Today I went on an ‘Advanced Body Language in Negotiations Skills’ course with Damien Culhane, a specialist in this area and it was fantastic! Who knew that a handshake or the rapport that you have with someone was so important?! Of course it does make sense to take this into consideration when having a business meeting but, it’s the impact it can actually have that really interested me.

Having worked in training and development for over 15 years I’ve carried out many presentations and business meetings and I’ve always prided myself on being professional, knowledgeable about our products and services and I’ve always had good sales results from the business deals I’ve secured. But, now I’m doubting that it was anything to do with knowledge of products and services, well maybe part of it was to do with my ability to sell a product but, today I learnt that actually the rapport and the body language you have with your client is vital in securing that deal so much so that rapport actually counts for 60-80% of whether or not you can close the deal!

During the course we identified examples in our lives where we had won and lost business and we reflected on the rapport and relationship we had with these individuals and those that are close to you i.e. family and friends. We looked at the way we communicated and the different types of body language and physical gestures we make and carried out some fun examples of different handshakes and the meaning behind the handshake and where it evolved from – it was all fascinating stuff! Damien, was an excellent facilitator and an expert in this area, he gave us some great hints and tips that we could use going forward in our business meetings so I wanted to share them with you, see below.

This course made me also start thinking about body language in general life and has made me more aware of this. How many times are you really listening to what your family and friends are saying? I know there are many times when I’m trying to do a million things at once and when my husband is trying to talk to me about something important usually that I only half listen (a lot of the time) as I’m trying to juggle other things. I also know that when my two boys try to tell me things whilst I’m otherwise engaged and sometimes I don’t actively engage in what it is they tell me and often I don’t stop to think how this might make them feel. Do you do this too?

Our lives are so busy and we’re always trying to juggle so many tasks at the same time that sometimes active listening and body language isn’t always top of our priorities. As a Life Coach (in training) I’m always encouraging others to live life the conscious way and be present in that moment. It’s a tough ask but, something we should do, as life is just passing us by every day and we’ve got to be conscious of this!

Below some of the things I picked up from today’s course and here are some of the things I’m going to try and incorporate into my personal life;

  • Engage fully in the conversations you have with your partner, family and friends, this shows them that you are interested and value what they are saying.
  • Always be aware of your body language, how many times have you been talking to someone and during mid-conversation they’re glancing over your shoulder to look at someone or something else? Don’t do it, you lose the connection with that person and makes them feel like you’re not actively listening.
  • Always listen to your children intently, teach them the value of listening. This hasn’t been something that I’ve been great at in the past and when they’ve said thank you or sorry, in particular they’ve not really had eye contact with me and they haven’t said it like they mean it. Take the time to teach them the importance of eye contact and the use of words they speak.

Below are the hints and tips Damien Culhane provided which might just help you close that business deal;

  • The business meeting starts the moment you greet your client so beware of this.
  • The handshake is vital in creating immediate rapport and sets the scene going forward so if this isn’t great then it’s likely your meeting won’t be either! See hints and tips on different handshakes and how the handshake even came about!
  • The right eye contact is vital, nothing too intense or scary but, one that shows that you’re interested in what they’re saying.  There are more tips about this on the ‘Creating the right body language’ article, click here to learn more.
  • Have open body language and be aware of your voice in terms of its tone, speed and volume.
  • Understand the client’s needs first before you start going into selling your product and adapt your sales pitch as you go ensuring you are meeting their needs and expectations
  • Read their gestures and identify these clusters when making the deal

Let me know your thoughts on this, can you relate to any of this or do you think the body language debate is all a myth! I’d be interested to hear from you. Please comment;