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Are your words working? While it may sound like an odd question, most of what people hear is NOT based on the words spoken; it’s based on nonverbal body language. Body language is the key to making your words work. Understanding and practicing it can help you become a better leader, find common ground, overcome objections and win friends.
You can practice a speech all day and have every pause and word memorized, but if your body language doesn’t match up with the words you are saying, then your message will not achieve its intended purpose.
When you know how to read people, you’ll be able to quickly adapt to their needs and style resulting in a mutually beneficial partnership. That’s why knowing how to read people — and knowing how people read you — is critical in communicating and leading others effectively.
This is the topic of the WealthFit course Mastering Body Language: How To Improve Your Communication, Negotiation, & Sales Skills Without Saying a Word, taught by Professional Keynote Speaker and International Coach Rene Kamstra.
In this article, we’re going to break down a few of her tips on body language fundamentals so that you can feel comfortable and confident in every interaction you have — and lead with purpose.
Body Language IQ
First, let’s set the foundation by growing your body language IQ. The importance of body language has been known and studied for over 200 years, and while there are differences in communication across cultures, people from many walks of life share emotions in similar and easily understandable ways.
The best way to get to know someone’s personality, goals and motivations is by asking them questions. Showing an interest in someone by asking about their life gives you insight into how they operate and what they are trying to achieve.
Learning about their motivations and goals can then helps you build rapport and a professional relationship that can further your goals. Remember that knowing how to read people always starts with the other person — not yourself.
Rapid Personality Assessment
There are many ways to read someone’s personality, and we’re going to focus on the most effective and efficient way: the DISC model.
The DISC Model comes from research by Dr. William Marston, a psychologist who introduced the DISC Model concept in 1928. Cited and studied by countless psychologists and researches since then, the DISC Model is easy to understand and use in your daily life.
The DISC Model is separated into 4 personalities:
Now, let’s look at how each personality communicates, and the best way to communicate with them.
“Dominant” personalities have the following characteristics:
When you are communicating with someone with a “D” personality, you must focus on the goals and what the result will be. Do not waste time with small talk. Make your point concisely and quickly. These people want to be leaders and like to feel in charge.
They will usually display great posture and will rarely ask for your opinion since they prefer their own. Make them feel welcome by letting them speak and let them decide on the next steps.
“Influential” personalities have the following characteristics:
When you are communicating with someone with an “I” personality, encourage their ideas and participation. Influential personalities like to be social, which means they sometimes have trouble turning words into action. Make sure to navigate the conversation towards a resolution and actions.
Influential personalities also have active imaginations, so when selling to them, help them visualize how they will be using the product or service. This will give you the most impact.
“Steadiness” personalities have the following characteristics:
People with this personality hate mistakes and are private in their thoughts and emotions.
When communicating with a “C” personality, make sure to back up any claims with hard evidence. They like to analyze everything, so giving them data to support your claims increases your credibility and trustworthiness.
You can also give them the option to do their own research to increase their level of comfort with the interaction.
The Lost Art of Listening
Most people think they are great listeners, but is something they actively practice? The skill of knowing how to read people is based on listening more than talking.
Fortunately, if you pay attention, it’s easy to understand the other person’s true communication.
People’s body language will tell you what they’re interested in, and when you combine reading their body language with the king of conversation — listening — you’ll truly get to know them.
The easiest way to build a quick rapport with someone is by asking them questions about their interests, which includes:
When people talk about their passions, their entire demeanor changes: they’re more energetic, they speak louder with more excitement, and they become happier.
This is important because you can’t sell to someone when you don’t know what they value. Two people walking into a store or visiting an online website may both there to make a purchase, but each person has their own reasons for buying or not buying.
In conversation, you need to ask the person questions and observe their body language and tone of voice. You can tell when someone is excited when they talk, even if they don’t say the words “I am excited!” When you hear the excitement, focus on that topic and ask more questions to get a deep understanding of what is driving that person.
Also, it’s important to note that sometimes the person’s body movements and speech do not add up. Hands and feet are not reliable in terms of reading body language, so focus on the other person’s facial expressions and tone of voice. Pay attention to any objections they have and make sure to address them to show you are listening.
Why should you focus on this? Remember, the skill of knowing how to read people can mean the difference between a sale and a lost client.
High Stakes Case Studies
Let’s review two case studies where the skill to know how to read people provided an effective resolution.
Case Study #1: Trust
A client was inquiring about a product with a $50,000 sale in mind. This type of transaction would not be taken lightly, so the client was deeply concerned about getting it right. When talking to the client, the seller realized the client was visibly uncomfortable: fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, and having no enthusiasm in his speech.
It became obvious that the client did not fully trust the seller yet, and that was preventing the sale. Because trust is the hardest to build and easiest to lose, the seller honed in on the discomfort to understand what was truly going on.
The seller asked the client “What are your concerns about this product?” While direct, this question cut through all the ambiguity and got straight to the point, which meant less time wasted.
The client shared his concerns, and the seller advised they would research the concern and come back with some solutions. The concerns were addressed, and the seller came back with the updated product and resolutions. The seller presented and confirmed the client’s needs were met, and the client was overjoyed with the new product. Without hesitation, the client made the purchase.
This speed of trust and communication cannot be understated: because the seller knew how to read people, he was able to make a sale.
Case Study #2: The Truth
The next example was for an interview for a Sales Position.
An employer met with a job applicant for a Sales Manager position. On paper, the applicant was clearly qualified for the role, and she displayed excitement over the possibility of getting the job.
The employer wanted to ensure this would be a good fit, so they started asking the applicant about her passions and hobbies. This conversation helped the applicant “come out of her shell” and participate in the conversation in a much more natural way.
Since this was a Sales position, one of the required tasks was cold-calling. When asked how comfortable she was with cold-calling, the applicant said she had no issue with it, but her body language told a different story. She started avoiding eye contact and playing with her hair nervously. The employer took note of this and found it necessary to dig deeper.
After being asked about it again, the applicant finally opened about her nervousness and hesitation with having to make cold-calls.
Through questioning, the employer learned that the applicant had been rejected by customers in her previous jobs, and that fear caused her to not want to ever cold-call people.
Knowing the potential of the applicant but also the transparency, the employer advised that she would work with her on her cold-calling skills. The applicant was hired, and through coaching and mentoring, she became one of the best cold-callers in the company.
How To Command Any Conversation
Another vital part of knowing how to read people is knowing how people read you. Let’s discuss how you can use body language to take command of any conversation.
First, before you enter the conversation, know the outcome you want to achieve. Knowing this will help guide you as you ask pointed questions to get the answers you need. Asking these questions will help you understand who the other person is, and what they want and need from you.
The valuable conversation is a team sport, and you can’t work together if you don’t know you both are working towards it.
Next, make sure that, during a conversation, you pay attention to the person’s body movements. Utilize what you learned in the “Body IQ” section here.
Finally, as you work in your job, pay attention to how you dress. The best advice you can have for work clothes is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. When people see you dressing “a level up” from what is required, they’ll take notice.
Putting Body Language Skills To Work
Let’s tie everything together and turn these words into action. Here are the things to remember and start practicing to put this knowledge of Body Language to work.
How To Read People
If you don’t think your words are working, or if you want to increase your interpersonal and leadership skills, learn how to read people. Yes, it takes time and practice, but the skill has a tremendous upside.
As you grow in your proficiency, you’ll be able to use this knowledge to not only help reach your goals but to help other people reach theirs.
If you want to learn even more Body Language tips, watch Mastering Body Language: How To Improve Your Communication, Negotiation, & Sales Skills Without Saying a Word, where you’ll learn step-by-step:
- How to read the 5 “golden nuggets” of body language so you can understand how a person is feeling … even when they aren’t telling you.
- How to take command of any conversation using 1 simple trick.
- … and much more!