Shrewd Negotiators Learn to Read Body Language
If you are learning to be one of the shrewd negotiators in your field, it is common sense to check out the body language of whoever you are speaking with; after all, anything possible that can help you ease into an amicable settlement is usually welcomed, and usually by your client more than anyone else. Negotiating is a learned art, no matter how much arguing power you may have been naturally blessed with. And although you will most likely be paid by your client to come up with a suitable agreement and settlement, it is almost always best to seek a ‘win’ for everyone involved. Not only does this mean everyone is as happy as possible, it also that you will be building a credible reputation as someone who is fair and sincere to work with—and it is very likely you may be up against the same attorneys many times in your career.
Understanding the subtleties in negotiations can be key. This means doing more listening than talking in many cases, so that you can pick up on important notes, and garner information about what the other party may be seeking. It is important to have a read on the other side before you even get there, however, understanding why they are involved in a dispute or contract negotiation with your client, and being able to sympathize with their side too—if they merit such emotion.
Body language can be extremely telling though. And although there are typical ways to understand if someone is just not planning to budge (arms crossed, pushing away from the table), knowing more about the details of body language is extremely helpful, as follows:
- If they are mirroring your actions, you may be in good shape for negotiating. This means the other party is engaged in the process and with you. Again though, if they are leaning back or away from you, it is time to try to pull them back into the process.
- Fidgeting or wringing of the hands usually indicates nervousness or stress on the part of the other party and allows you the chance to use that to your advantage or to try and set them at ease while you are making a deal. Lack of eye contact also usually means they are nervous and not sure how to proceed.
- Is the other party smiling and relaxed in posture? This usually indicates that they are feeling confident about the proceedings. This could mean, however, that they are going to be difficult to deal with in terms of getting a good negotiated settlement for your client.
- Frowning, looking away, crossing the ankles, and other signs like an increasingly higher pitch in voice tone are sure indications that the other party is not happy and possibly becoming more annoyed.
Become adept at reading body language as well as being understanding of both sides. Hoping for a win-win and being as cooperative as possible will earn you credibility among your colleagues, and they may remember this positive attitude when you face each other again in a legal setting.
Are you interested in becoming a skilled lawyer and negotiator? Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your 4-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.