Although this was directed to more of a safety application, I think it's applicable anywhere, anytime:


Using Body Language to Gain an Edge

By Mark D. Hansen, CSP, PE, CPE, CPEA

Job seeking doesn’t end when you get the offer. The final step in the process is in many ways the most important. If and when you land that new position, you must negotiate the best deal you can. Learning how to negotiate isn’t easy. After all, this isn’t something they teach as part of professional safety training. So let me see if I can lend a hand — in fact, a whole body.

Negotiators Don’t Talk Just With Their Mouths

What does it take to be a “skilled negotiator”? The trait that comes most readily to mind is skill in verbal give-and-take. In fact, much of negotiation is verbal. But in negotiation, understanding what isn’t spoken can also make a vital difference. Negotiators talk not just with their mouths but with their entire body. If you can read the body language of those you negotiate with, you can thus gain a tactical edge over them.

Six Body Language Pointers

Here are six pointers to help you decipher your opponent’s body language and turn it into a negotiating advantage.

1. Scope Out Your Opponent’s Character Early

Negotiators are most likely to reveal their real character — as opposed to their negotiating character — during the first, and usually friendly, part of your meeting. This is when greetings and small talk are exchanged and before the actual negotiation starts. Observe your negotiating counterpart very carefully at this point. If their mannerisms suddenly change later in the discussion once the negotiating has started in earnest, it could mean they’re putting on an act.

2. Be Alert for Posturing

Watch for exaggerated movements or extreme enthusiasm on the part of your negotiating opponent. Like poker players who hurl chips on the table or slam down cards, such behavior often suggests the person is holding a weak hand.

3. Watch for Breathing Patterns

Observing how a person is breathing can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling. Pick up on your opponents’ breathing patterns by watching their shoulders. Faster breathing high in the chest will make their shoulders rise and fall more than normal. Rapid breathing is a sign that a person is nervous or lying.

4. Keep Your Eyes on the Opponent

Don’t take the bait when your opponent slides papers across the table and asks you to read them. Instead of breaking eye contact, say, “Tell me about it. What does it say?”

5. Know the Signs of Deception

Consider these as possible signs of deception when opponents use them while speaking: covering the mouth with the hands, rubbing the side of the nose, jerking the head quickly and leaning away from you.

6. Know the Signs of Sincerity

Look for positive signs that show you can trust those you’re negotiating with. The wider the gesture, the more you can trust them.


One more thing to keep in mind: Body language works both ways. If your opponent is an experienced negotiator, chances are good that he or she will be observing your posture, gestures, breathing patterns, etc. Be aware of this and try to use it to your advantage. By using your body to transmit the appropriate message to your negotiating opponent, you’ll enhance the chances of securing the right deal and, just as importantly, keeping the negotiation amicable.


By Glenn Demby

Negotiating a salary is a sensitive process and it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are what experts cite as six of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Not Doing Your Homework
There are certain things you need to determine before asking for a specific salary or range:

How much do you need and want?

What do comparable safety professionals in your region earn?

Does the prospective employer follow specific pay ranges/grades or is there room for negotiation?

2. Discussing Salary Before You Have a Firm Job Offer

If a prospective employer asks you how much you’re seeking to make, say something like “negotiable” or “flexible.” Better to sound evasive than to pin yourself to a figure that might eliminate you from consideration.

3. Not Understanding the Offer

Consider not just the salary but the entire compensation package including benefits and other perks.

4. Saying Yes Right Away

Sometimes the elation of receiving an offer gets in the way of scrutinizing the terms of the offer. So express enthusiasm and appreciation when you get the offer, but ask for at least 24 hours to think it over.

5. Not Being Ready to Walk Away

It’s not easy to turn down an offer, especially after all the trouble you went to to secure it. But unless you’re prepared to walk away, you’ll be at a serious negotiating disadvantage.

6. Not Getting It in Writing

Ask the prospective employer to put the key terms of the final offer on paper, including starting salary, benefits, job title and starting date.

Author Biography - Mark D. Hansen, CSP, PE, CPE, CPEA

Mr. Hansen has over twenty years experience in the field and holds certifications in safety and ergonomics and is a licensed professional engineer. Mr. Hansen has a BSc in Psychology and a MSc in Industrial Engineering, specializing in Safety, both from Texas A&M University.

Mr. Hansen is currently the Past-President of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). He has authored over 100 technical publications and has published a book on career development entitled "Out of the Box, Skills for Developing Your Own Career Path," released in April 2002. He currently has several other books being developed, including "Getting to the Corner Office," "The Business of Safety," and "Software Safety: The Last Frontier."

Mr. Hansen is the past recipient of the Edgar Queeny Monsanto Safety Professional of the Year Award in 1992-1993 and the Culbertson Outstanding Volunteer Service Award in 1991-1992 issued by ASSE.