Ever been to a therapist and felt like they’ve read you like a book? Uncover their secrets in this article and harness your own superpowers. Got a big meeting or negotiation coming up? Learn how your adversaries and your team tick to make sure you stay in control.
My partner has a superpower.
When he opens the front door to a stranger he can tell what kind of day they’ve had, how they feel about themselves and what they think of him. He’s a therapist, and honing these skills day after day through years of human interaction have saved him (and his clients) hours of questions and warm up chit chat.
He can cut straight to the chase and use their shared time in the most effective way that meets their needs.
They often feel relieved, understood and grateful that they don’t have to take the first step of opening up and being vulnerable.
It gives him a steer on what tone he needs to take, what topics they may need to explore and what the weather is like in their emotional forecast.
A therapist has an arsenal of tools ready to deploy – this super quick scanning ability means he’s on the front foot and taking charge before he’s even said hello.
Master your own superpowers
The good news for procurement and supply chain pros around the world is that these skills can be learned. We’ve all seen the TedTalks and infographics reminding us of how much we communicate nonverbally through posture, eye contact and even vibes. A therapist’s superpower helps to demonstrate how much untapped potential there is in the way we hold ourselves and once you learn the signs, you can feel like a mind reader.
Imagine walking into a negotiation clocking every single person in the room based on the seats they’ve chosen to sit in, the set of their jaw, their gaze (fixed, nervous, darting around) and the colours they’re wearing. This includes your own team as well, it can help show who might need a bit of support, who’s at risk of spilling the beans and who might be the over-sharer.
Having the best negotiation plan in the history of procurement does not mitigate against the might of the ever unpredictable human being. We’re people, not machines and that means we can be unpredictable but paradoxically we will often have a billboard above our heads announcing our inner emotional state. We just need to learn to read the signs.
Experiment in your everyday life
Start practicing in your daily life by observing people around you. Look at how people hold themselves, their posture, their eyes, their energy levels, their expression when they’re talking to someone else. You can do this in the lift, on the bus, in conversation with a loved one and when you’re walking down the street. Observing people is not the same as judging, don’t make this mistake. It’s important that you are approaching this exercise from a place of detachment, objectivity and kindness.
David Attenborough ain’t got nothing on you
Once you’ve narrated your own nature documentary about humans you’ve stared at on the bus, then progress to unpack what they’re telling you nonverbally. Start to think about what the expressions might mean, what they could be communicating and what this means for you.
|Posture: slouching, or intensely concentrating – furrowed brow, arms crossed||Look at the symbol beneath the gestures. Slouching conveys being relaxed but too relaxed comes across as unreliable. Concentrating can come across as angry which can put you in the box of “unapproachable” Arms crossed means the person is not buying in to what you’re saying or they feel defensive||The slouchy person can’t be relied on to win people over when the razzle dazzle is needed but would be good to talk to before you do a presentation to make sure you’re feeling relaxed|
|Fast talking and being overly friendly may indicate someone that feels the need to have everyone like them.||A people pleaser can be great for assisting with establishing connections and winning people over but they may not be best placed to head to head on the details or key issues.|
The ultimate survival guide (we got you)
Follow these neutral gestures and postures to ensure you’re the cool, calm and collected procurement pro at all times.
- Always sit up straight.
- Relax your face and voice. A tip is to take a big breath, smile, put your tongue behind your top two teeth (and keeping your mouth closed) exhale gently but firmly, it’s a great way to calm yourself down on the spot.
- If you’re a fidgeter, then restrict yourself to only one item on the table.
- Maintain direct, but relaxed eye contact. If you smile it will soften your gaze.
- Be comfortable in silence and don’t feel the need to fill the space.
Level up and feel the power!
Got a huge presentation or meeting to nail? Then lock in these two strategies from Forbes:
- Power priming. Think of a past event where you were successful, recall this event and spend time in that feeling. Soaking yourself in this feeling means you can recall it when you need to.
- Power pose. There is a lot of research that shows if you strike a particular pose like standing with your legs and arms wide open for 2 minutes, it will stimulate the hormone linked to power and dominance (testosterone).
Follow our body language hacks to ensure your negotiation or big event goes down as a winner.
Do you have any tried-and-true strategies? Comment below!