left shoulder, like when you shake hands,”
she says, explaining that it will create a
sense of intimacy rather than one of distance. Another key, one that perhaps can’t
always be controlled, is aiming for a smart
strategic placement with your seating.
“Do NOT sit directly opposite the person
you are trying to persuade,” Driver empha-
sizes. “That increases anxiety and makes the
She says that sitting off to about a 30-de-
gree angle from the main decision maker is
optimal during a negotiation.
When possible, try getting up and walking alongside your negotiating counterpart,
which comfortably allows you into their
“personal space” and also leads to more
open conversation, Driver says.
“When we move, we become more open,”
she explains. “It’s like the old expression
‘move your body, move your mind.’”
It’s also crucial, when in someone’s per-
sonal space—such as during a side-by-side
stroll—to be upbeat, positive and talk about
the things you’re excited about, rather than
And when group photos or presentations
take place, Driver says those individuals
standing in the middle are psychologically
perceived as being the most important.
“It’s all subtle, but really adds up,”
READING THE SIGNS
When it comes to looking for nonverbal
messages from your negotiating counter-
parts, “a glass table is the best tool you can
have,” Driver says, explaining that “some-
times our toes tell us more than our mouth.”
For example, something she’s seen in
law enforcement frequently—and a red
flag that helps her avoid uncomfortably
shy volunteers when doing seminars—is
that people are constraining themselves
when they hold/fold back their feet and
toes while seated.
Another key “foot note” is that people tend to go “up on their toes” when
enthused, Driver says, an action that you
might want to respond to.
People also tend to point their feet and
belly buttons in the direction they want to
move in or aim their attention. So if someone is looking you in the eye but their feet
are pointed toward the exit sign you might
not truly have their full attention.
Similarly, if all belly buttons at a meeting table are pointed at one person, they
are clearly an influencer worth emulating,
Driver says, which is where the concept of
“mirroring” comes into play.
She calls this technique tremendously
helpful in winning favor, and it basically
involves subtly imitating the top influencer three to four seconds after some of
their trademark body language.
“If they lean back, you lean back,” Driver explains, stressing that for the strategy
to be effective the brief delay is crucial.
Nicknamed “The Lyin’ Tamer” for her keen
ability to spot possible deception, Driver
knows a few red flags to watch for that
might indicate dishonesty.
The two top “tells” in this area, she
explains, are smirks and shrugs. The smirk,
which can indicate someone faking moral
superiority, is a top sign someone is being
misleading, Driver notes, while the shrug is
a bit more open to interpretation.
“The shoulder shrug indicates uncertain-
ty,” she explains. “So if someone is saying
‘yes’ or ‘no’ but also shrugging, they’re
holding something back.”
A similar red flag is physical movement
that isn’t “integrated,” such as someone ex-
citedly waving their arms about while their
lower body remains stock-still—which
And on a final note, Driver says one of
the best nonverbal moves you can make is
to simply quiet down and listen up.
“I use the acronym WAIT—for Why Am
I Talking?—to remember how key listening
is, [during negotiation],” she says, adding
that one of her favorite improv exercises
focuses on the topic.
“You just break into groups of two and
have a chat where each person has to start
off their next sentence with the last word
of the other person’s sentence,” she explains, adding that the activity reveals how
infrequently we really listen.
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Negotiating Techniques For The Win
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