Understanding What’s NOT Being Said

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.


Understand body language and read minds.

Can you read body language well enough to read between the lines?

When you’re in a business meeting, I’m sure you’re aware that there are so many more things happening than what’s being said on the surface. There are glances, subconscious noises and movements that we don’t even notice that we make that tell others exactly what we’re thinking. In poker, it’s known as a tell. In business, it’s known as an advantage. So what are some of the basics for learning to read body language that can give you the upper hand when negotiating? 

Positive Body Language

In general, when someone is in agreement with you or likes what you’re proposing, their body language will change to reflect this. Look for some of the following behaviors to indicate positive reactions: 

  •      Leaning closer to you
  •      Long periods of eye contact
  •      Relaxed arms and limbs that are uncrossed
  •     Genuine smiles (I’ll go into this a little later) 

Remember, even when a person is playing hardball, a lot of times, their body and unconscious movements will give them away. 

Negative Body Language

How can you tell when someone isn’t taking very kindly to you or your presentation? There are a few key things to look for in the way a person behaves: 

  •     Moving away from you
  •     Looking away to the side, as if distracted
  •     Crossed arms or legs
  •     Rubbing or scratching their nose, eyes or the back of their neck (careful, during some seasons, this can just be a case of allergies!) 

If you start to see some of these signs, you might want to back off or change your tactics until you see a positive reaction. 

Spotting a Liar

How can you tell when someone isn’t being completely truthful in a meeting? There are a few tells that most people have: 

  •     Fake Smiles: When we involuntarily smile (that is, smile for real) our whole face smiles. People cannot fake the wrinkles in the skin next to our eyes, which crinkles when we’re really smiling. If the eyes don’t smile, the mouth is lying.
  •    Too Much Eye Contact: That is, eye contact that feels almost calculated. These people aren’t paying attention because they’re interested, they’re keeping eye contact to prove to you that they’re interested and definitely not lying.
  •     Stiff Upper Lip: Again, people who are lying try to keep everything very still, so a stiff, unmoving upper lip is generally a sign that they’re lying. 

Now get out there and negotiate some amazing deals based on the lessons you’ve learned here!


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