When Bad Body Language Kills Your Real Estate Deal

Bad Body LanguageOne lovely morning last week when we didn’t have any early meetings, we strolled along the seawall towards Starbucks. As we were attaching the leashes to the fence outside the shop another fellow walked up with a dog. We smiled, motioned to our pups and suggested he tie his dog up on the other side of the outdoor sitting area to keep things calm while we all went inside to enjoy a coffee.

He nodded and stopped where he could tie up his dog at a nice distance from ours. All was well.

Inside, as we were waiting for our drinks to come up on the bar he commented on what good dogs we have. I smiled and gave a silent thanks that they were in fact being good at that moment.

I commented on how good looking his dog was and he started telling us the story of how he came to have his dog as part of his family. It was a good story. He’d rescued his dog from a bad situation in the middle of the winter. I was smiling and nodding – encouraging him to go on – until he took a step towards me.

He’d moved into my space and had made me completely uneasy. I couldn’t end that conversation fast enough.

He probably had no idea what happened. I was totally into it one second and running away the next.

Unfortunately the same thing happens to so many people when they are raising money, presenting offers or even showing properties to tenants. When you are trying to build rapport, engage someone in a conversation and ultimately influence their action you need to be aware – very aware – of what you say and do and how it impacts other people.

The words you use are important but your message is impacted DRAMATICALLY by the things you do more than anything else. Where are your hands? What are they doing when you speak? Where are your feet pointing? What is your posture like?

Your Body Language Can Kill Your Real Estate Deal

I have spent a lot of time observing and thinking about body language in real estate. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and learning from someone who is a worldwide known expert on body language, influence and persuasion (more on him in a minute). And, after hosting 10 different live workshops across Canada on raising money for your real estate deals, I’ve seen a lot of bad body language in action. When someone tells me they have been struggling to raise money, a quick look at what they do when they are talking about their deals can reveal a lot.

Here’s three of the most common things I’ve seen that kill deals (and while these things are most obviously going to impact your attempt to raise money it absolutely will impact your conversations with tenants, sellers, buyers and anybody else in your life that you’re trying to influence in any way!). Check to see if you’re guilty of any of them.

Body Language in Real Estate Tip One: Ignore that itch – scratching makes you look nervous!

In our workshops, when I walk up to a pair who are practicing their money raising conversations I can usually tell within 5 seconds who is the one presenting a deal and who is the one listening. The person presenting is often scratching or rubbing something.

We rub our arms to self soothe which means you’re uncomfortable. Itching anything makes you look nervous.

Get control of those hands. You’ll look and feel a lot more confident.

In Kevin Hogan’s newest book Invisible Influence  he pointedly says NEVER touch your face. “Do not touch your face. It is never perceived as professional or attractive and can indicate deception.” (Kevin is the influence and persuasion expert I mentioned above. This is his 22nd or 23rd book on influence, persuasion and body language. You’ll find that gem on page 163 along with six other body language tips. This book is an excellent read by the way! I highly recommend it)

Body Language in Real Estate Tip Two: Where are your feet pointing?

Influence is about engaging and understanding the other person’s point of view. Most of us struggle with that because we are very focused on ourselves and the message we have to communicate. The most important person to focus on when you’re influencing someone is that person. Listen to them. Your entire body – right down to your feet – needs to show them that you’re engaged and really listening.

We first learned this one from Elliot Hoppe (links to a video) at a body language course we took. Where your feet are pointing is a good indicator of where you want to be. If you’re engaged in a conversation you’ll usually find your feet are naturally pointing to the person you’re speaking with. If you’re bored or annoyed or just ready to go, your feet will naturally point to the door or an exit.

You may think that it doesn’t matter because most people don’t know about this but the reality is that a lot of cues are processed subconsciously and the other person may not know precisely how they know you are (or are not!) listening to them, but they will just know you are.

Body Language in Real Estate Tip Three: Sit Still – Especially When Someone Asks You a Question

Bad Body Language for Real Estate InvestorsI had a boss that used to lean back and then cross his ankle over his knee when I asked him a question that made him uncomfortable. It happened every single time.

I didn’t know anything about body language at the time, but I knew enough to realize that I was about to get a story when he did that. It was a defensive reaction. He didn’t want to answer my question so he’d tell me a story. He had great stories but most of the time the story didn’t answer what I was asking.

The point is that I knew it was coming. I also knew that he wasn’t being open and honest. He was hiding things from me.

I would walk out of the meetings where this happened irritated. I was getting a line and I knew it. He would probably feel good that he handled the situation well and told me a motivational story in the process.

When someone asks you a question that makes you uncomfortable pay attention to what you do in reaction. In our workshops the most common reaction is what I call a human pretzel move. Most people cross their arms or legs or both! And they do it without realizing they are doing it … and it’s almost always in immediate response to a question that makes them uncomfortable.

Think about what you are telling the other person when you do this. You are sending their unconscious mind signals that you want to hide the truth, you’re uncomfortable with the question and you’re not confident.

Not being confident is a deal killer every time.

Just like the man at Starbucks who stepped into my space, every single one of these things can kill rapport in a second. Once rapport is gone it’s hard to get back. You may wonder why your tenant never complies or why you can’t raise money … so take a look in the mirror, ask a friend and start paying attention to the little things you’re DOING that are making your influence attempts difficult. You just might find that you’re saying the right things but not following them with congruent actions that DO the right things.
First Image Credit: Julie Broad
Second Image Credit: © Odua | Dreamstime.com

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