Janine Driver knows that body language plays an important role in how people communicate. The author brought her knowledge to Auto Glass Week™ in West Palm Beach, Fla., to help businesses explode their sales.
“What are you saying without saying a word? And what are you customers saying,” said Driver during her program opener.
The first point she made to attendees is that when a customer or job applicant says they made a decision on something, it doesn’t always mean they followed through.
“‘We’ve decided to go somewhere else,’ doesn’t mean they’ve already done it. When a customer says they’ve decided something, it’s your overtime moment. You can still grab the sale,” she said. “If a job applicant says they decided to quit smoking marijuana years ago, that doesn’t mean that they did. Ask more questions.”
According to Driver, a shoulder shrug is an uncertainty cue.
“If a customer shrugs, you or your team should say, ‘Maybe I’m wrong here, but it appears to me that there’s something you’re not telling me.’”
Driver also emphasized that when a customer crosses their arms, it does not mean they are unhappy and that you should start to negotiate.
“The biggest myth is that crossed arms means someone is bored, disinterested or defensive. Really, they are just thinking,” she explained.
The words “that’s all I can say” are also a tell, according to Driver. She explained to attendees that a customer or job applicant who uses the phrase has something that they aren’t saying.
“Be okay with silence. Less is more. Just say, ‘Great, what is it you can’t say?’ People are uncomfortable with silence, and they might talk if you just wait,” said Driver.
Another form of subtle communication is offering evidence before asked. She explained that people tend to tell someone who they are rather than who they are not.
A mom would say that she is the mother of two sons, rather than saying she is not the mother of three daughters. Driver used another example of President Richard Nixon, who said, “I am not a crook.”
“People tell you who they are, not who they are not. Nixon offered evidence in his language,” said Driver. “It’s the same as a guy on a first date who says, ‘I’m not a cheater.’ Why are they telling you that?”
Certain stances and postures are perceived as more powerful. The person standing in the center of a room or crowd will make people think they are in a position of power or well liked, according to Driver.
“The people who stood in the center on the game show ‘Weakest Link’ were much more likely to win than someone standing on the outside of the semicircle,” she said.
Driver advised attendees to frame themselves within a doorway in order to give off the appearance of importance. Taking up space within a frame or room is also more powerful than making the body small while looking at a cell phone.
“Also, don’t sit directly across from someone,” she urged. “Sit 30-percent off center so you can give them a way out. It’s less intimidating. Hiding your hands makes it seem like you’re hiding something. So keep your hands visible and make sure you’re facing them, not giving them the cold shoulder.”
Driver explained that questioning why someone did something can come off as accusatory.
She said that instead of asking, “Why do you need your windshield replaced,” ask “What happened to your windshield,” or, “How did this happen?”
The seminar ended with an homage to Driver’s mother, who died of breast cancer four years ago. Driver encouraged attendees to live life to level 10 and showed a video of her mother that embodied that idea.