Dr. Gabriel and Nili Raam
When Negotiating, Look For Nonverbal Cues
Your mother probably taught you that it’s rude to stare. But when you negotiate a business deal, close observation of your opponent makes sense.
By inspecting your opponent’s every physical move, you can often de termine whether he or she is holding something back or not telling the truth.
The key is not to stare so much that you make your opponent uncomfortable, but to be aware of his or her movements through casual glances and friendly eye contact. It will almost certainly give you an edge.
What should you look for?
Experts who study body language suggest a two -step process. First, identify a subject’s mannerisms during the initial, friendly stages of a discussion. As the negotiation unfolds, see whether your opponent suddenly adopts different behavior. “You have to watch people a long time to establish what their baseline mode is,” said David Hayano, author of “Poker Faces.” “Once you know how they normally behave, you may be able to tell when they start to put on an act.”
Hayano is a retired professor of anthropology at California State University at Northridge, who has analyzed the body language of poker players, and he’s found that the rapport-building stage is a valuable time to study your opponent. Why?
Because that’s when you get to know someone’s “natural” behavior. “If you are dealing with a very talkative executive who all of a sudden gets meek during the heat of the negotiation, then something strange is going on,” he said. It may be a clue that your opponent is hiding something; other clues are exaggerated movements or excessive enthusiasm.
A range of nonverbal clues may serve as red flags during a negotiation. Experts suggest paying special attention to a person’s hands and face. “There are many revealing body signals that may indicate a hidden agenda,” said Donald Moine, an organizational psychologist at the Association for Human Achievement in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.