Walking back home from my early morning jog and workout, one of my neighbors made a military joke as he passed me, his wife striding beside him:
“Perhaps I should say, by your leave!” he quipped, summoning the protocol of a junior passing by a senior officer.
By itself, this doesn’t mean much, but lots of people have been greeting me lately with a hearty, “How are you, Sir?”
Still, this isn’t all that odd considering we dwell near not one, but two military bases, so there is always a sense of decorum about the area.
But I believe people are extending these gestures of respect to me because of something most folks completely underestimate: My bearing, how I carry myself, the cast of my frame, how I move.
A handful of years ago, when I was finishing my Black Belt in Chinese Kenpo Karate, I came across a very good book, Living The Martial Way, by Forrest E. Morgan, an Air Force Major.
He described how a highly regarded, senior officer comported himself, non-verbally, as he entered a room. Even out of uniform, nearly all could see, according to Morgan, that the fellow was a leader and was in charge.
Summing up the majesty of the man, Morgan concluded something that I have intuited and later confirmed in my experience, a phenomenon that explains the deference others sometime show toward me.
Posture is a tool of command.
This especially holds true, I have found, in negotiations. If there is a certain tautness about you, and you hold your head up and spine straight, people will find it very difficult to summon the gumption to bleed you for concessions.
You’ll look like an impenetrable fortress, a bargaining bulwark. They’ll imagine all kinds of disasters will ensue if they try to weasel away at your prices and other terms.
The image that comes to mind is hitting a tank with your bare knuckles. No matter how adept you are at throwing punches, you simply won’t dent something as hard and massive as a mighty military machine.
Happily, you don’t have to be ten feet tall and weight five-hundred pounds to project the kind of stature I’m describing here.
When negotiating, massiveness, height, posture, and power are projections more than organismic traits. By actively imagining yourself to be a rock, make that a boulder, you can create the being-ness of a boulder.
While your counterparts are distracting themselves by looking inward, and are introverted, you are projecting outward, being extroverted. You are acting on them, and they are being influenced, though they don’t know exactly how it’s happening.
We know for a fact that certain people that walk down the street seem imperturbable, while others look utterly vulnerable. Some give-off signs that cry out: “Rob me!” while others whisper “Don’t even think about it!”
The right posture can avoid problems, on the street and across the bargaining table.
Check yours out, and become aware of how others hold themselves. Note the impacts. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot, and this knowledge, along with your adjustments in behavior, will help you to become a much more successful negotiator.