There is an old adage that “Buyers are liars”. I hear it all the time when Realtors talk about a particular buyer who told them one thing and then went and did something completely different. Why do they do that? What AREN’T we getting?
The answer is body language or non-verbal communication. All of us have the belief that good communication is key to a great friendship, marriage and professional partnership. If I was to ask you how you communicated to everyone you meet on a daily basis, you would most likely say that it is through verbal communication or talking. That would make sense. I will challenge that today; and tell you that what you DON’T say is far more important that what you DO say.
A few years ago, UCLA did a study to find out what percentage of communication is through verbal communication, body language and tone of voice. What they found was absolutely astonishing. Only 7% of what we say is communicated through words or verbally. Tone of voice came in second with 38% of communication. Body language communicated 55% of what we say every day! Over half of what we say is communicated without words! With body language and tone of voice together, 93% of our communication is absolutely non-verbal.
When I found this out, I was shocked and wanted to know what my body language was saying to my buyers and prospective clients. So I asked a friend to video me as I had a conversation with a co-worker in a model home. I found out that I rock back and forth from foot to foot which made it seem like I was wanting them to hurry up and get on with the story. It shows impatience. I had to make that the goal of every conversation from then on and focus a good part of my energy on standing still.
Your buyers and sellers will tell you everything if you’re listening with ears and eyes. For example, a customer walks in to an open house with arms folded and the corners of his mouth are down. You’re talking about whether or not he likes the home. He SAYS he likes it, but his body language is closed off and negative which means there’s something wrong or he’s definitely not into it.
So what do you do? Take their word for it? No. Ask questions about their body language. For instance you might say, “You’re saying yes, but it seems like you’re worried about something. What are you thinking about?”
Allow them to open up about their negative body language. You will also need to learn how to view frustration in your clients’ non-verbal communication. If they get fidgety or lose eye contact with you, stop what you’re doing and ask them a question. A good one that gest them to open up is, “What are some of your thoughts or concerns?”
Here are some tips to help you begin communicating better with your clients concerning your own body language and also being aware of theirs.
- Pay more attention to their body language. Make it a point to see if they’re open or closed off. If they’re closed, stop and ask a question about their non-verbal communication.
- Pay more attention to your body language. If you’re standing with your arms folded, fidgeting, frowning, shaking your head or not making eye contact, you need to know. Ask a good friend or colleague to observe you and see what you need to work on.
- Think about your tone of voice. If you’re happy then you need to make sure your voice sounds animated. If you are showing empathy for someone, then you need to lower your tone and make sure they understand that you genuinely care.
- Make good eye contact. My father is a Baptist preacher and he always told me not to trust anyone that doesn’t look you in the eye! They have something to hide! In very few cultural situations will you need to not think anything about limited eye contact. But for you as a trusted advisor/Realtor; YOU need to make sure you let everyone know that you can be trusted and look people square in the eye.
I will leave you with a couple of quotes from gentlemen that were legendary in understanding humans and human nature. Remember, buyers are NOT liars…sometimes they’re just telling you things you can’t hear! You have to see it.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.”