- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
If you’re in business, communication is everything. Even the kind of communication that doesn’t require saying a word. So, it’s important that you match your body language with your words and make sure your emotions are authentic.
We’ve also included a cheat code that will allow you to read body language when you find yourself in various business situations (um hello where has this been all my life?).
You could be walking into the deal of a lifetime, but something doesn’t quite seem right. Is the person opposite you uncontrollably moving their leg up and down in a state of nerves? Do they not have the same amount of confidence in this deal? In business, you really need to read someone’s body language so you can pick up on things that are below the surface.
What do we mean by ‘body language’?
Body language is considered subconscious communication. It’s the way that we use our physical movement and posture to communicate attitude and feelings nonverbally.
If you want your boss to think you are working (which you should be…reading this article totally counts), having a slumped over posture with your hand in your chin leaning on your desk is not really selling ‘the super productive look’ is it?
Likewise, if you notice two co-workers talking and one is cowering away or trying to put more physical distance between themselves and the other, it is safe to assume your team member is uncomfortable and someone needs to intervene.
The importance of body language in business (and just life in general) is greater than you realize. You’d be surprised by how much it can make or break a business.
The cheat code for reading body language in business
It’s time to expose all the office secrets! If you are looking for a cheat code to read body language in business, this is it. Fake it till you make it will only get you so far now…
Let’s take a look at some tips that you’ll want to use when reading body language in the business world:
‘The eyes, chico…they don’t lie’
Now that we’ve finished quoting an Al Pacino movie, it’s true! One of the things you need to observe while conversing with someone is their eyes. One of the most important things about body language is where someone is directing their focus.
If someone is making eye contact that is direct, it’s usually a good sign. If they are not, it can be a sign of disinterest, deceit, or if they are just simply bored and looking for a way out. If the person is looking down, they may be nervous or submissive. If they are receptive to you in a positive way, their pupils will tend to dilate. It’s a sign that they are intently focused on everything you have to say.
If someone’s arms are crossed, it can be a sign that they are closed off or uncomfortable. However, it may also mean they are relaxed and confident when it’s paired with an authentic smile. This may be misinterpreted when it comes to body language in business because it may cause you to hesitate in terms of making the next move.
How fast is someone nodding their head? If it’s slow, there’s a good chance they are focused and interested in what you have to say.
If it’s fast and abrupt, they are in a hurry to get a word in and want you to stop talking. A head tilt can also be an indicator that the person is interested in what you have to say. A tilt backwards is a subconscious way of them saying ‘something doesn’t seem right’ or ‘please rewind, you’ve lost me’.
‘Anything you do, I do too’
In translation, this means mirroring. If someone mirrors your actions (language, speech, facial expression, movement, etc.) it means they are trying to build rapport with you. Mirroring is something we do when we like or are interested in a person. It’s also a non-verbal way to show empathy and shows that you are connected to that person in some way.
If the proximity is close, that’s a good sign for rapport. If you move close and the other backs away, there is no mutual connection. The proximity between two people can be a good indicator of how good their relationship is with one another.
Why should you read a client’s body language?
When conversing with a client, reading the kind of body language they are expressing will give you a good idea of what kind of approach you need to take.
It may even indicate when to make an offer or when to back off if the conditions don’t seem right. Having the skill to read your clients can make or break your business and financial goals. If you are meeting with clients that are showing interest in doing business with you, tell them through your words AND body language.
With prospective clients, their body language can also allow you to determine if they are ready to make a deal with you or not.
Understanding and reading body language is key in business. People can see yours and you can see theirs. If you are a business leader, reading the body language of your staff is just as important. If you want to know when it’s a good time to intervene in an uncomfortable situation or reel back someone’s focus, reading body language will certainly be key.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell