10 Ways to Improve Your Ability to 'Read' a Business Negotiation Situation

Next time you find yourself in the midst of a negotiation situation, tap into the smallest of cues, from body language to voice inflections. You'll be surprised with the results these yield.

A. Track Microexpressions

2016-09-06-1473190959-6361001-VanessaVanEdwards.jpgThere are seven universal microexpressions: disgust, contempt, happiness, anger, fear, sadness and surprise. It's incredibly helpful to be able to read facial expressions during negotiations, interviews and pitches. It helps you see and understand the emotions behind the words. -Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

A. Listen to repetition.

2016-09-06-1473191439-7130699-AnthonySaladino.jpgSure, listening is important because you want to get as much information about someone from what they are saying. The key to "reading" people is to recognize what they have said more than once. People usually tend to repeat things that they put high on their priority list. Any repetition of goals, ideas, or expectations means it is important to them and by knowing that, you can get a better read. - Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

A. Understand Their Motivations

2016-09-06-1473191482-5740640-RogerLee.pngPeople are willing to be straightforward about this if you ask -- and it's often personal. Ask in a friendly way, "Why is this important to you?" or "Why did you start/join this project?" Worst case, they'll give you a simple answer that isn't very illuminating. Best case, they'll feel understood and you'll be on the same page about how to come up with a mutually beneficial solution. - Roger Lee, Captain401

A. Monitor Sequential Gestures

A single gesture isn't enough to read a person, but if you watch how people perform several sequential gestures, you can start to read and understand their behaviors. For example, if you notice someone scratching their head every time you ask a question they don't know the answer to, you can use that information for your benefit. Being super vigilant is key. - Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance

A. Discuss Triggers

2016-09-06-1473191539-4307477-CoreyBlake.pngWhen you can tell someone is challenged by a situation, ask them candidly to share what was triggered for them (what hit them in the gut or sent them into a panic). Then, listen to what they reveal. Don't judge their response, and reflect what you're hearing to confirm you've understood them correctly. - Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

A. Ask Three Times

2016-09-06-1473191569-2000584-ChristopherKelly.jpgAsk open-ended questions, and listen deeply. The real answer never comes out of the first answer that is offered. I try to burrow three questions deep to get from the answer that they know I want to hear to the truth. - Christopher Kelly, Convene

A. Practice

2016-09-06-1473191598-2291544-BlairThomas.pngAlthough it may sound strange, reading people well is a learned talent that can only improve through effective practice. Learn to start reading everyone you come across, and confirm your assumptions to validate wins and losses, so you can see where you made mistakes while trying to read that individual. Use this to improve the ability to read your business contacts. - Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

A. Ask Tangential Questions

2016-09-06-1473191625-7254841-VikPatel.pngI often find that people are well-practiced within a narrow range of conversational topics, often those directly related to their work. If I want to gauge their character, I'll ask questions that take them a little bit out of their comfort zone. The result is usually a more revealing and natural response that helps me understand who I am dealing with. - Vik Patel, Future Hosting

A. Silence All Distractions

It's hard to understand someone when you are distracted, like if you're too busy thinking about what you should say because you don't want to forget a great idea. Maybe you're worried about looking good or avoiding awkward silence. Silence your inner voice and stay focused on this conversation instead. - Alan Carniol, Interview Success Formula

A. Watch For Them to Match Your Movements

If someone is really into what have you say, you can sometimes tell by making small movements and watching for them to unconsciously mimic you. This can be as subtle as leaning to one side or tilting your head. If they follow your movements shortly after, it can mean they're seriously engaged and not just humoring you. - Adam Steele, The Magistrate

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.