Watch what you SAY (Non-Verbally)
with your ACCESSORIES and ARTIFACTS!
In body language, not only is the BODY communicating nonverbally, but so are also the accessories and artifacts that we wear or carry along with us!
Personal items such as clothing, shoes, briefcases, eyeglasses, electronic devices, jewelry, phones, computers, and accessories are defined as body language artifacts and are often overlooked as important extensions of our non-verbal message, personality, and brand.
For example, I watched through a restaurant window as a new business prospect arrived in the parking lot before our scheduled afternoon meeting. The year, make, and model of his car; how he preened himself in the rear view mirror; how he took his last cigarette puff and then flicked the cigarette butt out of the window; how he clumsily juggled his briefcase and miscellaneous business materials into his arms; and how he walked from his car and to the restaurant all factored into my first impressions about him.
Before he knew it, my subconscious mind had calculated all of these non-verbal elements within 5 seconds and before he greeted me with the initial physical handshake.
Without his awareness, his artifacts (i.e., car, clothing, shoes, cigarette, briefcase, business materials, etc.) preceded his physical arrival and factored into a negative impression prior to our verbal words in the business meeting.
WARNING: Smokers beware! Smoking and flicking of the cigarette butts may be sending your potential business opportunities up in smoke if you are meeting with non-smoking prospects who may find these behaviors and the associated odors offensive!
As illustrated in my example, non-verbal artifacts and accessories conveyed line-of-sight messages about the owner before he set foot into the building. Therefore, make sure for every business meeting, and especially for the important events, to be mindful of not only your body language, but also of your artifacts and accessories in order to show the world your best self and your best impression!
Strategically have ARTIFACT items available to use in order to enhance your rapport and connection with clients
As you meet with the prospect, make sure you LOOK, LISTEN, and LEARN to assess the prospect’s body language and to uncover the underlying needs and problems before you automatically talk about your products and services.
Connect and build rapport with the prospect first!
Use artifacts to help redirect any closed or non-receptive body language gestures (e.g., crossed arms, distancing of torso from table, increased blink rate, tightening of the lips, etc) from the prospect to a more open and receptive body position.
For example, let’s say the prospect’s arms were under the table, and then as you mentioned the prices for your services, the prospect’s arms suddenly crossed tightly across his chest, and he looked away from you with increased blink rate and tightening of his lips. These are non-verbal clues that suggest a need to change your strategy in order to re-engage the prospect.
You may want to offer the person an artifact such as a warm coffee or tea (tip: the warmth of the beverage, warms his hands, and warms his attitude toward you) as a strategic action to promote the uncrossing of his arms. Or, you may ask him to hand you an item from the table. Alternatively, you may want to show him a document, the latest report, or visual items to open his position and bring his attention closer to the table and closer towards you.
WALK-the WALK…, TALK-the-TALK
Here’s another body language TIP: invite the prospect to see something important in another other room or location. When the prospect stands up and walks, then match and synchronize your leg movement and pace with his. You are strategically attempting to open up his previous closed, unreceptive, body language and then attuning to his motions to rebuild rapport and connection. Then, engage the prospect in a topic that is motivating to him or her. Next, do more LISTENING than talking!
WALK-the WALK…, and listen carefully as the prospect TALKs-the-TALK…Walking side-by-side is rapport building and less threatening and less confrontational than sitting directly across the table from each other. When you bring the prospect back to the table, invite the person to sit at an angled seat (i.e., a more welcoming position) to you if possible.
Proxemics, Personal Power, and Personal Space
Artifacts and accessories are extensions of the owner, and therefore can be used to spread out to take up space beyond one’s physical body. Body language power includes personal space around us. Spreading out and claiming space signify dominance, control, and personal power. Alpha leaders with strong personal confidence expand out and take up space.
Alphas, dominant, or rude individuals may also infringe upon and take up the personal space of others. For example, while flying coach, you may have encountered individuals whose bodies or personal items spilled over to your side of the arm rest, seat, floor space, pull-down tray area, or overhead luggage compartment.
During interpersonal interactions and conversations, pay attention to your own and the other individual(s) body language and artifact items! His or her personal possessions may be used to block, distance, or separate him/herself from you during the conversation. If you notice this is occurring (e.g., the purse, briefcase, or laptop is placed as a barrier between the owner and you), then shift your body language strategies to regain connection, confidence, and competitive advantage.
“From Head-to-Toes, the BODY Always Shows…the TRUTH!!”
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