Originally published @ forbes.com
A successful negotiation relies heavily on one’s communication skills—both verbal and nonverbal. While most of us come prepared for the spoken component of a negotiation (with a clear idea of how we will make our case for that raise or promotion), we aren’t typically trained on the nonverbal aspect, which actually matters just as much.
Nonverbal communication, as defined, is the transmission of information through ways that don’t involved language, i.e. visual, auditory, tactile and physical channels. Just like at an interview, every part of you will likely be under scrutiny, and this includes factors such as your appearance, your face expressions, your posture, etc. As such, it’s in your best interest to master these nonverbal communication skills ahead of your conversation.
I spoke to Rhonda Moret, founder of Elevate For Her, a professional development platform for women, for clarity on the do’s of nonverbal communication during a negotiation. Use these tips for success:
Give a firm handshake
As a tic box on the first impression checklist, your handshake can indicate certain personality traits Studies show that a firm female handshake is perceived as confidence. As Rhonda recommends, "To achieve the perfect handshake, keep your body squared off to the other person's, ensuring you make eye contact, then shake firmly and confidently!"
Watch your body language
When sitting in a meeting at a conference table or speaking to someone across a desk, women tend to assume an open-arm posture if they like the person they are engaging with. Conversely, they typically fold their arms across their chest when they feel indifferent to or dislike the other person. A fine observer will pick up on this, which can impact their decision (especially in the context of a job interview). As Rhonda suggests, "Be conscious of the subtle body language cues which may be sharing more about your thoughts than you’d care to share."
Whenever you are negotiating, it is natural to feel like you and the other person aren't on the same team. This can make you feel defensive, which can easily reflect in your face expression and body posture. Rhonda's tip is to always approach negotiation with an open and receptive attitude (an easy smile, a relaxed stance, and controlled tone). This translates into confidence and will help you effectively convey your message.
Furthermore, a little known negotiation strategy is “mirroring” your counterpart. As Rhonda explains, "This refers to the unconscious practice of one person adopting another person's body language, tone, and behavior." This best applies to sales situations, whether you're selling your experience, your brand or a product. When a prospect is engaged, he or she will lean forward and respond to the salesperson’s movements. If he or she isn’t engaged, and pulls back and crosses his or her arms or assumes a defensive position—chances are they are not buying what you’re selling and this is your cue to make adjustment to your pitch.
Did you know that less confident people tend to minimize the space they take (by keeping all materials in a confined area for example), while more confident individuals take more space? There are studies that show this! "In business, by physically taking up space, you increase your perceived importance, confidence, and value" says Rhonda. So, at your next negotiation, bring your research, your reference materials and your documentation in order to claim your space and show your value.