What can your client's body tell you?

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The ability to read body language can be invaluable to planners, as it enables them to recognise and respond to clients’ negativity, fast.

Body language expert Allan Pease explains how planners can read the simple gestures of their clients to discover whether they are interested, unsure, or about to walk out the door.

The Critical Evaluation gesture

It may sound familiar: Hand to the face, with the index finger pointing up the cheek while another finger covers the mouth and the thumb supports the chin. This means your client is thinking critical thoughts about what you are saying.

Other critical gestures include tightly crossed legs, arm crossing the body (defensive), while the head and chin are down (negative/hostile). Pease says that in this case, your customer is non-verbally telling you, “I don't like what you're saying”, “I disagree” or “I'm holding back negative feelings”.

What to do

If you see these gestures, Pease says you need to act quickly to move your customer into a more receptive position. "A simple but effective tactic is to give your customer something to hold or do – handing them a pen, book, brochure or a sample can work wonders.

"Asking your customer to lean forward to look at a visual presentation can also be an effective means of opening the arms-folded position. You could also lean forward with your palms up and say, “I can see you have a question. What would you like to know?” or, “What's your opinion?” You then sit or lean back to indicate that it's their turn to speak. Your palms-up gesture tells your customer you want them to be open and honest because that's what you're being."

Decision time

When it’s time for clients to make a decision, keep a close eye out for these giveaways:

  • Chin stroke – the decision-making is in progress. If they start to fold their arms, you might want to jump in before the ‘no’ is verbalised
  • Stalling – this can be in the form of playing with glasses, pens or anything else they can get their hands on. They need reassurance
  • Exposed palms – If they are giving valid reasons for saying no, they will usually show their palms. If they aren’t telling the truth, they’re likely to conceal them

Learn more at Pease International.