I love words. Yet people derive 60% – 80% of our meaning (our intentional meaning or our unintentional meaning) through something OTHER than our words!
I found this book very insightful: Louder than Words: Take Your Career from Average to Exceptional with the Hidden Power of Nonverbal Intelligence by Joe Navarro (FBI Special Agent ret.) with Toni Sciarra Poynter. Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2010. Author Joe Navarro describes the many ways we send messages: through our attitudes, our clothes, our body language, our manners, and more.
Here is one tidbit from this book that will help you in all your relationships, and particularly in your sales conversations. If this resonates with you, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the book. I loved the diagrams of body positions and their associated meanings.
He calls this the comfort/discomfort paradigm. He created this as a simple way to help his students and trainees understand what they were seeing in others, quickly and easily. Once he started to organize his information about nonverbal communication around the comfort/discomfort paradigm, it was easier for his students to see which of these two poles: comfortable or uncomfortable, each subject was exhibiting.
From the book, here are just a few words associated with each feeling.
Signs of comfort Signs of discomfort
openness occlusion (or closing)
He asks: “Which side of the Comfort/Discomfort Paradigm is conducive to effective leadership, nurturing business clients, effective selling, and dealing satisfactorily with human resource issues? I’m sure you immediately appreciate how essential it is to cultivate comfort in business settings, because the effects of these behaviors are so profound. Issues of discomfort must always be addressed and comfort restored before productive work can be pursued….if you’re in a stressful business situation and draw a blank on everything you’ve learned about nonverbal intelligence, just ask yourself, ‘Is this behavior consistent with comfort or discomfort?’ If you do that, most of the time you’ll be able to get things back on track.” p. 24
Because my goal as a business coach is always to increase sales for my clients, I want to share some ways he recommends to create comfort with your prospects. (Of course, you can use this paradigm and these tips in ALL your relationships.)
1. Mirror your prospect VERBALLY. In verbal mirroring, you use their exact language when you speak with them. If they talk about being “worried about money”, you can talk about how your work or offer can help them “stop worrying about money”.
The key here is to move out of YOUR language and into THEIR language. You may like to talk about “creating financial security” but if they are “worried about money”, then you will talk about how to “stop worrying about money”. Navarro notes that using your prospect’s language will INCREASE their comfort level; sticking with your specific language doesn’t increase their comfort level. If your language is quite different from your prospect’s, you may actually increase their DISCOMFORT level.
2. Mirror your prospect PHYSICALLY. Navarro points out that “Mirroring — matching each other’s movements and postures — is our most powerful interpersonal comfort display.” p. 30. Many women do this unconsciously. When our conversation partner is talking about something joyful or exciting, our faces light up as we listen. When our conversation partner describes a distressing event, we wrinkle our face and we look sad in sympathy with them.
Another component to physical mirroring is to mirror the body position of your partner. If their legs are crossed, you cross your legs in the same direction. If they lean in, you lean in. This will amplify what they are feeling, so naturally the one exception is that you don’t want to mirror closed-off or defensive body language. If they hug their torso with their arms in a protective way, or they turn away from you, you certainly don’t want to mirror, and therefore amplify, their discomfort.
3. Consider whether the physical environment you are in is adding to their comfort level or to their discomfort level. Is the physical place in which you two are meeting conducive to calmness, serenity, and relaxation? Or to anxiety, turbulence, and tension? Whatever is under YOUR control in the environment, take a close look at the impression it creates. I have a friend who recently visited a highly qualified doctor and decided to never return, because both his staff and the physical contents of his office were completely disorganized.
4. Beyond your body language, make sure your other nonverbals are increasing your prospect’s comfort. These other nonverbals include your attitude, your manners, your dress, and more.
CALL TO ACTION
Traditional sales conversations can bring up a lot of anxiety for you AND for your prospect. To help keep both of you comfortable, try the tips above.
If you find you’re still uncomfortable, or you’re not converting prospects into clients, then contact me for a complimentary Strategy Session. We’ll explore your current sales situation, your goals, and next steps to move into profitability NOW, before the year is over. I invite you to email me at email@example.com and we’ll easily set up a confidential one-on-one conversation to help you move forward NOW.
Simply email me firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set that up right away.