Building on the article yesterday, I felt I will need to touch on a age-old topic – body language. Although we have studied what body language you used will affect the impression you project to others, consciously you are unable to control your movements unless you watch every movement, every smile, wherever you place your hands.
More often than not, whenever I attended body language lessons (sponsored by my previous companies), I find it useful to me to measure someone, perhaps a customer whether he is buying or just browsing; or my boss whether it is a good time to approach him to ask for a pay raise. What I don’t think is useful is to watch my movements.
What you learn to observe, others can use the same methods to observe you. Hence to counter-effect this, there is a fool-proof ways that works for me. I always think every possible positive things and drive the negative thoughts away before each meeting. I find out what are the agendas and try to prepare myself for them, meanwhile I will also anticipate any questions that will ask of me and prepared my answers in advance.
Armed with knowledge and preparations, will boost one’s confidence level and you will walk into the meeting room, head up, shoulder straight and a grin on your face instead of looking down at your hands, wishing your boss will not pick you apart in front of others again. If you have done your homework before the questions, you probably wish your boss will ask you instead.
Thinking positive will allow you to relax and your body language will naturally reflect this without having you to constantly watch your movements.
Next is guiding you how to observe others’ body language. I’m not an expert at body languages but I can share the common ones I can easily identify with.
Target: Face to Face Client / Customer
Watch the way he or she greets you, first impressions tells a lot about the person. Look at the way the client sits or stand, whether he looks comfortable with his surroundings. Is his body language boastful? Example: loud dressing, stance shifting from one foot to another, arms in front of him, either fold or unfold, his voice loud with directive words. He might be hiding he is uncomfortable and protecting his vulnerability. Depending on what your aims to the meeting, to sell something or to pacify a complain customer, you can observe his body language to make your next move – whether to attack, to defense or stay neutral.
Target: Over the phone Client / Customer
Here, your ears need to be sensitive to tone, words and punctuation. Listen carefully to the tone of voice of the other party, did it change during the conversation as well. A phone conversation is almost like a tango, carefully rehearsed steps with a certain grace and elegance in the footwork. Not too fast that you’ll do all the talking and dominate the conversation, not appearing too eager as well that you’ll used up all the conversational pieces and not too slow that you’ll bored your customer to death, waiting for you to complete your sentence.
Target: Your Boss
You want to submit a proposal or your leave or even a special request to your boss. Don’t go charging into his office blindly. I’ll let you a little secret that I always do and it always work.
Starting from the moment my boss walked into the office in the morning, his mannerisms tells me if it has been a good morning for him or has he been cursing at the car in front of him in the hour-long traffic jam. It also helps to see if he is early or late to work. If he is early, probably he already has his hands full of meetings in the morning and he is in office for preparations. Then that’s definitely not the right time to approach him because he is either not in the right mood / or too busy / or too worked up to listen to anything unless you’re his boss.
So ease off and wait after lunchtime, stats shows that people tend to be happier and in lull calmness after a full meal. That is when you strike. Just make sure that he did not just had a lunch meeting with his boss or clients and/ or he is not rushing off to another meeting straight after lunch.
I trained my staff this in so effectively, they are able to apply in their personal life too. Whether it is approaching their wives for approval for an all boys’ night out or their husbands for an increase in household allowance. It’s works! Everyone is happy and I like to call it a “Win-Win solution”.
Have you ever misread a situation or body language? Share your thoughts with me.