Researchers worldwide agree that the total impact of a message is about 7% verbal (words only), 38% vocal (tone of voice, inflection, etc.) and 55% nonverbal.

Nonverbal Communication Impacts Over 65% of Results/First Impressions

The anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell pioneered the study of nonverbal communications.  Like other researchers before and after him, Birdwhistell found that when people were involved in face-to-face conversations with each other, nonverbal communication (body and facial language) was 65% more impactful than verbal communication (words only.)


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During face-to-face business negotiations, body/facial language (nonverbal communication) accounts for between 60% – 80% of the impact. Why?  Because we typically make our final decisions based on what we see rather than what we hear.

(When the negotiating happens over a phone and we can’t see each other’s faces, the person with the stronger verbal argument usually wins.)

Most researchers agree that words are used primarily for conveying information…body/facial language is primarily used for forming initial opinions about a person or for negotiating interpersonal attitudes.  Some researchers believe that people form 60-80% of their initial impressions/opinions about a new person in less than 4 minutes; other researchers, such as author Malcolm Gladwell in his best-seller Blink, believe we form our first impressions/opinions of a new person in 7 seconds.

Tips to Improve Your Negotiating Skills Without Saying a Word

Here are some tips to help you communicate only what you want to communicate in your face and body in front of another agent, attorney and/or the buyer/seller who may be in the negotiating room with you.

Prepare Face and Body Before Walking into Negotiating Room

Physically gather your power in your body before beginning meetings or negotiations.  Social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggests standing like Wonder Woman (hands on hips) and taking a power pose outside the room for a moment or two to collect and mobilize your strength and poise.

Check out your face in a mirror to practice (over and over again) your facial expressions just like actors do. This sounds vain and frankly a little self-serving but you want your face via a slight smile or frown or eye flicker to communicate exactly what you want to communicate…nothing more and nothing less.

Watch Other People Across Negotiating Table for Discrepancies in Their Body Language and/or Face

Just as you master your own nonverbal communication via your body and face, master your “opponent’s” non-verbal cues.

For example, someone nodding their head “yes” but saying “no” is a disconnect.  Seeing your “opponent” sitting still and not using hand gestures while speaking in a monotone indicates that your opponent is saying one thing and thinking something else entirely different.

Focus Attention on Eyes – Your Own and Your “Opponent’s”

Is your “opponent” smiling with their face and mouth but not their eyes?  Are you?  If your smile on your face and mouth doesn’t light up your eyes so they also smile, your opponent will perceive you as being insincere and/or untrustworthy.  If your opponent’s smile is conveyed in their face, mouth and eyes, you’ll perceive your opponent as being sincere, trustworthy, and truly interested in both the deal and you.

Focus on the Person in Front of You, Not Your Own Internal Thoughts or Dialogue or What If’s

Whether being in front of your client or “opponent” face-to-face or on Zoom, focus on the person in front of you.  Make and maintain eye contact with the person by looking at their eyes, the image of your person’s eyes on screen, on Zoom, or Facetime, and/or into the camera.

Your focused attention and eyes will create and maintain your connection and your power in all types of communication and negotiation.

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