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Body Language - the universal second language?

Conscious and unconscious movements and postures

Elena Arau | 01st December 2015

Communication through our gestures, body movements, facial expressions and tone of voice

Every culture has gestures and sounds that express certain feelings or attitudes. But in the business environment there are certain gestures, some voluntary, some not, that could work in your advantage at a negotiation table or that could, on the contrary, expose your anxiety.

Whilst our team here at Conversis are being called on to translate on a daily basis in dozens of languages, there’s one language that is pretty universal, although still worth getting to understand – that of the body!

Understanding body language is often a part of the training process when grooming top executives. A negotiation table works just like a poker game. You can’t give away any emotions or expose yourself, so perfecting your poker face and learning how to read your opponent’s body language might put you in an advantageous position.

For example, when negotiating, the general rule of thumb is to keep your hands away from your face. Rubbing one's face or head is generally seen as a symptom of anxiety, and anxious is the last thing you want to appear. Having your hands over your mouth or eyes signals that you may be hiding something or lying. Any level of crossed limbs or hands is going to be interpreted as being negative and closed off, which won’t help you to elicit trust in any negotiation. No one wants to talk to someone who seems to have already made up their mind!

During a presentation there are certain techniques that can help you improve the authority of your speech and keep your audience engaged. Here are a few tips that can help you enhance the way you emphasise during a speech:

Understanding body language is a complex process, as it is in strong connection with the way we breathe, the pitch of our voice, the movement of our body and even blinking. Also different cultures react in different ways. Nevertheless in a negotiation, just like in poker, reading your competitor’s gestures and keeping a straight face might just turn you into the winner.