Saturday, May 17, 2008

Is It Bad When The Prospect Crosses Their Arms And Looks Out The Window?

Body language is the real deal. Hundreds of studies, research papers, doctoral submissions, etc. have dealt with the subject. Our brain formulates and defines the message we decide to verbally communicate, and as we speak the words our body involuntarily gets into the act and offers its own unique, non-verbal manifestation of what we have chosen to say.

We don’t possess the same level of control over our body language as we do the spoken word. It is, unfortunately, easy for many people to tell you a lie right to your face. But, their body isn’t always so cooperative. This is the basis of the classic lie detector machine, star of many a pivotal moment in crime dramas. Its premise is that a person can’t control their heart rate, respiration and perspiration and that when they tell a lie the internal stress will cause these indicia to spike.

You don’t need to hook your prospect up to a lie detector during the meeting, but if you are aware of body language clues you can both manage and assess how things are going by using some basic nonverbal skills.

Your primary use of body language as a business development tool is for the purpose of putting the prospect at ease and becoming comfortable with you.

By adopting certain proven behaviors, you can influence how you are perceived by those you are meeting with. You can, for example, make it easy for people to feel comfortable, at ease, unpressured, and regard you as pleasant and friendly. All without saying much of anything. This is important because you want them to hear you; to listen to why you should be the one doing their accounting work. You want them to feel comfortable with you, even like you, because people rely upon these feelings when they choose personal service providers. Body language plays an extremely important role in this process, and if you know the basic rules you are way ahead of the game.

It is noteworthy that so-called “natural” business developers/salespeople, no matter the industry they are in or the product or service they offer, almost always exhibit an instinctive understanding of these principles, and so their message tends to be heard more clearly than many of their less perceptive competitors.

If you bring up memories of seeing, for example, a mother and child playing in the park, lovers strolling along a path, or friends hanging out, these behavioral snapshots all share one characteristic: the people involved act similarly. This is because when people are on the same wavelength, they match and mirror each other’s physical behavior. Matching and mirroring happens subconsciously because their bodies reflect the emotional comfort each person feels with the other. Acting similarly is a natural way of enhancing one person’s connection with another. It is mutual affirmation that says, “We are on the same page.” On the flip side, when you enter a restaurant and look around at the other patrons, one glance makes you instantly aware the couple on the far side of the room is disconnected. You can literally see it. You don’t need to hear a word. Just a few seconds observation of their mutual posture, how they are holding their heads, arm and hand gestures and their overall positioning at the table practically shouts that they are experiencing some level of conflict or misunderstanding.

Used competently, body language is a more powerful influence than you might at first realize. For example - If you are in the middle of a misunderstanding or even a more serious clash of wills, can body language skills be used to positively impact the dilemma? The answer is “yes,” and for that reason emergency workers, crisis intervention personnel, police, mental health professionals and others are taught how to utilize body language cues to defuse tense situations.

This is powerful stuff and can greatly impact the probabilities of obtaining the engagement. In the next post we’ll explore exactly what you can do to put your prospect at ease, make them more likely to open up to you and ultimately help nudge them along the path to forming a positive perception of you.

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