Body language is so critical, particularly in those first few meetings with prospects or clients. We can’t turn off body language, so we better educate ourselves to make sure our nonverbal signals are supporting our customer engagement efforts:
1. Smile – It goes without saying that smiling is the best way to initiate positive engagement, but smiling too long or too much will actually undermine your relationship-building efforts. Smiling during introductions and Positive Contact is completely natural, even instinctive. Once discussion turns to more serious matters, keeping a big smile plastered on your face may be interpreted as a lack of sincerity or even credibility. A good rule of thumb is to smile as you are coming and going, and in response to humor in between. Otherwise, your face should reflect the gravity of the topic at hand.
2. Nod/Head Tilt – Nodding and head tilting demonstrate your attention and engagement – both are desirable messages for the customer who is speaking. Here again, be careful not to use too much of a good thing. As with smiling, you will lose the benefits of these gestures if you nod or tilt your head throughout the entire discussion.
3. Chin Angle – Try to maintain a slightly lower chin angle to show respect and earnestness. A high chin angle can appear as though you are looking down at others. This is a very subtle variation and one which most people are completely unaware when it comes to their own habits. It’s probably worth observing yourself in the mirror to recognize your own best practice.
4. Body Angle – Standing toe to toe with another person can appear confrontational. Creating a slight angle between your body and your counterpart presents a much more accommodating nonverbal signal. Defuse tension or acrimony by positioning yourself next to the individual, so that you are facing in the same direction.
5. Hand Shake – The ideal handshake is one that matches the strength of the other party, and also takes a slight palm up angle.
6. Speech Speed – It is very natural to talk quickly when you are excited or nervous, which is why speaking slowly communicates greater authority and credibility. It also helps meeting participants better absorb what you are saying, thereby facilitating a more productive dialog.
If you are interested in more tips for stellar customer engagement, check out It’s Not All About Me, The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone by Robin Dreeke.