote deepening anger or commitment in what’s being discussed. If the stimuli that caused the fist to be displayed was unintended, seek to de-escalate the conversation.
A genuine smile is denoted by crow’s feet at the corner of the eyes and elevated cheeks. It’s important to recognize the distinction from non-genuine smiles. Knowing the difference can assist in uncovering someone’s alignment.
There are seven microexpressions that are generic to everyone on earth. Thus, the stimuli applied to someone in Asia will have the same effect applied to someone in Europe, or anywhere else in the world. The seven microexpressions are:
Fear (eyebrows raised, wide eyes, lips slightly stretched & parted,
bottom lip protruding downward)
Anger (eyebrows down and together, eyes glare, narrowing of the lips)
Disgust (lifting of the upper lip, scrunching of the nose)
Surprise (raised eyebrows, wide eyes, open mouth)
Contempt (one side of the lip raised and pulled in on one side of the face)
Misinterpreting someone’s body language can lead to unanticipated consequences. To assure that doesn’t occur to you, observe the gestures above when they’re clustered.
While reading body language is not a perfect science, it can give clues into someone’s thought process. Knowing what to look for, and interpreting nonverbal signals accurately, can help you avoid disasters when you negotiate … and everything will be right with the world.
There you are. Everything is on the line. You’re negotiating in a life and death challenge. What might you do and how might you negotiate differently giving the life and death challenge that confronts you? Would the answer depend on whose life you were negotiating for?
Okay, let’s turn the temperature down a little. Suppose it was your job or a contract that you were negotiating for instead of someone’s life. Would that alter the negotiation tactics and strategies you’d employ?
There are central components that flow through every negotiation. The only thing that changes is their order based on the severity of the negotiation.
The following are components that will occur in every negotiation you’ll encounter. Master them and you’ll have a greater chance of mastering successful negotiation outcomes.
Mindset: Your mindset is your greatest ally or foe.
Always be aware of the mindset you possess when negotiating. Your mindset will determine the degree that you think logically or illogically.
Your mindset will change based on the challenges you perceive and how you address them. That will impact the interactions you have with the other negotiator.
Be aware of what causes you to see yourself differently. Therein will lie embedded clues about why your mind shifts.
Bonding: I understand you. We’re alike.
People like people that are like themselves. And, they want to be heard and appreciated.
Bonding helps people to perceive you as being like them.
The time to ask for concessions in a negotiation is when you’ve bonded sufficiently. It’s an important factor that increases the odds of getting what you want.
Positioning/Controlling the negotiation: Look how far we’ve come. I see a positive outcome on the horizon.
Prior to starting the negotiation establish what will be discussed. That will determine the flow of the negotiation.
Set the agenda to discuss the items of greatest importance first. The other negotiator will have his priorities. So, be prepared to trade points to ensure you control the negotiation’s flow.
Determine which strategies and tactics are most appropriate for the type of negotiation you’ll engage in.
Reframing: That’s not what I meant.
Know when to reframe an offer. Sometimes people perceive offers differently from what was intended. If you sense that, reframe the offer. That will allow it to be viewed from a different perspective, which could make it more appealing.
To reframe an offer to make it more appealing, position it as a benefit to the other negotiator.
Pace: Change of pace alters a negotiation’s flow.
Bypass points of contention when you want to avoid them (e.g. Let’s come back to that later).
Negotiate slower or faster to increase or relieve anxiety or pressure when it’s to your advantage to do so.
Changing your pace of speech when making offers will impact their perception. If more time is required to have the importance of an offer appreciated, consider speaking slower. That will subliminally convey its importance.
Hope: The outcome doesn’t have to be bleak.
Brandish hope as an ally. Doing so will keep people engaged in the negotiation.
Take hope away when the other negotiator strays in the wrong direction. Your intent is to let him know that he’s engaged in a losing proposition.
Every negotiation you’ll be in will not be life and death. But the components above will be in every negotiation you’re in. Using them adeptly will enhance your probability of having a successful negotiation outcome … and everything will be right with the world.
Negotiator #1 – “I knew they’d back out of the deal. All of them negotiate like that.”
Negotiator #2 – “As I was negotiating with those guys, I knew I’d have to back out of the deal. They never negotiate fairly.”
In the above situation, neither negotiator was aware of their bias. The absence of that mindfulness brought unrecognized pressures on the negotiation. Each negotiator made mistakes because of it. It was also the reason the negotiation fell apart. Are you aware of your biases when you negotiate?
To negotiate better, note when you might possess the following bias mindset.
These are biases that you’re aware of. They can easily slip your mind when you negotiate. It’s like breathing, automatic. The potential danger arises when you negotiate in an automatic mode and having this bias unknowingly directing your actions. To address it, be aware of what you’re aware of. Don’t shrug off a thought too lightly because you think you’ve addressed it. The more aware you are of how you feel, the better you’ll be at identifying why you feel a certain way.
To be unconscious of anything is to be unaware of it. In a negotiation, when you’re unaware of a driving force, unconscious biases may be the source. To combat this possibility, note the source of your emotional sensations. Identify if you’re fearful, elated, expectant, or cautious. Then, note if it stems from a visual, kinesthetic, or auditory source. Doing that will sensitize your emotions to your state of mind. That will alert you to the realities of what’s motivating your action.
It can be risky to lump everyone from the same culture into the same category. People are individuals with their own perspective of reality. The more you view someone as an individual, the greater the chance to see that person for the unique qualities they possess. Negotiating with them on that bases will enhance the opportunity to connect with them at their level. That will lead to better understandings about why they negotiate in a particular manner, while you help them obtain what they seek from the negotiation.
Some people bully others and some are just tough. Based on what you’ve experienced in life, you may deem someone a bully when negotiating. The person may just be a tough negotiator. There’s a difference in those personality types. Be very cautious about how you brand someone when negotiating. Because, the way you brand them will affect the way you view them, their actions, and the way you negotiate with them.
We see what we expect to see. That affects our perception. Realize that your perception of reality won’t always be right. That should cause you to pause when you think, “I know he’s like ‘x’. Everyone in his group is just like that.” When making broad assumptions, be aware that anything which seemingly supports your beliefs may serve as confirmation about those beliefs. The truth may lie further from reality than you think. Don’t conflate like-appearing assumptions that should be thought separators.
The more you’re aware of the biases you carry into a negotiation, the less mental baggage you’ll have. Being aware of that fact and heightening it in the negotiation should lead you to greater negotiation outcomes … and everything will be right with the world.
“How To Negotiate Better And Avoid A Liar’s Beating”
When you negotiate with a liar, be cautious. Identify him as fitting into one of three categories, a habitual liar, a loose attendant with facts, or one that honestly misstates information. There’s a distinct difference between those three mindsets. To negotiate better and avoid a liar’s beating, know those differences and how to address them. This article notes the distinctions and gives insights into doing just that.
Habitual liar –
This is the negotiator that will lie for the pleasure of deceiving you. By doing that, he obtains a ‘high’ when viewing himself as a master trickster. He’s also the most dangerous negotiator type that you can encounter because, at times, he’ll lie just to be lying. Don’t let your guard down with this type of negotiator. If you do, you may pay a high cost for your lesson.
Loose with facts –
The negotiator who uses facts loosely may be someone that seeks to sway you with information. He may do so if he senses your logic is driven by data. In his attempts to sway you, he may quote statistics and/or facts that aren’t as valid as he professes them to be.
If you suspect he’s playing loosely with facts, pull out your mobile device. Ask your favorite Internet site about the validity of his statement. Do that in front of him. You may have to do that a few times. He’ll get the hint that you’re not someone swayed by the tactics he’s employing.
Misstates information –
Something that’s stated as the truth is a lie if it’s not true. And, everyone misstates facts at times. This may occur due to faulty memory. Because of that, your guard doesn’t have to be as high as with the other two types. Nevertheless, you should still note the degree of misstatements he makes. If he projects a demure demeanor while doing so, he may be using that as cover to hide his deceit.
Test the liar:
Regardless of the type of liar, test him. As an example, cite an erroneous fact pertaining to the negotiation. Observe what he does with it.
The habitual liar may embellish it, or attempt to use it to his advantage quickly; this may occur at any point in the negotiation.
The loose fact individual may extend your version while waiting to see where it might lead; he’s not ready to bite on your bait. If he brings it up later, note when he does so. That’ll be an insight into how he plans to use such information.
The misstates facts person may not say anything; that could be a clue that he’s not overly enamored with facts or the lies that extend from them. But, if he attempts to use the erroneous information to his advantage, consider moving him into one of the other categories.
If you sense deception, use the web the other negotiator is spinning to capture you, to ensnare him. To do that, if you’re speaking in-person, watch his expressions. Observe the degree his eyebrows rise; to the degree they do so, you will have surprised him. Note what he does next (i.e. stammer, clears his throat, rubs his eye(s)). Those gestures will indicate that he knows you’ve caught him. And he knows that you know it.
In every negotiation, a negotiator will lie to some degree. You should be most concerned with those that continuously lack conformity to the truth. They’re the ones that will attempt to expand the negotiation pie, only to steal it from you in the end. Thus, the more adept you are at recognizing and knowing how to negotiate better to avoid a liar’s beating, the less likely you’ll incur that beating … and everything will be right with the world.