People enter into some sort of negotiation on almost a daily basis. Do you work in customer service? If a customer complains, you have to negotiate with him or her to solve the problem and make the customer happy again. Parents have to negotiate with their children about bedtimes and play dates. If you work in business, you probably have to negotiate with clients, co-workers, or upper management regarding salaries, budgets, and deadlines all the time. Regardless of what type of negotiation you are about to enter and who you will be negotiating with, there’s one skill that will help you succeed: reading people’s faces.
People tend to exhibit seven different micro expressions, which are involuntary facial expressions, including disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise, and contempt. During a negotiation, it’s imperative you pay close attention to these expressions. Although the other party may vocalize their interest in your deal, these micro expressions could reveal how they truly feel about the offer. In fact, it is estimated that words only account for 7% of how we communicate during conversations or negotiations, with the other 93% coming from nonverbal communication and tone of voice.
Paying attention to the other party’s facial expressions can give you an insight on how to tailor your negotiation moving forward. How can you master this skill? Follow these tips:
Wait four seconds
After you ask a question or make a comment regarding your stance in a negotiation, watch the other party’s face for at least the first four seconds. The other party will immediately react within this time frame, and if you’re looking away, you might miss the chance to read his expression.
Give the other party options
Present different options to the other party and gauge his reaction to each so you know which direction you should take the negotiation. For example, if you are in a salary negotiation, present two to three different salary and benefits options, and after you suggest each, pause and wait to see the other party’s reaction. He may seem angry with one suggestion, pleased with another, and surprised with the final option. Read his expressions and figure out which option will give you the best chance of winning the negotiation. Once you figure this out, focus on this option for the remainder of the negotiation.
Pay attention as you speak
It’s much easier to control your facial expressions while you are speaking, so in order to truly read the other person’s face, you will need to pay attention to his expressions while you are speaking. As you introduce a new idea or suggest a new offer, maintain eye contact and watch how his expressions shift. Chances are, if you successfully read his face while you speak, you will have a good idea of how he will verbally respond before he even opened his mouth.
The next time you have to negotiate with another party, make sure you are paying attention to both what they say and how they involuntarily express their emotions. This can be your secret weapon when it comes to influencing others and walking away from a negotiation as a winner.