Real estate agents are always looking for clues, secrets if you will, to help them assess who is on the other end of a phone or who has just walked into their office for the first time. Turns out that MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has recently released “secrets” backed by serious research that is able to predict outcomes of negotiations, sales calls and business pitches 87% of the time based upon body language alone.

MIT research tips include…

1. Paying attention to context – does the person’s body language make sense given the environment of the meeting or transaction? Is the person on the phone with you while allowing constant interruptions or distractions?
2. Look for “cluster” behavior – cluster behavior is repeated behavior such as touching the face constantly, sweating, stuttering when responding to or speaking about questions/topics that could be touchy or anxiety producing such as an amount of money available for a down payment.
3. Get a baseline of the person’s behavior or speaking patterns – if the person is always moving/talking and suddenly stops, pay attention. Is this how the person normally talks or acts?
4. Be conscious of you own biases – we all have biases…know yours.

When to trust or not trust our instincts? Given that our instincts are fairly accurate most of the time, remember to “update” your instincts constantly. For example, if one day the person shows up conventionally dressed and another day the person shows up completely unkempt, you might wonder who is the person underneath the clothing. Visual “identity claims” are statements about a person’s attitudes, goals, values, etc. so if those visual clues suddenly change, pay attention.

According to MIT research, consistency is the name of the game here. Know when body language/speech patterns are consistent and pay attention when they suddenly aren’t.

Consistency applies to emotional expressiveness as well. Expressiveness is a sign of cooperativeness. Trust that consistency. Also trust people whose speech patterns and behaviors are in sync with yours.

MIT indicates that trust is not warranted around cluster (repeated body language clues)behaviors such as face touching, hand touching, crossing arms and/or leaning away from you during face-to-face conversations.

On the phone, reserve your trust when you hear someone pausing for an uncomfortable amount of time when you’ve asked a question, someone who either stops or starts jiggling something (coins, desk items, radio volume) when there’s a lull or question.

In terms of your own body language and speech patterns (remember “they” are looking for clues in your body language and speech patterns too), be an athlete. Just as athletes get themselves “into the zone,” you can practice getting yourself into a mental zone of whatever body language you want to emanate. If you want to communicate professionalism, trustworthiness, competency, etc. speak and move your body in ways that communicate your intentions.

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