Recently, I was in a group conversation when one of the participants commented she had been on the first floor of the World Trade Center when the plane hit; she acknowledged she was a witness to the horror of 911. I think collectively, the group all experienced a reaction of horror and curiosity about what this woman had been through. In a matter of seconds, several people started asking her questions such as: What was it like? What did you see? Did you see any dead bodies? Did you see anyone jumping from windows? In those first few seconds, I had a number of questions myself. However, instead of asking questions, I recognized the look on her face. The questions were forcing her to relive her horror – the memories of living through 911. She look on her face, which was a combination of horror and disbelief, stopped me in my tracks. But the other members of the group didn’t seem to notice. Instead, they pressed on with question after question, asking what happened. I am the first to recognize it is human nature to be curious about what happened at 911. I also recognize there was no malice behind the questions. The media has replayed footage of the event on an annual basis which has led to a certain level of desensitization around how dramatic the experience must have been for the victims and their families and even the entire city. Research shows asking victims about their experience, while Read More

Free Stock Photos In the last post I talked about what a “no” looks like.  This week I want to talk about what a “no” sounds like.   Most people can usually tell when a conversation is not going well.  However, there are times when we miss the signal(s) and continue to work on a prospect even after they’ve told us “in their own way” they aren’t interested. Here are two example of what rejection can sound like: They answer with “no”:  This one is simple enough – right?  When someone is being up front with you, they answer the question immediately or within the first few words.  For examples, “No, I’m not interested.”  Or, “You know, I’ve been thinking it over, and I don’t think so.”  Whenever someone says “no” right away, believe them.   Dismissive:  When people are interested in what you have to say, they tend to be polite and easy with work with.  When they aren’t, they’re the opposite which can include being rude, cutting you off as you speaking and/or becoming dismissive.   When you hear either of the above and it’s coupled with a visible “no,” it’s time to walk away.  Any attempt to try and persuade the other person to see your point of view will only make matters worse.  You have to ask yourself, is that really how you want to come across?  Why not save yourself some time and work on other more promising prospects?

Disgust Anger Contempt In the last few entries I talked about what a “yes” and a “maybe” looked and sounded like during a conversation.  This week I want to talk about how to recognize a “no” and why you should be willing to walk away.  Most experts are in agreement there are seven universal emotions.  More importantly, once you learn to recognize them, you can go anywhere in the world and tell how a person feels about a situation just by watching their expression.  From a sales perspective, anytime you see a look of contempt, disgust, and/or anger on someone’s face, you’ve probably “lost the battle” and it’s time to end the conversation.  Keep in mind, in order to become really good at spotting any of the three, you need to practice.  And, to help you out, I’ve included both pictures (above) and descriptions (below) for all three:    Contempt:  Lip corner pulled in and back on one side of the face.  When you see this, it signifies the other person thinks they’re better than you and there is very little you can do to change their mind.  When it comes to closing the deal, you might want to let this one go.  This person is not going to buy or go into business with someone they think they’re better than. Disgust:  Upper lip pulled up; nose wrinkled; and brows pulled down.  Wow – think fast.  Whatever you just said didn’t go over well with the other person.  In fact Read More

Last week I talked about what a “maybe” looks like during a conversation.  This week, let’s talk about what it “sounds” like.  While a “maybe” might not be the answer you’re hoping for, it can also give you an additional opportunity to overcome any objections the other person may be having.  The key is to recognize what’s happening and adjust your approach.  At the end of this post I’ll give you an example of how to work with “a maybe” and possibly close the deal.  Here are a few examples of what “maybe(s)” sound like: They sound nervous:  Have you ever been talking to someone who’s been confident throughout the conversation then all of a sudden they strike you as being insecure?  Chances are you’ve touched on a subject that’s making them uneasy.  Some signs of nerves include halting answers; stammering and/or the appearance of filler words (uh, um, you know, etc.). They become evasive:  Meaning, your once chatty prospect, whose been answering all your questions without so much as a blink of the eye, suddenly stops answering your questions.   Heavy sighs:  We’ve all heard this one.  The other person sounds like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders as they answer one of your questions.  When you hear this, you’ll typically also see them either rub their face or the back of their neck and/or become physically deflated.   They ask to “think about it”:  Don’t panic and don’t read anything into this.  Instead, recognize Read More

For the last two weeks I talked about what interest looks and sounds like in a conversation.  To me, those signs are some of the easiest to spot and that’s why I wanted to write about them first.  Now I want to talk about body language signals that are a little more complicated (i.e. what a “maybe” looks like).  While these signals can be more challenging to recognize, its important you start to notice them because at this point in a conversation, the situation can still go either way.  Here are three signs to look for: Slower processing time:  Seen when the person you’ve been talking to slows down their reactions to your questions.  This isn’t a bad sign, instead its a signal they’re evaluating the information. For example, you might see them look off in space and/or purse their lips as they contemplate what you’re saying.   Chin stroke:  When someone is thinking things over, you may see them start to play with an object, such as a pen or a ring, or you’ll see them react physically.  Two physical reactions are the chin stroke and/or the mouth cover (see above for an example).  Also notice, the above model is leaning back while he thinks.  Pulling away is an sign the person needs some distance from the conversation.  Torso Turn:  The direction the torso faces is a sign of respect.  In this situation, when the torso is facing you, you have their interest.  However, when it starts to turn Read More

Ever have a tough time figuring out how the conversation is going?  You’re not alone.  Most people struggle to recognize and/or understand the signals they’re giving off as they talk to each other.  These “signals” are also known as non-verbal communication and include both visual and verbal cues.  In today’s blog, I’m going to build on last week’s entry in which I wrote about what positive non-verbals look like by giving examples of what they sound like.  On a personal note, I also think these are the easiest signals to spot in a conversation and are also a great way for me to segway into the sometimes more challenging body language signals know as “maybe(s) and no(s).” As I’ve mentioned before, the key to understanding body language is to gather a combination of signals (both verbal and visual) and ask follow up questions.  This way you have a clear understanding of what’s happening in any situation.  Here a  few verbal examples you can listen for:   Curious/Encourages you to speak:  This one seems like a no-brainer.  When someone is interested in what you have to say, they ask questions.  Verbal agreement:  These are pretty easy to spot and include words such as, “Uh huh, go on, yes” and “I agree.”  Answers “Yes” quickly:  When a person is being up front with you, they answer your question right away.  When they’re not, they stall.  For example, if you ask a perspective client, “Do I have your business?” and they immediately answer, “Yes,” Read More

Picture by Are you in sales?  Negotiating a contract?  Or maybe you’re a job seeker in an interview. Anyway you look at it, all of you are in the business of closing the sale.  Meaning it’s your job to show the potential buyer or employer you, your product or your terms are the best fit for their problem.  But sometimes, it’s tough to figure out how you’re doing. The next time you find yourself in the middle of one of these scenarios, look for these signs and give a sigh of relief – you’re being well received! Mirroring:  Ever watch two people deep in conversation?  And as you start to observe them, you notice they have a number of similarities, like they’re sitting the same way or their hands are clasped alike?  What you’re seeing is called ‘mirroring.”  When two people mirror or “mimic” each other it shows they’re in sync. When people are in sync, its means they’re in agreement on something.  During a conversation, it signals the other person likes and/or is open what you’re saying.  Pupil Dilation:  When we’re interested in something, or someone, our pupils dilate.  When we don’t like someone or a situation, our pupils naturally constrict.  Keep in mind, depending on eye color, seeing this signal could be a little bit of a challenge to observe.   However, focusing on the eyes is a great way for you gauge how a conversation and/or negotiation is going. Why?  Because, try as we might, we Read More

We all want to be part of the conversation, especially when we’re at a networking event. Yet sometimes, we can’t tell if we’re “in” the conversation or not.  Here’s an easy way to figure it out, watch the torso.  The torso is our largest body part, it’s easy to watch, and it conveys the other person’s level of respect and interest towards you.  The next time you’re going into a networking event, meeting with a prospective client, or just having drinks notice what the other person is saying to you with their torso. For example: Faces you:  When the torso faces you, it conveys interest and that the other person wants to “connect” with you.  Once they connect, the torso may turn slightly out.  Tilted away: The torso turns away about 45%. The turn can happen suddenly or slowly over time.  It’s a sign you’re losing your audience and they want out of the conversation. Turned away:  The torso is either turned sideways to you or completely away from you.  When you see this, the other person has dismissed you.  Leaning In:  Leaning in is a great sign!  It shows interest.  We naturally want to get closer to something we’re interested in. Leaning Back:  Never a good sign.  We naturally pull away from things we have an aversion to.  EXCEPTION:  If the other person is sitting down and leaning back, but another part of them is stretched towards you, like their legs, there’s still interest.  In this instance, leaning back just shows Read More

Photo by Goehrum Christian, Dreamstime Stock Photo There is no Pinocchio’s nose — no one cue that will always accompany deception.” – Leanne tin Brinke The New York Times just wrote a less than flattering piece on TSA’s decision to spend $1 billion on training thousands of “behavioral detection officers.”  Their job is to scan passengers visually for possible terrorist threats while waiting in line.  The article goes on to talk about how these officers have been trained to detect deception by looking for body language “signals” that give liars away.   This includes the belief liars glance to the right when lying.    The author also commented, “…it seems TSA has fallen into the trap that they can read minds by watching body language.”  Interesting…. If that’s the case, its disturbing.  Why?  Because visual cues only tell half the story.  Visual cues can show you when there’s a change in emotion (anxiety, fear, etc.) during a situation, but it won’t tell you why there’s a change. When I teach classes on verbal and visual “red flags (aka talking points)” I talk about my belief that in order to correctly interpret body language signals, you have to have a combination of both types of “red flags” along with follow up questions before you can arrive at a conclusion.  Why?  Because, dishonesty looks like other emotions.  And, incorrectly jumping to a conclusion can get everybody in trouble. Not only does it hurt the accuser’s credibility; it also damages the innocent. I don’t know Read More