Body Language - Stop Chasing Away Customers

Not paying attention to micro expressions chases customers away. A striking statement by Patryk and Kasia in their book, body language. Kevin asks them how it works.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Not paying attention to micro expressions chases customers away. A striking statement by Patryk and Kasia in their book, body language. I will ask them how it works.


Hi Kasia hi Patryk, welcome to our studio. We're going to talk about body language and micro expressions. In one of your books, I read a sentence that if you don't pay attention to body language in general that you can scare customers away. 


Actually, that's true, because sometimes when we don't pay attention to our body language it could be that we are rude but we are not aware of it. For example there are some gestures, like pointing fingers or some very... crossed arms, very closed body language, that are not conducive to having more customers. Or, another example which we see regularly, CEOs sometimes, subconsciously they use their middle finger to touch their face, to show things on a slider, or on a paper. You don't pay attention to it, you don't focus on it, but we see regularly that it happens. Now I mention it, it seems absurd but it does happen.


But does that actually scare customers away?


They notice it subconsciously in their lymbic system. Our decision process works this way, that our emotional brain, our reptile brain, decides, and then we're going to rationalise it with the slowest part of our brain that's on top. So, the customers make their decision already when they see you, when they feel you, and then they're going to argue their way out of it. Actually, the first decision we meet when we enter the room, you have this first intuitive hint about whether you like the person, or you don't like them, you don't know why it happens, but this is the first reaction. And, we have it from animals, because we are in the same family. For example, if you work to do an experiment and you go to your neighbour and try to talk with a dog that is not so nice and show him a fake smile, so then the dog will bite you. But, if you show the dog a true smile, the reaction will be different because the dog will be able to read your body language and will be more open. And, what also has a big impact on the amount of clients you get is how good you are at focusing and interpreting and understanding your clients' body language, because that's where their needs are. If you know what your clients needs, you can change your arguments. And, you can know that by observing their body language. If I say to you, Kevin, that it's important to know how to network with people, to know if your event is going to take place in the right way, if it's important for you to maybe have a good price, I named three examples, three advantages, but based on your facial expressions as a client, I can see which one of those three is the most important for you and that's the one I'm going to focus on on the rest of my argument. 


Okay. Something else I've read in your book was that only in 80% of situations, that body language is accurate and reliable. How do you handle that, because in 20% of cases you're totally wrong?


Actually, it's not about being wrong, but it's more for readers. If they read in a book that, for example, somebody has crossed arms, it's a signal that the person is closed, is dangerous because then people have narrow interpretations. And here, what he wants is the context. In some contexts you have more closed body language or more open body language. In some contexts, for example if you were to be pointing your finger, it would be good, if it's kind of a joke, or it has a reason. For example a very famous touching the nose sign, it can be an indication of lying. But maybe it's also a signal of being nervous. So, it also depends on the context. So, an isolated movement is only valid 80% of the time. But, if you have combinations, if you have the same or similar movements many times, then it's 3x, 5x, 80%. That's also the way we predicted the outcome of a big contest in Austria lately. There are 2500 people in the room and there were eight presentations which were pitching the juries win the number one prize about their business concept. And we were able to observe the juries and tell before the juries announced the results, who they voted for based on their facial expressions.


Based on those micro expressions... 


Yes, so, people show micro expressions because they react emotionally in every situation. So, for example, if we imagine that we are walking in the forest and you see something that looks like a snake, what are you going to do? You are probably going to jump away. And this is your first emotional reaction. So, we don't think and we are not going to stay there and think 'Oh is it a snake, or is it a stick?' No. You are going to jump away. And, the same happens in our business situations that first we react with emotions, and then we are able to process the information and give a very diplomatic response. 


But is it possible the other way round, to hide such an expression? For example, you're in a business negotiation and say 'Okay, I really want to buy that, but I don't want the other one to know that because otherwise the price will go up 'Is that possible?'


Actually, the first emotional reaction will be difficult to hide. So, again coming back to a snake in the jungle, you're first going to show the reaction, but the reaction is going to be very short, maybe less than half a second, so we need to have an expert eye to be able to see this reaction. 




And, after this half a second, probably you're going to show more of a poker face because it's not good to show people that you are afraid.


Indeed, indeed. 


But with a trained eye, we've proven it, you can predict the outcome of contests, any kind of contest, name it. Fashion, singing, business contest, we've done it live on TV, on Fox TV, we predicted the outcome of the US presidential election before Obama became president. We knew that he would win because of a lot of scientific studies we've done based on videos of voters that were watching Obama and Romney, and what we discovered is that even 16% of republicans showed negative emotions when seeing Romney. So, that was one of the reasons that we knew that Obama would win. 


Now we are talking about other countries and so on, is body language also something that is cultural, are there cultural differences in body language? 


Yes, there are cultural differences, especially with hand gestures, that there are different hand gestures for different things. For example this sign can be a positive thing for 'okay,' or perhaps this means that 'your wife is cheating on you,' depending on the culture. But, there are some signs that are more universal. There are some gestures that show that you're open, and that you are closed, that you are angry, and that you are afraid. And this is something that we have from animals and that we are still using up in a social context. And this is how we can also distinguish that on a subconscious level. For example, I would feel the level of nervousness of my clients, if there was something wrong with the offer or with the budget, so this is something that I can sensate subconsciously. And then, if I add to this the expertise in body language and micro expressions, I would be even able to see what would be the best price for my client. But, what is not culturally dependent is micro expressions. These are facial expressions that are half a second or shorter. And, I just saw surprise on your face, that was a micro expression of surprise, your eyebrows going up in a relaxed way. And, there are seven emotions that we teach divided over 26 basic variations, that are the most common. And, if you know those you can see how somebody feels without them speaking. And they're exactly the same in every single culture. So, when you travel to Japan, to South Africa, or to France, you will see to see micro expression of anger in the person's face. But, let's give two that are useful for the public here right now. How they can see these facial expressions on their client's face. One that is really important is contempt. It's a feeling of superiority. You can see when your client raises one of the lip corners, like that. I'm exaggerating right now. But just half a second or so, very, very briefly a slight movement of one of the corners higher than the other, it's asymmetrical. And this is a very useful micro expression because, for example, if you want to buy a second hand car, and your salesperson says 'That's the best price I can offer,' and you see contempt, it will have a totally different meaning than a smile, and it's not good for you, because the person has something to hide and there's something wrong with the price, so you must check the car again. The second useful micro expression you should look for is the one of disgust, when, imagine, Kevin, you go to your fridge, and you open the door, and you see there's a very old, smelly cheese. That's what you've done right now. You see, a lot of wrinkles around the nose, and the upper lip goes upward, like this. If you receive this very short facial expression of half a second or shorter, we've been exaggerating... 


Yeah, of course.


Now, on your client's face, you know that they don't like something, for example I give you an offer, I ask your client what do you think about the price? And if they say 'Yeah, it's good.' But, you saw the facial expression of this disgust, actually they don't like it, but they don't want to admit it. 


If you're looking at our industry,the events industry, what's very important is speakers on stage, body language for them is everything. And in the book, I've read Obama, when he speaks, he keeps his head a little bit to the side. Why is that? 


Well, especially when he listens he does that. Slightly like this, he shows his main artery here, and that's a feeling of vulnerability. If you're my opponent, McCain or whoever, or Romney, and I slightly do my head like this, you will have the impression, or the feeling that... It's difficult to be aggressive if somebody's tilting their head because it's so nice, it's so cute also, somehow. And this way, you can help to change the situation. So, instead of having a conflict, aggressive debate, you have a nice conversation and maybe you can even convince the person. 


Maybe the most famous example is the ball of Steve Jobs. What is that about?


Well, he's holding in his hand an imaginary basketball. And, this is a fairly good movement to do during presentations when you're speaking because people have a feeling that you're convincing, that you're self-confident, you know what you're speaking about and you see the best speakers, just like Steve Jobs, using this regularly.


Isn't it, when you start doing it as a trick, like I go and stand on stage and do something just like this, then it doesn't work.


Actually, the change has to come from inside. So, what we normally do when we coach politicians or celebrities, we first record them on the camera and we show them step-by-step what reactions were reflected by their body language and then we analyse what they feel and their emotion, and we work on their mindset and then when they are able to change their mindset, they also show a different set of gestures. You probably also read in the book that we see and teach body language as a stethoscope. If you go to the doctor, he uses a stethoscope to measure you. Body language is a measuring instrument. Very reliable. Thanks to the stethoscope you know what antidote or what pill you have to use. But to heal yourself from certain body language you need to go inside, into your emotions. But first you start with identifying and measuring the body language.


If people want to know more where can they buy your book?


Well for or our company, presently with 45 representatives in 15 countries, we're the world's number one body language training for business, is on 


Perfect, thank you very much for coming over to our studio. And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time.