Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Body Language in Business Context Congruence and Cluster

Take a look at this Reuters  photograph from the London Metro Sports page today June 25th.
Reading the body language what emotions is he portraying .

 Is he

a.       happy ?
b.      sad?
c.       frustrated?
d.      disappointed?
e.      upset?
f.     devastated ?

Certainly it is emotion.

Until I read the caption I had thought this man was very  distraught.  Context in body language interpretation is important.
 In fact the athlete concerned is the 24 year old American  Ashton Eaton who smashed the 11 year old world decathlon record of Roman Sebrle by 13 points (9,039) .  He achieved this in gruelling weather conditions in Eugene, Oregon USA.
His 9,039 points score left him some 656 points clear of the second-placed Trey Hardee the defending world champion. ( Daley Thompson CBE 1984 World record  of 8847 held until 1992 still the UK record after 20 years!)
After the 1500 metres finale Mr. Eaton said” It is a representation of all the work I have put in. I felt in the moment. I knew  there was maybe not another opportunity to make this count. After 600metres I Knew there was no way I wasn’t going to get the record”

To interpret body language the gestures alone are not enough. To get an accurate appraisal you need the three Cs. Context - Congruence - Clusters

With the rest of this post I have inserted some other sporting pictures for you to practise you body language interpretation skills.

What has this to do with selling ?

Context – is the body language in the right context. 
If someone is rocking back and forth arms folded on the edge of their seat and it’s the middle of winter outside at a bus stop and they are under dressed, then they are probably cold.  If they are in a warm room then the body language is out of context and there is a problem to be investigated.
Toothache ? Screwing his head back on? Stretching his neck
England and Chelsea Star John Terry
Photo of picture clipping from metro newspaper source of photo : PA

Congruence – if someone says “I really like your idea.”  But their tone of voice is aggressive, bored or sarcastic and their arms are folded and they are frowning then what they are saying is not congruent (aligned) with their tone of voice and body language.  So you must assume there is a problem that needs to be investigated.

Victorious? I want to punch you?
Spanish soccer star Alonso
Photo of Newspaper clipping metro source of original photograph AFP
Clusters – if someone has folded arms and that is all then they may just be comfortable so nothing needs to be read into it.
  If their arms are folded, they are frowning and leaning away from you then there is a cluster of behaviours all suggesting a problem and again you need to investigate.

Buyers convey their true feelings, mainly through the following body positions body angle facial expression, hands arms and legs. These positions make up a Body Cluster.
It is the study of a body cluster , rather than the individual "cluster element" of body position, that give  the observant salesperson  useful clues of the buyer's true feelings.

Basic Body Language ready reckoner

Handshakes: The new Buyers' Views of salespeople Survey 2012 reveals that 91.9% of Buyers consider it always necessary to shake hands. For more information on the TACK Buyers' views of Salespeople 2012 will be published shortly, contact

Acceptance signals: indicate that the client is interested in what you have to say and you may proceed

Caution Signals: are a sign of neutral or sceptical feelings to what you are presenting. You need to react to these signals as they represent a breakdown in  communication and show little buyer interest in your offer.

  • Should you observe these caution signals; the following  actions will help:
  • Alter the course of your planned presentation
  • Encourage the buyer to express their attitudes and beliefs through the Tell me, Explain to me , Describe for me conversational questioning technique.
  • Listen carefully with patience and interest to what the buyer is saying and reply directly
  • Express positive acceptance signals yourself.

Disagreement signals: indicate that your buyer feels strongly negative about your message and you will need to adjust to the situation straightaway.You can use some of the courses of action suggested for caution signals above, but also by:

  • Stopping your planned action
  • Reducing or removing any pressure on the buyer to buy or participate in the conversation using a more diplomatic selling style.
  • telegraphing your awareness of the negative vibes shows a willingness to help not just tell-sell


You should be alert, not only to what a buyers says. but also to their body language. Don't jump t conclusions on an isolated gesture. wait until the gestures from a cluster before your react. You  need to interpret non-verbal signals and react to them correctly, both verbally and in their own body language to increase your effectiveness.

Well I guess there will be all manner of sports photos over this summer of Sports Euro 2012, Wimbledon, London 2012 Olympics etc. to practise your body language interpretation skills.
 memwhile what's Andy Murray thinking ?

Good Luck Mr Murray.

Related  Posts on Body Language

Handshakes, Fist bumps and High Fives

Standing Tall for the successful

4 Point master class in mannerisms

6 points to consider in body language for Selling

Book review of Body Language in Business

Body Talking

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if you know about the mechanics of flirt body language it would be so interesting!