Masters of Body Language
Dr. Gabriel and Nili Raam
When Negotiating, Look For
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 determine
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.
Hayano says that in poker, for example, a player who throws chips forcefully on the
table or suddenly behaves in a brash, aggressive way may be masking his being
stuck with a weak hand of cards. The same goes for executives who loudly and
repeatedly proclaim that they're making a major conces