Nonverbal Communication in Negotiation

Gesture Clusters

Many skeptics argue that it is difficult determining what someone is thinking by singling out one gesture-and they are right. A single gesture is like a single word; its true meaning is vague out of context. But, when gestures come in clusters, their meaning becomes clearer. For example, while a person’s fidgeting may not mean much by itself, if that person is avoiding eye contact, holding his hands around his mouth, touching his face and fidgeting, there’s a good chance he is not being completely honest.

As you study nonverbal behavior, you will begin comprehending the clustering process. When scanning a counterpart for clusters of gestures, view the body in four categories:

  1. Face and head. The face and head truly provide a window into your counterpart’s soul.
  2. Body. The body also plays an important role in nonverbal communication.
  3. Hands. People’s true feelings are commonly revealed through hand movements. For example how, how one opens their palms generally conveys a positive message.

    Involuntary hand movements can be particularly telling. People often touch their nose, chin, ear, arm or clothing when they are nervous or lack confidence in what they are saying.

  4. Legs. When asked why they cross their legs, most people say they do so for comfort. Although they are being truthful, they are only partially correct. If you have ever crossed your legs for a long period of time, you know that this position can become painfully uncomfortable.

    If you want your counterpart perceiving you as cooperative and trustworthy, sit with your legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor and body tilted slightly in the other parties direction. This posture will give you a better chance of sending a positive signal.

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(1) Comment

  1. I believe that nonverbal communication is still a part of communication but only in gestures form. We may still interpret things said by body languages such as direct eye contact so if you pay attention to someones eyes you can sometimes pick up on what they are interpreting.

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