As real estate agents, we take classes on how to sell, what to say, where to advertise, how to use social media, staging, writing contracts and so many other topics. However, there is one very important aspect to relationship building that too often goes unaddressed: our body language.
Our face, eyes, handshake, voice, stance, hand gestures and movements — right down to the details of how we hold our arms and hands — all say something to the people we are communicating with.
This nonverbal communication may be relatively subtle, but it can have a huge impact on the ways you communicate your willingness to listen, your confidence or even your interest in what the other party is saying.
So just what is your body language saying to others, and how can you be sure you’re communicating in a way that is productive? Here are a few tips on how to come correct with your body language.
Do you have a smile on your face when you approach someone, or is there a scowl left over from your last phone conversation?
Having a smile on your face, whatever you may be feeling on the inside, tells clients and colleagues that you are happy to be there and in the moment with them, not preoccupied with why the mortgage lender on another transaction is not responding to your calls.
Are you making eye-to-eye contact with your clients when they are speaking, or are your eyes on your text messages?
Nothing conveys disinterest or that your counterpart isn’t important to you like having your eyes on your cellphone — or anywhere but on them — while with clients or colleagues.
A strong, firm handshake is still one of the earliest ways we set first impressions.
A perfect medium strength — certainly not bone-crushing, but not flimsy and floppy — tells your counterpart that you are confident, competent and ready to do everything you can to help him or her.
The sound level and speed of your voice are both important and can be changed depending on the situation.
A low, calm voice is an incredibly useful tool in keeping clients calm while delivering bad news or addressing obstacles to overcome.
When your client is excited or otherwise in a positive frame of mind, you want to share in their excitement by speaking more quickly and with an equally happy tone.
Nothing closes you off and shuts down a conversation like standing with your hands on your hips or turning away from your clients. This communicates loud and clear that you aren’t really invested in what they are saying or feeling.
A relaxed stance however, and facing your client with good but not overly stiff posture conveys warmth and engagement, and it makes clients and colleagues feel like you are engaged in the conversation.
Unsurprisingly, fists or otherwise closed-off hand gestures show that you are tense, aggravated and unable (or unwilling) to listen to your client.
Keeping your hands open and loose shows that you are open-minded, relaxed and ready to hear what your client has to say.
Nervous fidgeting does not inspire confidence. It can take a great deal of practice, but keeping your movements slow and steady — even, or especially, during a challenging moment — conveys that you are confident and capable, and you won’t get rattled if things don’t always go smoothly.
Success in our business comes from cultivating a range of skills and instincts, and body language can sometimes be a particular challenge. The best ways to engage don’t always come naturally to us, and so like all things, they take time and a great deal of practice.
But by starting from a place of awareness — understanding and anticipating how what you’re feeling or thinking may be expressed by your physical body — you can grow a sense of professionalism that has a tremendous impact, just as you do in every other area of your work.
Debra Haskell is a Real Estate Broker in Central Florida. She operates Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Olive Branch.