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How to Read Body Language to Build Rapport and Win More Listings

July 31 2017

When you're in the midst of a listing presentation, how can you tell if you're winning over your potential clients—or slowly losing their interest?

It all comes down to reading their body language, says Chris HelderChris Helder, an international speaker, author, and expert on the topic. "Only 7 percent of our communication is words," says Helder. Thirty-eight percent is the tone in which words are said. Most people are skilled at picking up on the meaning of tones, but far fewer know how to successfully read body language—which makes up 55 percent of interpersonal communication!

Helder will be sharing his knowledge of body language at the upcoming realtor.com® Results Summit in September, and today, we're offering a sneak preview of what he'll be talking about.

Use these body language cues to gauge the engagement levels of whomever you're speaking to, and keep them engaged even when their attention wanders.

It's All About Listening Behavior

hmmAccording to Helder, the best way to know if your clients or leads are connecting with what you're saying is to look at their "listening behavior," or how they posture their body when you're speaking to them.

If the listener is displaying the following body language, that means they're engaged and you're on the right track:

  • Chin stroke
  • Fingers resting on the side of their face
  • Crossed legs with hands in their lap, or resting on their legs or knee
  • Feet pointed towards you

However, if they shift from the postures above to the following postures, that's a red flag:

  • Cradling their chin in their palm - This indicates that their attention has waned and they're not listening to you.
  • Grabbing their shin - When your target is sitting with crossed legs and they suddenly shift to grab their shins, look out. This is a defensive, blocking posture and they probably disagree with whatever you've just said. "You can't sell to this posture," says Helder, "so don't even try."
  • Leg cross with thigh facing you - This is another blocking posture. When the listener shifts from their crossed leg facing you to crossed legs with their thigh facing you, they probably didn't like what you just said.
  • Arms crossed with shoulders shifted back - When the listener goes from an open posture with their arms to crossing their arms, look out. They're walling themselves off from what you're saying. This, coupled with their torso shifting back, means that they're mentally retreating from your message.
  • Feet pointed away from you - Where a person's feet point indicates where they want to spend their energy and attention. When someone's feet are pointed toward you, that's a good sign, but if one foot shifts to point away from you, they're looking to leave the conversation.
  • If you notice any of the five behaviors above, don't panic. Instead, re-engage with your listener by asking them a question. "Tell me, what are your thoughts about that?" is typically enough to do the trick. Watch as their body language instantly changes as they begin speaking.

Helder notes that starting posture in a conversation isn't as important as the shifts in body language during a conversation. For example, you start a conversation with someone with crossed arms, they may simply be comfortable and a little protective. You can work on making them more comfortable as you speak. If, however, they shift into the crossed-arm position from a more open posture, that's classic "blocking" behavior—and your cue to ask a question to re-engage them.

Body Language for the Win

Some of reading body language is common sense, but a lot if it is just knowing what to look for so that you have a greater ability to read what people are feeling and shift the conversation as needed. By doing this, you're able to connect better with your clients and prospects--and strong connections mean winning more listings and more referrals from satisfied clients.

Want to learn more?

This is just a fraction of what Chris Helder will be presenting at the realtor.com® Results Summit. Register for the conference today to lock in low pricing and discover the body language tips and more that can take your business to the next level!