By December 13, 2018

Border security negotiation on live camera

Very recently Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer negotiated live in front of media about whether border security demands that a wall be constructed for the US or not. Here are eight body language tips on what to avoid during negotiations in order to communicate more effectively with your counterpart. We have maintained the time of the snapshot in the clip so that you can refer to it if you wish.




Most of us who are aware of basic body language would acknowledge that leaning forward shows interest in the topic being discussed. We would recommend limiting just how much forward you lean. Here we can see Trump not only leaning forward but also sitting towards the edge of the chair. It could work against making you look powerful.




Can you see the lips of both negotiators moving at once – Trump and Pelosi? Often when we don’t see eye to eye on a topic, and don’t want to be the one to take a step back and appear less dominant, we shift our conversation partner to someone else but the person we really want to negotiate with. Is this helpful? We would want to think not.




We see Trump constantly speaking without maintaining eye contact with Pelosi which can happen when two people don’t see the same issue in the same light. Here the context also could be that since these leaders are all seated in front of cameras, they also want to look at the reporters while speaking. But no eye contact with your fellow negotiator is not only disrespectful, it can also heat up the debate in what is already a tough situation to begin with.




Here you see Trump so eager to influence Pelosi that he shifts forward from a position where he is already seated on the edge of the chair. The effect of this? Pelosi shifts backwards because she subconsciously sees Trump to be entering her personal space by moving forward, and placing his foot forward. This could also put her on the defensive without her realizing it.




Trump is smiling with contempt at the proposal being made by his counterpart Schumer. Really? One of the easiest ways to offend a fellow negotiator is by showing contempt for the points being put across by him.




The tilted neck is “supposed” to show Trump to be listening to Schumer. But here again is the smile of contempt on his face, undermining his posture of listening. Body language never lies and the good observers can make out when you are trying to show something different than what you feel.




The very next second after we paused the clip here, you see Trump making a comment that he agrees with Nancy. Not if you look at his body language in this snapshot. The crossed hands and the pursed lips suggest he has something else in his mind while she is putting her points across. This again is an example of what happens if you are not watchful of your body language, which is quick to reveal your true thinking and, this time, how it is different from what you are saying.




Mirroring can be effective way in which parties connect with each other since the similar actions make them feel they are on the same side. But mirroring can work against a conversation if signals of closed body positions get mirrored, whether consciously or unconsciously. Here is Trump mirroring the closed body position of Schumer. At the very next second after this body language, we see them starting to disagree even though previously they were verbally trying to come to an agreement.


Attend our workshop in April ’19 scheduled in Bengaluru: Sharpening Negotiation Skills.

Like to know more about conducting negotiations using the right body language, and reading your counterpart well? Call us on 022 67208017

Photo credit: Youtube, Washington Post

Posted in: How To's, Personalities

About the Author:

Khyati Bhatt has trained for mastery in Nonverbal Communication with retired FBI special agent Joe Navarro. She founded Simply Body Talk in 2013 to help individuals and corporates fine tune their nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication. Khyati believes in taking a scientific approach to body language. Her experience as a wealth manager, currency trader, and family entrepreneur has helped sharpen her nonverbal instincts. She is a fervent reader and has explored the work of many psychologists and anthropologists in her field of work.

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