YOUR Biggest BODY LANGUAGE Mistakes (They Are Killing Your Business Meetings)

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. He has spoken, led conferences, and moderated panels at venues around the world.

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Nick shares the most common body language mistakes salespeople make and how to instantly correct them.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Nick Morgan
Leading Communication Theorist

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Do you want to know how you can use body language techniques to even the playing field when you're dealing with a power player such as a CEO, CFO when they're trying to manipulate you? Then this episode is for you. Hello, Sales Nation, I'm Will Barron and welcome to today's episode of The Salesman Podcast. On today's show we have the return, third time round, of Dr. Nick Morgan, he is America's top communication speaker and coach. You can find out more about Nick over at publicwords.com. With all that said, let's jump in to today's show. Nick, welcome back to The Salesman Podcast.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Will, it's fantastic to be here again, good to see you. And I do mean see you because this has a visual component, right?

 

Biggest Body Language Mistakes Salespeople Make · [01:05] 

 

Will Barron:

I'm glad to have you back on. Yeah, we've probably just confused everyone who's listening to this on the audio but I'll plug it, I've already said it, we've got a YouTube channel. As we record this, I'm about four subscribers away from 10,000 subscribers on the YouTube channel, so this will be a good reference point for everyone of the growth of the YouTube channel as it expands since this episode was recorded. And with that, Nick, jumping straight in, mate. I want to dive into good, bad habits, body language, voice, everything else that salespeople have and need to develop to become more charismatic, to be able to build trust quicker with audiences and individuals. What are the best bang for buck bad habits salespeople have, that perhaps we all have, that we need to get rid of on a bad body language front?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Well, I think the biggest two really are first of all, speaking with intention, showing up with intention. And then the second, and it's related, is showing up with focus. And those two things I think get in the way of salespeople and everybody else communicating most of the time and so we can dive into both of those, I'll say a couple of sentences and then you can ask me some questions about what intrigues you there if anything. So the intentional side of it is quite simply that every communication is always two conversations, as you and I have discussed before. And so when I show up saying one thing, trying to make a sale, trying to create trust, but let's say my body language is saying something else, I'm nervous or I'm distracted or instinctively I'm not quite comfortable in this other person's presence, this happens, then my body language will betray that.

 

“All the brilliant words in the world saying how happy you are to be there won't overcome a scowl on your face. If you're frowning and you say, “I'm happy to be here,” nobody believes you. The visual message is far more powerful.” – Dr. Nick Morgan · [03:06] 

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And so the message that I'll actually send to the other person is twofold. On the one hand there's the content, on the other hand there's the body language, the lack of connection in the body language. And of course, as we know, what happens is when those two messages are not aligned, the body language always wins, it always trumps the content. And that sounds surprising to people because it's probably the first time they've thought of it that way but it's a really important concept to get because all the brilliant words in the world saying how happy you are to be there won't overcome a scowl on your face, that's the simple way to remember it. If you're frowning and you say, “I'm happy to be there,” nobody believes you.

 

Will Barron:

Okay.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Because the visual message is far more powerful.

 

How to Be Comfortable in Uncomfortable Sales Situations · [03:30] 

 

Will Barron:

You said something interesting here, Nick, which immediately grabbed my attention. Before we get into the intention, the focus side of things, I think it's going to be quite commonplace, especially if you're pushing yourself as a B2B sales professional, that you're going to be in uncomfortable conversations. And both exciting conversations as well, depending on how you want to frame it. Whether you're pushing up to see a CFO, which is perhaps a level of sale that you've never done before, you're doing a deal which is a bigger size than you're used to and comfortable with, how do we get ourselves comfortable for those scenarios? Or let me rephrase this, can we hack this and fake it till we make it by faking our body language to make us look comfortable until we are comfortable in these scenarios? Or is the real solution to see a therapist for six months and get our brain right that we are worthy of being in these conversations?

 

“You can’t fake body language, it takes a lot of mental work. Most of the time we let our unconscious minds handle our body language, so we don't think about it consciously.” – Dr. Nick Morgan · [04:10] 

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, it's a great question. And the way you phrase it actually neatly sums up the problem, because you can fake body language, it takes a lot of mental work. Most of the time we let our unconscious minds handle our body language, we don't think about it consciously. And so to make it conscious, to think, now I've got to put my hands here and my face this way and I've got to stand confidently rather than cringing, as is my natural way because I don't feel worthy in front of this CFO, to use your example, that takes a lot of mental work. And it's hard then to remember what you're saying and to say something intelligent while always thinking about it. So that's the difficult part. So you got two choices and in the end, what we end up doing is a little bit of both.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

So on the one hand, what you want to do is train yourself to think about your worst body language behaviours and try to change those. So let's say you have a nervous habit of folding your hands, wringing your hands like this. I'm holding them up so you can see them but imagine they're down around my waistline. People do this all the time, they have… I'll move the camera just a little bit. They do this kind of thing when they're nervous, it's self-protective. And so let's say that's your worst habit, then you want to cure yourself of that before you go get therapy for six months or do anything else. Because usually if you focus on them for three, four weeks, something like that, you can cure yourself of your worst habits. So that's step one.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And then step two is, without the therapist, to work on that mental attitude. And this'll sound a little woo-woo to your audience perhaps but I've had great success with working on mental imaging. It's the sort of thing that every couple of years when the Olympics happen again that we bring it up, it's safe to bring it up, because we all know that the Olympians do this all the time. You can't take a ski run at 90 miles an hour that's going to last two minutes total or a minute and a half total and not visually imagine that beforehand, it simply happens too fast. And you can't be going, should I turn here? As soon as you think about it it's too late, you've got to have that run baked into your consciousness by replaying it over and over again.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And if you watch any of the Olympics and you saw some of those Olympians, especially the skiers… I love watching the skiers before the event because they'd be going like this and they'd be doing these weird motions with their eyes shut and what they were doing was replaying that run in their head. That's what salespeople have to do when they're getting ready for a meeting, they've got to imagine themselves meeting that person confidently, having those first couple of light exchange bits of conversation, and then what happens? If you don't imagine it, it's going to catch you by surprise.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Excuse me. When we're caught by surprise our body language betrays us, it shows surprised body language, surprised body language doesn't look confident. And so if what you're trying to do is convey confidence as a salesperson, immediately you're going to start out with a problem. So it's about visual imaging, imagining yourself in the situations that you're likely to encounter. This of course is much, much easier after you've done it a couple of times and you know what it's actually going to look and feel like but you need to do this right from the get-go. So it's a bit of both, it's a bit of thinking about your body language and then imagining the scenario and imagining yourself doing well.

 

The Benefits of Mentally Rehearsing a Sales Meeting Before it Actually Happens · [08:05] 

 

Will Barron:

So I'm going to dumb this down for me as well as the audience, does this very practically mean that we sit in our car before we get out and we go to the building and we just have two minutes, eyes closed, eyes open, whatever, and we just imagine walking through the door, meeting the receptionist, getting taken to the CFO's office, knock on the door, walking in, sitting down, asking him how it's going and then imagining that we're in our confident and comfortable place when we sit down? Is that very literally what we're talking about?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

That's very literally what we're talking about, it sounds crazy, doesn't it? But that mental rehearsal will mean that when you actually do it your body language won't say, “Oops, this is a big surprise,” because you will have done it once before. And even if it's not exactly what you imagine, it's going to be close enough that your body won't be suddenly saying to you, “Hey, wait a minute, this is a shocker. This is something new, I'm suddenly scared.” And so it will help, you have to trust me on that one and try it. Try it out and you'll find that it does create a much more positive feeling as you walk in.

 

How to Spot When You’re Getting Nervous in Selling Situations · [09:17] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So I'm going to come back to this in a second because I want to see how that ties into walking into a meeting intention, which is what you opened the show with, Nick. But before that, how do we know our nervous ticks? How do we suss out whether we are rustling our hands or, I don't know, standing there with our arms crossed? Because a lot of this behaviour, as you described, is unconscious or subconscious, we're probably not in the moment thinking about ourselves and our body language if we are nervous. We are thinking how can we escape from this meeting as quick as possible, as soon as the deal's done? And again, that goes into intention, which we'll touch on. Other than going into a meeting and asking a CFO if we can film the conversation because you want to improve how you come across and look more confident, how do we suss out whether we do have these nervous giveaways?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, and that's tricky because we're not very good observers of ourselves. I frequently have the experience of working with somebody, coaching them, getting them ready for a speech and then they go give the speech and I'll say something like the hands, I'll say, “Hey, you had your hands in front of your stomach nervously twitching for the whole hour.” And they'll say, “No, I didn't. I was open and comfortable and relaxed the whole time.” And then we'll look at the video and sure enough, the hands are there. So we're not very good processors of our own body language, again because it's unconscious.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

So I would say the best thing to do, the best low cost solution to this aside from hiring an expensive coach, is to get a buddy, somebody who's in the same situation as you and understands what you're going through, so another salesperson, and doing a little role playing and doing a little rehearsal. If you're a solo operator then you're going to have to network and find somebody who's in roughly the same business but for me, that would be the best way to do it. You need somebody who you're pretty comfortable with, who you can get to know, so that the role playing doesn't feel too strange. But I find that's the best way, somebody else who's in the same boat as you, role playing it back and forth and getting a sense of… Once you trust them, being able to tell them what they're doing wrong and being able to hear yourself what you're doing wrong from them.

 

Will Barron:

I guess another layer on that as well, if you're doing reasonable sized B2B deals, none of us do it, we ought to do it more, we should be asking sales management to come out with us. We should be asking specialists within the company to come and spend time with us in front of our customers. Perhaps we could just mention to them, “Keep your eye out in case I do anything weird,” or, “I've got a weird twitch in my eye when I get asked a difficult question,” anything obvious that perhaps we're missing out on as well.

 

Are You An Intentional Salesperson? · [11:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So intention, Nick, what does this mean? Does this mean we shouldn't be coming in with the mindset of the old-school way of selling, I'm going to always be closing, I'm going to crush this person, this negotiation isn't something that is remotely possible for me to lose? Should we not be going into meetings with those intentions in our mind? And how does that play into the fact that we want to visualise them beforehand? So we do want to have some kind of control over the scenario, even if it's just to calm our nerves.

 

“I'm a big believer in listening more than you talk and connecting more than you try to dominate. And if you can do those things, I think you'll fair much better in sales.” – Dr. Nock Morgan · [13:13] 

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, I think a better intention is to think about a basic one, a simple one like, I'm going to connect with this other person or we're going to establish some trust. Or, this person and I are going to get along, we're going to have a friendly, comfortable relationship, whatever's important in that vein to you. Because that's the precursor for everything else, if you go in too strong thinking I'm going to crush it, then that early on aggressive behaviour may actually undercut what you're trying to do. And I think that might've been perhaps more typical a decade ago or two decades ago but I think now people expect you to show up with a little authenticity and a little humanity. And so I think the first step is really establishing a connection. And so that means, and I'm a big believer in this, in listening more than you talk and connecting more than you try to dominate. And if you can do those things, I think you'll fair much better.

 

Ways to Combat the Nerves Before a Sales Interaction · [13:20] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there a set of body language or the way that we should be speaking, this is a weird question to ask, to come across as authentic? Because I guess how do we know which version of us is the authentic one for the business scenario? And I'll give an example, I've just recently started going to Brazilian jujitsu and I've just been strangled by a bunch of people. And I've never done a martial art before, I've never done anything physical, the most physical sport I've ever done was basketball and this was a few years ago, so I'm totally uncomfortable. The gear that you wear, if anyone isn't familiar, essentially the dressing gown that you wear doesn't have pockets. So I'm constantly wanting to put my hands in my pockets, cross my arms, put my hands behind my back, and I can feel myself doing it.

 

Will Barron:

And I don't feel like I have to look confident in that scenario, I'm clearly brand-new to it, everyone's very respectful of that and it's a great family atmosphere to be in front of but I feel awkward there for the first time in perhaps a decade. This is the most awkward I've ever felt doing absolutely anything, never mind running businesses or speaking on stages we were talking about before we hit record here, Nick. I feel really uncomfortable about it but it's fine for me to feel uncomfortable and so that is probably the authentic me in that scenario. How do we know what we should be doing in perhaps the business scenario? Because as I said, it's probably not a good place to put across that you are authentically super nervous about meeting that CEO, right?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, I'm going to say as a flat-out thing, showing up with all your nervousness and being authentic about how terrified you are is probably not going to get you very far, sorry about that. And the reason for that is important to understand, people don't care about your intent and your body language as far as you're concerned. So when you show up, Will, at an important sale, that CFO isn't thinking, gee, I wonder how Will is feeling today. What that CFO automatically does is say to himself or herself, what does Will mean toward me? What's his intention to me? That's what we care about, we're hardwired to do that and that's from ancient survival tactics.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

When we meet somebody for the first time we ask ourselves, friend or foe? And that's because our bodies are constantly anticipating danger, we want to know when we're safe and when we're not safe. And so that other person that you're meeting cares about your intent toward him or her and so you need to think about, what's the intent that you want to convey to them? And it's probably not your terrified state or your nervousness because that's going to show up to them as either aggression or uncertainty or indecision, a bunch of things, none of them good. So I would say you've got to think…

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Sorry about that, I wish we could be authentic completely in all situations, wouldn't that be nice? None of us would ever have to get dressed or do any hard work but it doesn't work that way. So we have to think about, what's the intent I wish to show to the other person? And of course, in a business setting, we're not only representing ourselves but we're representing that business and that product that we're selling or that service that we're selling and so we have to think about, what intention do I need to connect with that? And if for instance let's just say you're selling cybersecurity, imagine showing up terrified and nervous to a meeting at which you're trying to sell security services, the disjunct would be too much.

 

Why a Lack of Confidence Will Eventually Cost You Deals · [17:20] 

 

Will Barron:

This is fantastic, you've just given us a higher level viewpoint and probably the starting point of all of this of… And tell me if I'm wrong, so it's not about us, it's about them. This is an opportunity for us to add value to them, so if you're nervous about it, you're not doing them any favours. So forget about your ego and looking daft and trying to manipulate your own body language so that you feel better, it's about them, right? And it's about us serving them, as the example that you gave there, or me selling medical devices. If you go in unconfident about the product… So a lot of MyTime medical devices, the surgeon had already bought it, I was there training them. If I go in unconfident, not… Clearly I knew what was going on, otherwise I wouldn't be put in the scenario where I'd be training a surgeon on how to use something but if I wasn't confident in my training of showing them, they're not going to be confident in using it and you're sucking value. You might as well have not gone in, right?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Absolutely. And I was in fact with a doctor the other day and we had lunch and he asked for the salad dressing on the side because that's the healthy alternative and he's a healthy doctor. And as he was pouring the salad dressing on, I couldn't help noticing that his hand was shaking like this. Now, how do you think that made me feel as somebody watching a doctor, a potential patient watching a doctor? We don't like their hands to shake, so we immediately start thinking about, how does this mean toward us? And so your example is a great one, if you don't show up with confidence in that training, then what the surgeons are going to get is a sense that this doesn't actually work very well or there's some reason to be uncertain about it.

 

Why Focus is Essential in Sales and Steps to Achieve it · [19:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So at the top of the show, Nick, you mentioned… We've covered somewhat intention, you mentioned focus. How does focus play into all of this?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, so focus is incredibly important and I think it's actually the hardest thing to get. Intention is tough enough because we all like to show up with intention every day but it's hard to marshal the unruly aspects of your body language, they can get away with you. We all have what we call tells in the poker world and so those things are hard to control but with time you can learn to master those. But I think the harder one really is focus because in our 24/7 online total information world, information is constantly coming at us and as we've recently come to realise, all the social media sites are set up to give us these tiny little pings of endorphins, of pleasure.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

So we get a response, we get a like to our Facebook post, whatever that is, and we go, oh, a little like. And it's not enough to make us happy for the rest of the day, right? It's enough to make us happy for about 20 seconds and then we crave another one. And so what does that do? That takes our attention and pulls it in the direction of that. We're always thinking, gee, am I going to get another like? Is this tweet going to get retweeted? All those silly things sound silly to say them out loud but that's what happens to us, they've snagged our brain. And so instead of showing up at a meeting and completely focusing on that meeting and being totally present there with the other people, what's happening is in the back of my mind there's that little itch, gee, I wish I could look at my cell phone. I'll wonder if he'll notice, maybe he'll go look at his and I can look at mine.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And you start bargaining with yourself, how much longer do I have to go before I look at my cell phone? Mobile phone, sorry, as you'd say in the UK. And it's that holding off of that little anticipated pleasure or disaster, maybe you'll get a horrible email so there's also nagging doubt in the back of your mind. So that all gets in the way of us focusing on the moment at hand. And so focus has always been tough, the Buddhists have been working on it for about 2000 years but I think it's particularly difficult now in this crazy, fast-paced, information overloaded era that we live in.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And so learning to put aside the distractions and just talk to yourself as you suggested I think very nicely, sitting in the car for two minutes beforehand replaying that little video you've got in your head of how the meeting should go but spending another additional minute saying, okay, I'm not going to think about all the things I have to do, all the meetings I've been to, all the meetings I've still got to go to. I'm just going to focus on this one now and see if I can stay in the moment there for that hour, that is a difficult thing to do and it hugely increases your charisma and impact on the other people in the room.

 

How to Use Your Body Language to Instantly Get Your Prospects Attention · [22:13] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there anything we can do if we're in a meeting with someone who has more authority in the social status or more authority in the corporate world? So perhaps a senior B2B salesperson meeting with a CFO, CTO, CEO, perhaps it's a one-on-one meeting, that person's clearly very busy, you've clearly done a good job to probably just get their time at all at this point and you're happy for that, you're humbled and very grateful for that. With all that said, they're looking at their phone every two seconds. So you've got focus, you've got good intention, you're there for them, you're in the moment, all the cliche stuff. You sat in your car and meditated for two hours beforehand, so you're in a great head space. You've done everything right and you're confident, you know your product, you know your service but they're not really paying attention to you.

 

Will Barron:

Is there anything you can do with your body language to demand attention? Whether it's speaking… I don't know whether this would be more charismatic, it depends on the scenario, but speaking with more ups and downs, waving your arms around a little bit more and being more energetic in the room. And these are all just off the top of my head, I don't know how daft they'd make you look, you'd have daftness on one side and losing attention versus attention on the other perhaps but is there anything you can do to snap them back into the moment? I don't know, is there anything you can do to grab someone's attention when they want to listen but they're addicted to that beep on their phone?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah. In the movies, what the Mafia does to get your attention is they bring in some really big guy who picks you up by the scruff of the neck and throws you against the wall and starts pummeling you. And you're really paying attention, you're totally focused at that point. So you're asking really, short of beating the other person up, what is it that you can do? And I think that's a great question. There's actually a tiny touch of seriousness in my Mafia comment because what you can do in a room often, if you think about it a little bit and do it in a way that's reasonably subtle, is if you change the relationship, the spatial relationship in the room, then that can really reignite the connection.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And so let me explain what I mean by that, we all monitor zones of space. So 12 feet or more is social space, 12 feet to four feet is social space. Sorry, 12 feet or more is public space, 12 feet to four feet… I'm making a complete hash of this now and confusing your poor listeners but 12 feet to four feet is social space, and that's typically where we sit in meetings. So we're across a table, something like that. We're usually somewhere between four and 12. Four to two and a half is personal space and then a foot and a half to zero in Western culture and very slightly around the world is intimate space. Now, let's go over those in reverse order. Intimate space, you don't know the person well enough, don't get too close. And we all have that very seriously hardwired into us, so you're not in any serious danger of that unless you're a psycho for some reason or it's a date, then intimate space might be very appropriate.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

So you're thinking personal space, that should be your objective, that's the foot and a half to four feet. That's the space that we inhabit when we shake hands. So think about that for a minute, you walk into the meeting, you shake hands with the CFO, we've been using that example, and so we're there in personal space. That's the point at which he or she is really paying attention. And then what happens is, we go to sit at a table or in a conference room, we could be anywhere from five feet to six or eight feet apart. And so what that says is, that handshake is really the most connected we are during the whole meeting, it's all downhill from there. So your goal is to figure out, is there a way I can get back into the personal space of my opposite party in a way that looks natural and appropriate?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And so you might want to think about having a sheet of paper let's say with some interesting data on it, so you can pick them up and say, “Let me show you this,” and then using a pen to point to things or underline things, that kind of thing. Or if you've got a laptop with some data on it, say, “Look, come around the table here,” or you come around to them and say, “Look, let's look at this data together.” Because that allows us then to get within that four foot to a foot and a half. So you're looking for some clever way to bring that relationship back to the nice cosy one you had when you shook hands, so that it doesn't feel like the high point of the meting was the handshake at the very beginning and it was all downhill after that. Does that make sense? Do you see what I'm saying?

 

How to Have an Insightful Meeting With a Powerful CEO Who’s Trying to Dominate You · [27:14] 

 

Will Barron:

It makes total sense and as you're saying that I'm visualising it, Nick. And there's going to be many stereotypes in this example I'm just about to give but if I imagine… This sounds ridiculous as I say it, if I imagine a CEO's office… And I've been in plenty of CEOs' office in the UK for the NHS and different private healthcare organisations and this has never been the case. So perhaps I'm imagining a corporate CEO, they've got a massive mahogany desk, it's quite wide so you can't physically get very close to it. It would be totally weird to come all the way around the edge of the desk to show them the iPad that you've got here rather than just turn it round. Do people in that position set up an office in that way to give them a perception of power over the people they're sat in front of?

 

Will Barron:

And as I say this, if I was going to do it, I'd have a big throne that I'm sat in, leather back, and I'd have the person in front of me sat in some crappy chair that's a foot lower than what mine is. It seems like there's plenty of ways to manipulate the scenario, is that something… Because clearly you do lots of executive coaching as well, is that something that people of that nature… And aligning the data with it that a lot of or a higher percentage of people in those positions have sociopathic tendencies and there's lots of other data on that side of things, does that play into it if you're playing in a high stakes level enterprise sales game when you would be dealing with these influencers and these high level players?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

I'm sorry to say yes, the cliche does happen and you will find yourself occasionally in a scenario exactly like you described, maybe not quite as luridly akimbo, off-kilter as that but close to it. But that said, what I typically see more often in that huge executive office is there's the big desk, sure but what happens is the CEO or the CXO, whoever it is, leads you to a table, a side table that they have somewhere and the two of you sit around the table so you can have your meeting and that's the much more human way to do it. And the reason for a CXO of some kind not to do that horrible scenario that you described is just that you don't get very good results doing that in the sense of, yeah, you've dominated the other person but if what you're doing is to try to make a choice amongst three vendors let's say and you're one of the salespeople, you're not going to learn much about the reality or not of that vendor and that product because you've loaded up the power relationship so much in your favour that the other person immediately feels small and is likely to go on the defensive and not be at their best self.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And that's really in the long run not what you want. And so what I find and certainly what I coach CEOs and others to do is to try to connect with people just as they're trying to connect with you. Because in the long run we're all human, we have to get something real out of the situation, otherwise we're just wasting our time and fooling ourselves. So as tempting as that scenario is to fantasise about, it's probably a little less likely in the reality.

 

How to Interact and Sell to Dominant Personalities · [30:32] 

 

Will Barron:

As you're saying that, if you're going in for a tender, you're one of three companies and you are sat behind a big desk, they've probably chosen who they want to go with, right? It's probably a clear signal that you need to up your game or you've done something wrong or offended them before the meeting's even happened. And just one thing on this because this is super intriguing, this is perhaps a whole show on its own in the not too distant future, Nick, but when someone is being like that in and out of sales, whether this be in a bar, whether this be someone in your social life trying to be dominant inappropriately for whatever reason, what's the best way in regards to trying not to get in a fist fight in a bar and trying to level the playing field if it's your missus or your husband wants you to do the dishes at home and you don't want to do them? How do we level the plying field with body language to not necessarily be aggressive but to say, “I'm standing here, this is where I'm at, I'm not backing down”? Is there any body language that we can use to portray that in less words than perhaps even saying it?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yes, there are a couple things you can do and let's talk about the survival one first and then the classier one second. But the first thing you can do, to go back to the business situation briefly, and you can also do this in the other scenarios you're describing, but let's say you're back behind that vast desk and you've got the tiny little chair and it's not as magnificent as the other. So the first thing to think about is, that scenario has been created by that executive in order to intimidate. So you want to show in a way that's not completely inappropriate, you don't want to pick up the chair and hurl it through a window, that would not get you the sale. So you can't do inappropriate things but think about, is there a way appropriately I can change that body language and that room setup to signal that I'm not going to accept that status quo?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And the answer is there is, a very simple thing you can do is you can pick up that chair and move it just a few inches closer to the des let's say. Or move it to one side or the other, so that the point is, it's not so much where you put it that matters but the fact that you're taking charge of that room and you're just reorganising it slightly. I used to coach applicants to some of these big fellowship programmes. So these were students, 20 year olds, who were being interviewed by an array of professors and highly powered people and they found that very intimidating. And one of the things I would coach them always to do, because they'd be given a chair much like the situation you're describing, in front of this array of professorial types. And I'd say, “Pick up that chair and move it somewhere so that you feel like in some little way you've taken control of that situation.”

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

So that's the first thing you can do. The second thing you can do, and this works better in bars and with your spouse and that kind of thing, is try to align yourself with their body language. And this works… In most settings you have to use it with care. For example, you mentioned earlier crossing your arms, so if your spouse is standing there like this or the other person in the bar is standing there like this with their arms folded, you don't really want to fold your arms too because all you're doing is escalating that situation. But what you do want to do is, if possible, align yourself with them in the sense that you're much better off facing in the same direction as they are.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And let me give you a quick example of what I mean, I was doing some work with some police departments and the classic scenario that we've all seen in the movies and TV shows when they're interrogating a suspect. And you know what that looks like, I've seen a thousand British crime shows and a thousand American crime shows and they look the same. Basically, it's a nasty little room, right? With some two-way mirror glass and then there's a horrible table and two uncomfortable looking chairs and they're across the table from each other. And so what happens is, the suspect is sitting down, in comes the threatening policeman, sits down in the other chair, confronts him, the criminal, or her, across the table, okay? That's the scenario.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And what I had coached them to do was doing [inaudible 00:35:06] confrontational, I'm across from the other person. I said, “Why don't you take the chair and put it around and sit down on the same side of the table as the apparent criminal?” And they were really puzzled by that, “First of all, why would we do that?” And I said, “Well, because what you're doing is you're aligning yourself with them, so rather than confronting that person and asking the questions, you're saying, ‘Hey buddy, I'm on the same side as you, why don't you tell me what happened?'” And they found that confessions went up 50% when they sat on the same side of the table as across from them, it's extraordinary.

 

Will Barron:

It's interesting, it seems like you don't need to escalate the problem you're describing then, if someone's confrontational in a bar for example, if you stand in front of them and cross your arms, it's almost like saying, “Right, I'm ready to rock and roll.” Versus, as you were saying that and as I was visualising it, if you then leant against the wall alongside them or leant against the bar or didn't cross your arms but got to get next to them, it's very difficult for someone to… Also, it's very difficult for someone to sucker punch you in the face when they're stood next to you as opposed to in front of you, so that's probably one case point for this. But it's really difficult for someone to be mad when they're talking across their shoulder versus in your face.

 

Body Language in Virtual Meetings · [36:34] 

 

Will Barron:

So there's probably a whole nother show on this to dive into, Nick, but I just wanted to touch on that as it struck a chord with me as you were going through it. And final thing I want to ask you, and this is probably going to have to be a yes or no answer, which I'll tee up for the next episode we will record, how much of this works when we're on the phone? How much of this translates through a Skype business call? How much of this translates I guess through email with the voice, where we're repeating how they talk back to us? Is it transferable what we've learnt in this episode to non in person meetings?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, it's a great question and it's what my next book is about, so thanks for asking me. The quick answer is no, it's not transferable and that's one of the huge problems of the virtual world. And so what I talk about in the book is lots and lots of ways to put those emotional connections back in. Because the virtual world, while it's very convenient and allows us to reach all kinds of people we never could before and send out huge amounts of information we never could before without great expense, those are wonderful things about it but the huge hidden downside is that it makes emotional connections much more difficult and much more fragile. And so without getting too deeply into it, that's the quick answer, there are lots of things you need to do to think about how to communicate differently in the virtual world.

 

The Effectiveness of Virtual Versus In-Person Sales Meetings · [37:50] 

 

Will Barron:

I guess one final question, just to end with a real practical element to the show here, Nick, if we've got the option, should we go for a video call with a potential customer, to have a sales conversation, consulting conversation, whatever it is? Or is it okay to do it over a phone call? Is there advantages hopefully considering that we're not sat in our boxer shorts on a video call with no shirt on, considering we're all appropriately dressed, that we are appropriate with our body language, is there a competitive advantage over a salesperson who gets on video calls versus their competition who are only using voice calls?

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah, you'd think, wouldn't you? That since you're adding the visual element that it's just that much better. It turns out in all kinds of interesting ways that the video call is actually more stressful than an audio call. So the real answer is, without getting into all the ways in which video conferencing is misleading and gives you faulty information, the quick answer is that you should have a video call if you can but you should keep it very, very short because our experience of video conferencing is that it's tiring and the basic reason is that we think we have sight and smell… We think we have five sense but actually, what the neuroscientists are learning is we have at least a dozen senses, things that our unconscious mind is scanning for all the time.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

And most of those are still left out of video calls and so what happens is, when we don't get data in on those senses, imagine it's like a phone call when it's going… And it's winking in and out all the time, what do you do? Well, you tend to shout and speak slower and say the same thing over and over again and it's incredibly stressful, right? So video conferences, even though it looks like it's going well, also are stressful in the same way. So there's a lot more to be said about it, that's just a very quick overview. But keep your video conferences short and then they can be helpful but just remember, it's not the same still as being there in person.

 

Parting Thoughts · [40:10] 

 

Will Barron:

I was not expecting that, so thank you for that, Nick, and we'll touch on that the next time we record for sure. And you've set something in my mind here of something I wanted to do for a long time, was bring people into the studio, do in person as well as these Skype interviews. So you've tickled me there if that's something I really need to consider because the whole show's dynamic might even change. And then with that, mate, with excitement from me of the possibilities of that moving forward. Tell us a little bit about… You've mentioned a couple of books here, tell us about the books, tell us where we can find out more about you as well.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Yeah. So my latest book came out in 2014, it sounds like a long time ago now, so I've written another one. But that's 2014, Power Cues. You can find that on our website, which is publicwords with a D, .com and that's a great way to get in touch with us. We also have tonnes and tonnes of free information on there about the kinds of things we've been talking about. So lots of great free resources as well as things you need to shell out £15 for. And the new book is called Can You Hear me? And it's about the digital world and that should be out in October.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I appreciate that, mate. I appreciate we've gone slightly over time here so I appreciate you hanging on, Nick. I want to thank you for your time, mate, I want to thank you for your expertise as always. I really enjoyed this one and I want to thank you for joining us on the The Salesman Podcast.

 

Dr. Nick Morgan:

Thanks, Will.

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