Body Language Skills That Women Don’t Know About

by drjim on August 28, 2008

Body language is a persuasion skill that women need to learn to use as a part of negotiating

Body language is a persuasion skill that women need to learn to use as a part of negotiating

Negotiating is simply a form of specialized communication. We’ve mentioned that persuasion is the flip side of negotiation – the non-verbal communication skills that go along with negotiation’s spoken words. Body language – what our bodies are telling the other side, is a key part of this persuasion skill. What’s interesting is that men seem to do a better job of using their persuasion skills than women do as a part of any deal making. Why is this? I’m sure that psychologists would have a lot to say about it; however, let’s just assume the root cause is how we were all brought up. Boys have been taught to do everything possible to win – no holds barred while girls are taught that there are boundaries that should not be mixed or crossed. Let’s see what we can do about straightening this all out…

As we start the 21st century with its global workforce, new competitors, and changing workplace rules, I believe that persuasion skills are the one set of skills that will set the high achievers apart from everyone else. Some people are just born with a natural ability to communicate well with everyone they meet. The rest of us have to work at it. Just to make things even more complicated, I’m here to tell you that it’s still a “man’s world”. Men still run businesses and most of us are working for a man either directly or somewhere in our management chain. As a man, this is great news for me because I know how to communicate with men. I’ve been around men all my life and they communicate exactly the same way I do. However, it’s not always so easy for women to talk to men , both in the workplace and in your personal lives. Let’s solve that problem. I’m going to give you the skills that you need to understand what both men and women are really telling you and I’m going to show you how you can clearly communicate your message to them at the same time.

Now I’ve got a confession to make – earlier in my career I got canned, fired, walked to the door, call it what you will, you get the point. I’d like to say that I’m a master communicator and that I knew that this was coming; however, that’s not the case. This firing completely blind-sided me. I did not see it coming. Now I thought that I was very good at reading people; however, I was not looking in the right places and that’s one of the reasons that I got taken by surprise. Since then I have honed my people skills so that I never again get surprised: now I am much better at telling what someone is really thinking and I don’t get confused by their words. This is the skill that I’m going to be passing on to you. To get things started, let’s talk about body language. We all know what this is, but how often do we remember to use it in every conversation that we have?

To get started, you need to changed your thinking about every conversation that you have each day. Think about each conversation that you have as being like having three simultaneous phone calls going on with the person that you are talking to: your words, your tone, and your body language. This understanding is important because not only do you need to understand what other people are saying to you, you also have to understand that you are sending multiple messages simultaneously when you speak to others. What is your body language saying about you?

We ignore these gestures because we are so self-involved in what we are saying and trying to listen to what the other person is saying. A quick word of caution: a single isolated gesture is like a single word , doesn’t mean anything unless you put it in context in which it is being used. Just because someone is tugging on their ear when they are talking to you, does not necessarily mean anything! When studying body language, a key point is that it’s when there is change in someone’s gestures that we should take notice. When they start to make a new gesture, that indicates that they have just started to feel someway.

We’re going to start by discussing which single gestures express an attitude or emotion. They are very different and it’s important that you can tell them apart. Next we’ll group these gestures into more complex groups and then show you how to unravel their meaning. Finally, we’ll talk about what to do with the insights that you’ll gain from this new awareness. Knowledge is good, but if you don’t know what to do with it, then it won’t be of any help to you.

Where did I get all of this wonderful information? Its been picked up from watching and observing my coworkers over time & doing lots & lots of reading on the subject. We all need to realize that in any negotiation situation the non-verbal communication is as important as words being used. Next time we’ll dive in to the details of what to look for and what it means…

Do you read the body language of others when you are negotiating with them? Do you think that your body language is giving off clues as to how you feel that you don’t realize? Do you work with anyone who is a master body language reader? How did they get that way? Leave a comment and let me know.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucyloo July 28, 2011 at 4:08 am

Hi,
I’m dealing an older peer in my new job who reads body language and thinks he knows everything. The problem is that I disagree with much of what he says and don’t hold him in high regard. I also wear my heart on my sleeve and find it hard to hide what I feel. I believe in honesty and transparency and dislike the underhanded approach of trying to fox him.
How on earth do I handle this?
Thanks in quiet desperation and the early stages of panic!

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

Lucyloo: I feel your pain! Ultimately, the only way that this situation is going to change is if you can show your coworker that there is a better way. I’d suggest going to them and asking for their help in a given situation. When they provide their guidance, follow it and see what happens. If you don’t get the results that you wanted, go back to them and tell them what happened and ask them what went wrong. Have them come to the conclusion that they are misinterpreting key signs such as body language. Once they do this, you can step in and provide helpful suggestions that will (hopefully) change their behavior for the better…

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