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  • Writer's pictureKarla Beltchenko


One of the most critical aspects to remember during salary negotiation is to know your worth. However, it's equally essential to SHOW your worth through your nonverbal behavior and body language. We primality communicate through our body and nonverbal aspects of speech, meaning people observe what we do and how we say things more than what we say! Making small shifts in your body posture and implementing these Five Nonverbal Tips can put you in the driver's seat for your next salary negotiation.


We can't emphasize enough how vital a "dress-rehearsal" is in negotiation. You did all your prep work before the meeting, researched industry salary trends, built your case, prepared for an offer and counter-offer, you even bought a new outfit, but the one thing you didn't do is practice! You can never be over-prepared for salary negotiation. Ask a trusted colleague, friend, or family member to do a mock negotiation (In-person or virtually). Discussing money can be emotional and dig up feelings of insecurity, inequality, and sometimes anger. Doing a mock allows you to get the words out in a safe environment, clarify your points, and prepare for potential questions. Record the practice session and look back at it for any nonverbal habits that align with your verbal message. Recording the mock is the easy part; looking back over it is the tricky part. Try to watch it nonjudgmentally, write down a few things you did well, and some improvement points. Look out for contradictory facial expressions, distracting gestures, closed postures, and speech habits.


Voice dynamics accounts for about 38% of the way we communicate; this means that people listen to the WAY we say things more than WHAT we say. When we get nervous in a big meeting or negotiation, our heart rate beings to rise, sometimes causing the color of our face to turn bright red; this can often lead to a soft and shaky voice— and our voice can crack under pressure. We can't promise that your nerves won't get the best of you, but we can help you prepare for tackling the nerves before they arise—warm-up your voice before you go into the meeting. Nothing fancy really, put on your favorite song and belt it out! Sing, rap, talk, chant, do what you have to do to warm up all the tones of your voice. (If you're at a loss, any Beyoncé song will do) Once your voice is warm, find your most confident and clear tone, tempo, and volume, and practice precisely the WAY you want to say something. (try to do this morning of your meeting if possible) When it comes time for your meeting, your voice will be warm and ready to go regardless of how nervous you might feel on the inside.


When we sit tall (Or stand), we outwardly display confidence, leadership presence, and authority. However, the most crucial factor regarding tall seated posture is the feeling of confidence it brings to you on the inside. The way YOU feel about yourself going into the negotiation can be a significant factor in the outcome. A study conducted at Ohio State University and published in The European Journal of Social Psychology supports the theory that our posture affects how others see us and how we see ourselves. "Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people," Petty said. "But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you're in." Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. When you sit down at the negotiation table ( at your home office or in-person), be mindful of your seated posture, try to maintain a tall elongated spine (Ears over shoulders & shoulders over hips), not leaning back into your chair or slumped over your desk. Check out our SIX Steps To Better Posture for a complete guide to improving your postural alignment.


Just before you walk into your negotiation, you start to feel your heart rate elevate, palms begin to sweat, face turns red, and you feel a shortness of breath. These are physical indicators that your stress response is kicking in. Your breath is part of your autonomic nervous system (ANS); there are two components of ANS Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) and Parasympathetic (Rest and Digest). While we don't have much control over our ANS, we can regulate it through diaphragmatic breath. Follow TNB step-by-step guide to Diphmatic Breath here. Taking deep belly breaths before and during your negotiation can lower your heart rate, regulate blood pressure, and help you become less anxious. These factors will help decrease how much of the stress hormone cortisol is released into your body. This breath will help you stay in control of your negotiation and deliver your message in a calm, cool, and collected manner.


Finishing a sentence with phrases such as "I think," "does that make sense," "What do you think?" falls under the category of apologetic language. While using this language is beneficial and inclusive in some contexts, salary negotiation is NOT one. Adding apologetic phrases to the end of a sentence displays a lack of confidence. By doing so, you are dismantling your argument and authority and leaving the field open for the other person to disagree and maneuver around what you said. Sometimes these phrases have become part of a language habit that developed over time; other times, they come out when we are feeling anxious, worried, or not confident.

Many people pair apologetic words with a physical movement or even replace verbal follow-ups with a nonverbal action. Apologetic body language, while more subtle, can send mixed messages in negotiations. Movements such as looking at the floor, shrugging shoulders, tilting one ear to your shoulder, and fidgety hand gestures convey a lack of confidence. We primarily communicate through the body; therefore, non-confident body language can overshadow the words you are saying and become the lasting memory from the negotiation. Instead of nonverbal follow-ups, practice stillness, sitting tall with your shoulders relaxed. Avoid looking at the ground or shifting your eyes and hold eye contact for at least 3-5 seconds (blinking is allowed). Lastly, omit any follow-up statements that are irrelevant to your negotiation.

The Narrative Body helps people connect and communicate better thought a deeper understanding of body language and nonverbal communication. We specializes in helping people prepare for interviews, negotiatios, presentations, meetings and on camera work.

For more info, session availabilty, and rates contact us

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