8 Tips on Body Language to Dominate a Negotiation


In a negotiation, you should have two basic concerns: to demonstrate your ability to lead and to appear friendly. To achieve these goals, it is important to note the nuances of body language – your own and others’.

How are the participants’ limbs arranged? What is the position of your head while listening to someone else talking? Subtle details such as these translate into questions of dominance or submission, aggression or responsiveness, as well as other dynamics implied in the conversation.

To help you to interpret body language and use it for your success in forthcoming negotiations, we extracted 8 tips of the subject from the book “Body Language in the Workplace” from Allan and Barbara Pease.

Resting Your Elbows on the Armrest


While siting down to negotiate, try to keep your elbows on the armrests. According to Allan and Barbara Pease, this position conveys power and integrity. Whereas with arms rested inwards, or on your lap, you communicate insecurity and nervousness.

Tilt Your Head While Listening


According to the authors, while the other person is talking, slightly lean your head forward. “This will make you look calm and intuitive, inspiring confidence in your speaker”.

Offer a Coffee and Observe

The authors have an excellent tactic to probe around the proposal’s (or ideas’) reception by your counterpart. The idea is to offer a coffee or another drink.

Observe closely where the person puts the cup after the first gulp. If one is hesitant or insecure, this one will put the object in front of him/her, with his/her arm forming a barrier. If one agrees, he/she will demonstrate that by leaving the cup next to his/her body, without barriers between you two.

Perceive Legs’ Positioning

Legs have a language of their own: the way that a person place his/her legs can reveal participants’ secret intentions during negotiations.

If they are crossed, for example, it is likely that the person is insecure and hesitant. Legs spread, on the other hand, indicate that it is open to dialogue or intends to dominate the conversation.

Make the person lean towards an objective or hold something

If you notice that your listener has adopted a defensive posture crossing his legs and leaning back in his chair, there is a simple way out: give him something to do or hold.

One idea is to ask him/her to lean to look at your laptop screen, for example, or offer the participant a brochure. “You oblige him to uncross the arms and lean forward, shifting to a more open position,” the authors wrote.

Keep Your Fingers Close to You


According to the authors, negotiators that make gestures with their fingers are often interpreted as more powerful or skilled in negotiations. In addition, you must leave your hands always below your chin level to hold the listener’s attention.

Shake your head slowly

According to the authors, shaking your head calmly conveys that you are interested in what you hear. But care must be taken: move it too also demonstrates impatience and rush to take control of the conversation. Ideally, you should nod slowly three times to reassure you that you are listening.


Mirror the Participants’ Body Posture


To imitate a body posture is a fast way of demonstrating affinity. According to the authors: “The other person will start to think that there is something in you that this person likes and it will lead this person to be more receptive and calm towards you”.

That’s why is it worthy to, subtly,  mirror some details as facial expressions, gestures and voice tone.

-Motto Sadamotto