How to Read a Prospects Body Language at an Event, Part II

How to Read Prospect's Body Language at an Event

Having the skills to both read body language, and to adjust your own body language to be more effective in a business setting is invaluable. Even though we may often be unaware of it, people’s body language is often more powerful and telling than verbal language. For instance, if someone is looking down with a scowl, with their arms crossed, yet says he or she is happy, our instinct is to rely on physical cues as a more accurate gauge of feelings. Body language is powerful!

When considering body language, it’s helpful to look for eye activities, facial expressions, head movements, hand and arm gestures, body positioning, and leg and feet movement.

Here are 6 tips for reading a prospect’s body language at an event:

  1. Observe body language to tell if a prospect wants to be approached or left alone. Crossed arms and looking away from you are signs the person is doing their own exploring. Approaching someone when they want to be left alone can push them away. However, if a prospect is making eye contact and smiling, he or she is probably open to introductions and talking. 
  2. Pay attention to where someone’s feet and body are pointed. If they are facing you, the person is most likely interested and attentive. If the feet are pointing away, the person may only be standing there as a courtesy, but is ready to move on to another place or person. Try not to hold someone hostage if they’re body suggests they are ready to leave.
  3. Mirroring is a powerful tool known to those who are trying to persuade and win people over. When first meeting someone, mirror their behaviors. As they become more relaxed and open, try to see if they will begin to mirror yours. This is a great way to gauge agreeableness and the level of trust they have in you.
  4. People’s eyes return to objects or people they are interested in. Therefore, if a prospect keeps looking over at a certain product or television screen, take note of the interest and lead the conversation in that direction.
  5. Facial expressions and eye contact say a lot. Is the person smiling? Are they scowling? If so, does it mean they are angry and annoyed, or just confused and looking for more clarification? A person’s amount of eye contact can also give you clues about agreeableness, interest level, and comfortability.
  6. Look for changes in body language as cues to how an exchange is going. If a person is resting their hands comfortably but then pulls away, this signals a negative change in feeling towards the interaction, such as a new topic or negotiating item that was introduced.

As humans, we’re always naturally aware of body language. The key is paying attention more deliberately and thoroughly thinking through the best way to respond, whether verbally or non-verbally, to achieve a desirable outcome. Read Part I, Consider Your Body Language at Your Next Event.

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