It’s easy to underestimate the importance of body language, especially when words have such a major impact on the way we communicate with one another. But according to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA, the way we communicate with our bodies is far more important than how we communicate with our mouths.
However, in a new piece from Inc., writer Ian Altman spoke to body language expert Mark Bowden, who revealed the biggest mistake a professional can make is trying to read the body language of another person. "When someone has their arms folded, it could be they are not open to your ideas,” he says. “It could also mean they are cold. It also might mean that they fold their arms when they are intently focused." Because trying to understand someone else's body language is so complicated, Bowden suggests concentrating on your own behavior instead.
Thankfully, Altman’s conversation with Bowden just so happened to extend beyond the parameters of body language to behavior. According to Bowden, there’s a huge dichotomy between acting like a “buyer” and a “seller”—he suggest acting like the former. Buyers ask questions; they’re interested and make well-informed decisions. “[They] have been conditioned to not trust salespeople," Altman says. "If you demonstrate classic salesperson traits, that will trigger a defensive response," and possibly negatively affect the outcome you seek.
So the next time you find yourself in an important meeting, remember to be aware of your own body language; it's half the battle.
Learn more about how to win with body language with a copy of The Definitive Book of Body Language, and let us know if you have any body language tips.