Just as your body language reveals a boatload of information about you before you even speak, where you choose to sit at a meeting/negotiating/closing table speaks volumes about your motives and goals before the dynamics in the room even begin. Think about what you want to accomplish in any transactional meeting and then choose your place at the table accordingly. You’ll have a better chance of getting what you want if you align your choice of seating to your goals.
Your first meeting with a potential client and/or real estate professional/colleague is usually about getting to know someone and building trust. Position yourself in a place that encourages collaboration and that demonstrates your capacity to work with them. Choose to sit beside the person on their right (they’ll feel more comfortable) at the corner diagonal. You’ll be able to view documents/plans/listings/etc. together, be able to hear each other without having to yell, and you’ll communicate “I’m on your side,” body language. Let the other person sit with their back facing the wall rather than facing the door so they’ll feel more secure. And make sure you have a clear view of the door so you can see who might be coming or going during the meeting.
If you’d like to show that you are a dependable leader, sit at the head of the table to convey that you are stepping into a leadership role for the meeting. This head of the table position conveys your competency and your power. Again, stay away from the door…choose the head of the table position where your back is against a wall/screen.
If the head of the table position is already taken, opt for a middle seat at the table. The middle seat conveys that you are and want to be a mediator, the person who is prepared to connect ideas and draw people together. The person sitting in a middle seat at the table also can maximize the opportunity to ask lots of questions and keep the discussion moving forward. There is something about the middle seat position that feels safe and boosts confidence by having others surrounding you.
If you’re able to choose what kind of table around which to sit, choose a round one and not a square or rectangular one. Round tables imply that everyone has an equal stake and responsibility in the conversation because there is no “head position.” Dividing people into smaller groups also tends to encourage interaction, trust building and opportunities for connections.
Also, try to avoid having people seated in rows. Horse shoe and/or round seating is much more conducive for building connections and learning from one another. Those in the back of rows and/or on the left hand side of the room in rows tend to become detached/distracted much more quickly than those in the front rows.
Choosing a place at the table, like other choices, is not random. Use that seating choice to your advantage.