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This article originally appeared in the Oct 2017 issue of B-Tank written by the author Anthony Awerbuch


It’s a bit ironic that we use the metaphor of ostriches burying their heads in the sand, to allude to our tendency to ignore dangers; ostriches do the exact opposite. They stick their heads in the sand to turn their eggs, which ensures survival of their young. We, on the other hand, are often guilty of having our heads firmly buried in the sand, ignoring our client 's   nonverbal behavior.

Nonverbal cues are always more honest than verbal statements. If we know how to listen with our eyes, then we will find that our clients really do mean exactly what they say, non-verbally. Body language is less filtered than our carefully selected words since our brains process thoughts ten times faster than our rate of speech. Also, most of our nonverbal behavior is unconscious. Like any discipline there are a few rules that will keep us from jumping to the wrong conclusions when attempting to read body language.

First, we must consider context. If someone scratches his nose, that could be a sign he is lying. However, scratching the nose could simply be a response to a physical condition, such as allergies.

Second, we look for clusters of nonverbal cues before forming a conclusion. If your client scratches her nose, sticks her tongue out between her teeth and stops gesturing with her hands, then you have a perfect cluster and a definite lie.

This doesn't mean that we should discount key moments where only one cue was observable. In that case, one should gently probe to see if there is more to the cue.

Third - and perhaps most important - we always look for a change from the baseline. If you observed your client (who we just accused of lying) demonstrating all these behaviors during the rapport-building phase of the sales conversation, then there was no change in baseline and therefore no deception.

Admittedly, if this was the case, she may have deeper problems than lying.

The consequence of ignoring nonverbal cues ranges from placing yourself in mortal danger to falling for the waiter who just gave three signs of lying about the soup being amazing.

Misreading cues in a sales conversation won't kill you, but it could kill the sale - or your profit margin.

Here are some examples of what could occur in your sales conversations with prospective clients:

1.   Yes is No. You ask a prospective client, Lisa, if she is happy with her current provider and she answers "yes." What do you do now? Maybe you decide that you can compete on price and so you offer to match your competitor's service at a lower price. That may be a good strategy if Lisa's "yes" was real, but what you didn't notice was that as Lisa said "yes" she also nodded "no" ever so slightly that it was hardly noticeable. Lisa is not ready to admit that she has reservations about her current provider. You should ask if she is getting what she wants / if there anything that she would change if she could, assure her that there is no pressure and relax your own body language so that she doesn't feel pressure. Lean back in your chair, cross your legs (European style; knee over knee, not in a figure 4 with ankles over the knee), orient your torso toward her, smile and show your hands (preferably the palms).

2.  Residual Anger.  You ask a prospective client (Michael) about how well their current provider handles their warranty claims. His response: "Well, dealing with manufacturers in China is never smooth sailing but we generally get the issues resolved." That sounds good but did you notice Michael's clenched his fists and/or jaw? If you did, you would know that there is some residual anger. Michael may feel that he has to accept inferior service or he might not be ready to make a change. You could ask more pointed questions and assure him that while there is better warranty service available he should feel no pressure about changing. See also the body language tips above.

3.  Control the Conversation. Before the conversation even gets started, your prospective client, Sam, shakes your hand with his palm down over yours and pats your shoulder, as he tells you take a seat in the boardroom. If you had any illusions that you will control the conversation, then you have just been given notice: this client is in charge. If you want to get back into the driver's seat, you will need to work hard to develop trust and rap port. It might not hurt to throw in a bit of ego­-stroking to get Sam to soften up. Tip: You could counter his dominating handshake by placing your hand over his and holding it the for the duration of the handshake. Reading body language helps us gain deep insights into what is going on for our prospects and clients beyond their words.  Perhaps equally important, is the

way we manage our own body language. Body language goes beyond good posture, eye contact and a firm handshake. As sales professionals, we can adopt man y nonverbal behaviors to create a fantastic first impression and positively engage with prospects and clients.

When we master both dimensions of body language, we know how to truly listen with our eyes and talk with our bodies.

#salestraining #training #professionaldevelopment #bodylanguage


Posted on October 19, 2017 .

When your customer pulls your bluff.

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A few years ago, I put my car up for sale with a “For Sale” sign on the back window and an ad on Craigslist, I had sold things through classified ads before but this time was different.

In all the previous instances I couldn’t tell nervousness from excitement and I wouldn’t have known what a lack of interest looked like if it stood up and bit me between the eyes. Then there was a game-changer - I learned to read people’s body language.

My first customer was a difficult man, every time we reached a point in the negotiation where I thought he was about to write out a check he would suddenly back out and then start in again with a different angle.

I went along with him for about 20 minutes until he tried to convince me: “I don’t even like this car that much and there are lots of others I can go look at”.  While he tried to convince me of his lack of interest he has his right hand placed palm down and firmly on the roof of “his” car and his eyes looking up and down the hood. His mouth said – “not interested”, his hand said “this is mine” and his eyes said “I like what I see”. That’s when I knew it was time to call him on his ridiculous bluff so I said “all right then – good luck” as I made my way to the front door of the house. Ten minutes later I walked away again, this time with a check for $13,000

Even experienced sales people get caught up in words but if you’re looking for truth, body language always trumps words.

Tip for Realtors: Notice when a client caresses a wall or holds onto something a bit too long and pay attention to couples showing affection while looking at a house, they are showing strong signs of attachment.

Posted on September 29, 2017 .

Are your clients listening?

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If you’re a sales professional then you have definitely had a few no-shows even after confirming an appointment the day before; and you probably imagined what it would be like to punch the guy in the nose because you just took two trains into the city and gave up your morning for this appointment. Of course, you quickly drop the image, take a deep breath and leave a polite message with the receptionist.

And then there’s the client who keeps the appointment and welcomes you into their office but isn’t really there at all. They glance at their monitor thinking you won’t notice, they look at the doorway behind you as though they’re expecting someone and they say “aha” and “oh” but they look like they’re somewhere else. Afraid of addressing the issue and suggesting that “perhaps this isn’t the best time” or “let’s meet after you have taken care of (fill in the blank)” we might find ourselves speaking to fill the silence and as a consequence blow the only chance we have with this prospect.

That was me on more than one occasion and then I tried this….

An Executive officer introduced herself to me at a private conference because I was the keynote speaker for the evening and she wanted to know more about what I teach. As you can imagine I was very motivated to connect with her for the big business potential so I brought on my A-game. Shoulders back, head up, big smile, feet apart and entirely focused on listening to her, but then just two minutes into our conversation I noticed her left foot pointing away from me even though she continued to face me. I made a mental note – “nonverbal cue #1” and then a few seconds later there it was – cue #2, her hips started to turn left too. She had just told me loud and clear that she wants to go left and exit our conversation and so I stopped mid-sentence and said “If you need to be somewhere let’s connect again later” and that’s when her jaw dropped. She asked how I knew and then gave a legitimate reason for needing to go all of a sudden.

I explained to her how intention cues work and that because our hips and feet can only take us in the direction that they face it was clear to me that she wanted to go left and that I appreciated that she was being polite and still facing me. She hadn’t even realized that her feet and hips were facing left and was very appreciative that I spared her the awkwardness of having to break a conversation that she had started.

If I didn’t understand her intention I would have continued to talk and her mind would have been elsewhere and the next time we met all she would remember is wanting to escape and that would have killed any chance of future business.

Tip: Stop talking if your client has disengaged, lean slightly forward, make eye contact and ask if they need clarification or if they have concerns.

#sales tips #realtor #sales training #body language

Posted on September 29, 2017 .

Trump is not the first president to be scorned by the First Lady. The nonverbal truth!

Some news outlets are suggesting that it was hot and their hands were sweaty - the weather wasn't conducive to hand holding. Others say that Melania was trying to avoid an incident in a country where religious sensitivities disapprove of public intimacy.

It is true that Orthodox Jews don't touch in public - they believe that intimacy is special, private and reserved for the bedroom. This standard of behavior however, is not expected of everyone including secular Israeli Jews. Add to that, the couples (Netanyahu and Trump) all exchanged hugs and kisses on the tarmac so clearly the reports that suggested that it was a modesty issue are misguided.

So, what happened? Short version - Melania was upset at her husband. It happens in the best of marriages. [see below]

The manner in which Melania rotated her wrist as if to get away from him (limbic brains flight response) and then hit his hand (limbic brain’s fight response when fleeing won’t do) should make that clear. Add to that, Melania immediately looked away slightly to her left – she didn’t want to deal with him. For some context watch the first 12 seconds here.

At 9 seconds into this footage, Pres. Trump already shows signs of feeling beta as his lips stretch tight with mild feelings of fear and this makes sense in the context where he is entering the stage of a diplomatic reception where protocol rules the day and a diplomat, Pres Trump is not.

Then at 12 secs he places his right hand (his dominant hand which is more significant) on his waist or bottom of his tie as if to hold onto something for comfort and up-regulate alpha feelings. Melania adjusts the bottom of her jacket at 11 secs, of course no adjustment was needed – she was experiencing mild anxiety.

The Trumps aren’t at their most comfortable in extreme controlled environments and that just makes them human.

Skip over to the handshake incident and watch from 24:10 to 24:22 and you will see that Pres. Trump had left Melania behind, she had been trying to walk alongside him but then just fell back so that when Pres Trump's gesture came, it was too little and too late. By this time Melania, first lady are not was not going to take it and so at 24:24 she gives him the nonverbal flip.

See 3:47 here where the Trumps arrive in Saudi Arabia, Pres. Trump does the same tie touch.

Posted on May 25, 2017 .

Engaging Your Audience – It’s In Your Hands

When Nixon and Kennedy took part in the first televised presidential debate in 1960, the world and the candidates were in for a shock. They learned that their nonverbal behavior, in some ways has a larger impact than their words. The radio audience thought that Nixon fared better because they didn’t see the obvious discomfort in his body language, and his verbal message was strong. On the other hand, the television audience saw Kennedy’s confident and engaged body language and thought that he was the obvious winner.

Even the most brilliantly written speech will fall on deaf ears, if the speaker fails to establish trust and rapport with his audience. Our hands are arguably the best tool for this job.

Start by using gestures that allows your audience to see your open hands, this will help with trust building. Use hand gestures as you speak to engage and establish rapport.


There are two basic types of hand gestures; Emblems and Illustrators.

Emblems are gestures that are recognizable and used in the absence of words. They aren’t necessarily universal, for example the ok sign used in the USA has a very different meaning in Southern Europe where it is reserved for enemies. Display the ok sign after answering a question from your audience, and ask them if they are ok with your answer. This will help to establish a positive rapport.





This emblem is universally understood to mean that you are listening, and when you use this gesture at a noisy event your potential new client will appreciate your willingness to hear them. Listening is key to rapport building.






The thumbs-up is another emblem that is well known, and it is frequently employed by politicians even if it is not always complemented by a suitable smile. You can use the thumbs up to demonstrate your enthusiasm when your audience is coming around to your point of view, but please remember it’s not a real thumbs-up without a smile.






The thumbs-up can even be used to soften an action that otherwise would seem harsh. Pres. Obama incorporates the thumbs-up in a modified finger pointing. It is purposeful and subconsciously communicates optimism even if he is berating somebody.

Despite it being common knowledge that finger pointing is rude, it is still common around the office and even with public speakers. Finger wagging (extend index finger and wag up and down) is the most offensive and should be avoided, period. If you must point, try this: 1. Make an ok sign. 2. Extend your arm forward in the direction of your target.


Illustrators refer to the hand gestures we use as we talk, they help to convey ideas, but their meaning may change when taken out of context. They are prevalent where there is an emotional attachment to what is being said. Illustrator use has been shown to engage an audience very well even in the absence of an emotional attachment.


Illustrators can be purely functional too….

If I need to get my audience to move to one side of a room, which approach will help build the trust and rapport that we are after?

1. I gesture to the side with my hand held at shoulder height, palm down, like a Nazi salute.

2. I gesture to the side of the room with an open and upward-facing-palm, at a level just above the waist.


Illustrators can be used effectively when:

· Demonstrating something large by opening our arms wide. Small – bring them in.

· Demonstrating sincerity with our dominant hand placed briefly on our hearts (you need to             actually be sincere).

· Demonstrating growth with a diagonal upward movement of one hand.

· Using a chopping motion to indicate a sudden end.

· Bringing two fists to your chest in a demonstration of strength or passion.

· Gesturing with your right hand and then your left to show contrast – “this or that”.

                                                                                         · The steeple (left) says “what I am about to say is brilliant!”


Negative nonverbal cues

We soothe children by touch – we stroke their arms and shoulders and pat their backs, and we carry that instinct into adulthood. We self-soothe by touching the front of our necks, we touch our face and we stroke our own arms. We deal with tension by squeezing the back of our neck and wringing our hands together. Self-soothing gestures send a loud and clear message that we are uncomfortable, and when we are uncomfortable our audience becomes uncomfortable.


The spectrum

Where are you on the spectrum of using hand gestures?

If you are that guy who would become mute if your hands were tied behind your back, then you’re at the highest end. Since this can be distracting and make you look erratic you may want to bring it down a notch.

If you never use your hands when you talk you are at the lowest end of the spectrum and you may want to try to notch it up a bit. A tip that some people find useful, is to keep your hands slightly below your chest and pretend you are holding a basketball. This will position you to use your hands freely and it helps to prevent self-soothing.


Anthony Awerbuch is a certified body-language trainer and can be reached at / 201-618-5170 for corporate training workshops, coaching and much more.


Posted on May 26, 2016 .