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Nonverbal Communication

By

Muhammad Muqauwim Amirul

Before starting, please watch the following Pawn Stars guy gets irate.

Body never lies. For this assignment,  a 2 minutes video of buying process featured in American reality television series, called “Pawn Stars”. The series depicts the staff’s interactions with customers, who bring in a variety of artifacts to sell or pawn the item, including during haggling over the price and discussing its historical background. The video started when a guy (Rafael) who is the customer with the limited edition ‘Perseus & Pegasus’ statue came into the shop trying to sell to the pawn shop. He believed the statue was made in 1888 by Epicault (1833-1915). However, after examined the sculpture, the staff discovered that the sculptured is not originally produced in 1888, but only for 40-50 years ago. The customer was shocked and being defensive to the fact. At the end, the customer cannot sell the statue as it was not originally produced in 1888.

There are varieties of non verbal communication elements especially facial expression and hands movement were shown through this video and will be discussed later in this report.

Hands gesture:

Nonverbal Communication

Hands gesture

The staff’s left palm on the desk and right hand were fisted portrays confidence and “This is my products and Im ready at service”. The salesman should put both hands on the table to show confidence and credibility. Research proved that customer perceived salesman more credible if they show both hands instead of hiding it during sales presentation. On the other hand, it is more proper for customer service attendant to not put both hands during standing to portrays friendliness and politeness.

The customer hands were on the table as well and the fingers were interlocked and touching the fingertips of each hand to form a steeple when disseminating information. This is confident hands which express positive traits. This indicates that she is confident during negotiation and thinking what item she is going to buy at the shop. The body slightly bends forward to show interest and comfort as her elbow support the upper body while she watching the displayed item in the shop. When we see this type of gesture, the customer or client is very confident and interested to buy something from us. This self-assured gesture may also very suitable for marketer to show high confidence and credibility during negotiating and sale presentation.

Hands (Arms-gripping):

Hands (Arms-gripping)

Hands (Arms-gripping)

In this scene, Rafael were waiting for the staff to examine and discuss about the price of the statue. His left hand is on the top of the right hands calmly. This arms-gripping always read politeness. As a customer, he tries to be polite as the price of the statue would be determined by the staff. This can be read as self-comfort gesture and calm standing position as well. According to C.S Leow (2013) in his book, this gesture always associated with a negative or restrained attitude.

This gesture is very suitable for customer service attendant as its shows welcoming and politeness in providing service to the customers. In my opinion, this gesture shows submissive behavior which willing to be taking charged by other person. It might also as one self- comfort gesture. As a marketer, this gesture need to be avoided as it convey uncertainty and low confidence level , indirectly affect the credibility of the marketer.

Finger (pointing):

Finger (pointing)

Finger (pointing)

The staff was explaining about the historical background of the statue while pointing the index finger to it. This show that he is engaging in conversation and to show everything he said is about the statue. This gesture shows that he is knowledgeable and very confident with the facts when he speaks. A salesman should use this technique to ensure the customer maintain their attention towards the item and keep engaging in the conversation. As a result, customer would be more responsive and listen carefully during the salesman negotiation or presentation.

Smile (Full blown smile):

Smile (Full blown smile)

Smile (Full blown smile)

This facial expression can be detected when a person’s eyes became crease and twinkle, lips are tightened while the teeth are showing. This is a positive signal of happiness as the person effectively communicates, “I’m nice and not a threat”.
In this scene, he is genuinely smile and laugh naturally when the customer makes jokes that he did not understand whatever he explained before. The smile is genuine and unconscious as his orbicularis oculi (skin around the eyes) crinkles up. This reaction is associated with intensification of happiness. As a salesman or product consultant, we should keep this friendly and easy to approach facial expression to entertain our customers and clients. Consequently, people around us would give a positive impression on us as the service provider. When we smile, it communicates happiness “happy to work and provide service to you” to others around us.

Head movement (shaking):

Head movement (shaking)

Head movement (shaking)

The head movement (shaking) to the left and right when he said that he is not knowing at all about the Perseus history. This movement is unconsciously and align to the meaning of his speech “I don’t know what you talking about”. This head movement show disagreeable or to communicate “no” to the other party in the conversation. It is suitable for salesman during sale presentation to effectively deliver his point and indirectly influence prospect customer to agree with his point. This technique is successfully applied in many fitness outlet as they try to influence their prospect opinion by giving this head movement to make them has the same thought with the consultant.

Eyes (looking-upward):

Eyes (looking-upward)

Eyes (looking-upward)

In this scene, the staff is tried to recall the facts and information in his memory during explaining about the sculpture history. His eyes were look upwards and slightly left which indicates that he is thinking to recall something in his memory using his left brain. On the other hand, if his eyes looking upward to the right he might be just lie about the facts as he use right brain to construct imagination. These eye movements would help seller and buyer to verify whether the other parties are telling the fact or just try to make a story.

This problem is always encountered during getting prospect profile about themselves, for example question like “how many times do you exercise in a week?.” Some prospect would take time to answer and unconsciously their eyes would look upward. If their looking upwards to the right and smile, surely he is trying to lie. This test technique is also effective during job interview to detect whether the interviewee is trying to tell or make up the facts.

Staring and lowering head:

Staring and lowering head

Staring and lowering head

In this scene, Rafael lowering his head and looking upwards with a slightly frown shows that he is being judgmental. His eyes are staring to the staff and with great curiosity to show engagement in conversation and his interest about what price he can get from selling the statue to the staff. However, direct gazing may be interpreted as sign of threatening by others. Based on this context, this action also indicates that he is paying attention, listening and engaging in the conversation.

As a marketer that meeting new client and new friends, it is quite rude to stare because this gestures may be interpreted as being hostile and threatening. Thus, avoid staring and make a good sufficient eye contact accompanied with pleasant facial expression would help to give positive sign to the other person.

Affect blend and staring:

Affect blend and staring

Affect blend and staring

In this scene, there is a mixture of expression as part of Rafael’s face show surprise blend with disgust (lowering region of face) while his eyes keep staring at the staff. Rafael shows this reaction when the staff told him the statue is not originally made in 1888.
His outer eyebrows were raised up, eyes were open big and staring, while upper body and head slightly bends forward, with the loose lips. Loosened lips indicate that a person does not have high hopes, depressed or sad for a situation. These expressions also can represent shock or disbelief after an unexpected piece of news.

This expression is usually discovered during presentation of products and when a customer saw high price for a typical product or service. If a customer shows this way of reaction, means that he is shocked and he will not buying the product unless it is worth to buy. Thus, as a marketer we need to keep customer motivated and interested towards the product. This can be solved by demonstration of product or listing the benefits that suit to their needs and wants first, rather than just telling the product’s price at the beginning of presentation.

Hand-to-chin:

Hand-to-chin

Hand-to-chin

Rubbing and holding chin showing doubt or disbelief in what the other party is saying. The index finger is moved up the outside of the cheek from the jaw line toward the temples. This is an evaluative gesture, but one that leans toward a negative outcome (critical judgement). When Rafael touching his chin and nose, he is revealing his doubt which is “I don’t believe you and how accurate is your information?” and later become unsatisfied with the staff’s statement. As a marketer, we should ask the client if there is anything unclear or he doubtful about when our client showing this reaction during our presentation. This would maximize the clarity of presentation, successful of dealing and closing sale with the customers.

Hand-to-mouth gestures:

Hand-to-mouth gestures

Hand-to-mouth gestures

People usually touch their mouth or nose when they are lying or when they are listening to someone is lying. It also indicates that the person is not comfortable in certain situation and trying to hide some information. In this scene, Rafael is not comfortable with the situation as he being told indirectly that he is trying to sell not original artifact to the pawn shop.

For instance, a client show this expression during beginning of conversation, this may show that he is in disbelief condition or not comfortable with the situation. As a solution we may ask simple questions that could warm up the conversation or change subject of conversation to something that would interest him/her. When we understand this type of body language, it is easier for us as salesperson to take proactive steps to comfort the customer. However, the best remedy to comfort people is smile. So, don’t forget to always smiling during the conversation with client or customers.

Palm up (unsatisfied):

Palm up (unsatisfied)

Palm up (unsatisfied)

This arm gestures may indicates uncertainty and curiosity. In this scene Rafael asking “why do they do that?” to indicate he is unsatisfied with the facts or service. In order to overcome the irate and unsatisfied customer, it is good for us to listen and give a comfort solution to the customer politely.

Open arm:

Open arm

Open arm

This hand movement shows that the staff is being submissive, friendly and honest with his statement. The hands is upward which indicates “its up to you to believe or not” and decision is on your hand. In evolutionary terms, the palm up display is an important gesture signifying honesty because it is a way to make evident to others that no threat or weapon is present (such as spear, sword or bow and arrow). Furthermore, the staff is very good in using masking technique to hide his real emotion of expression eventhough being disgusted by the customer.

Palm facing down:

Palm facing down

Palm facing down

This type of gesture indicates giving instruction and show dominance. Rafael was disagreeing and unsatisfied with the staff. He said “I don’t care what you telling me”, while showing this gesture.

Eyes: Gaze avoidance & squinting

Eyes: Gaze avoidance & squinting

Eyes: Gaze avoidance & squinting

When a person purposely prevents or avoids eye contact, either to show disinterest, to scorn, or to show a difference of opinion or even submission. The owner of the shop uses this gesture when he tried to calm the customer. His furrowed forehead, lowered eyebrow, gazing eyes can be interpreted as anger, concerned, concentrating, dominance, displeasure or thought. This look communicates that “I am certain of what I am saying”. He said “when we felt not comfortable with something, we’re going back-off” while nodding his head. His eyes partially closed which can be interpreted as showing disbelief or uncertainty. In this scene, the owner shop certainly said that he will not buy the artifact as he is not confident with the originality of the statue. As a marketer this look is important in conveying potential customer and to show seriousness especially in product presentation.

Nodding and Deintensification:

Nodding and Deintensification

Nodding and Deintensification

Nodding can be interpreted as showing agrees to the other party in the conversation. Rafael was nodding his head slowly to show he is agree and understand the reason why his statue being rejected. In this scene, he is using deintensification technique to control and minimize the emotion expression after being told nicely that the shop will not buying the statue.

Conclusion

Non verbal communication especially eyes, facial expression and hand movement play important role in convey message to the other people surround us. Applicable to the commercial world, mastering the non verbal communication technique would be a great advantage for marketer to increase the potential of closing sale or getting a great deal with clients as we would be able to encounter and handle expected situation after analyzing and understand their actions. Consequently, a better fit service and product can be provided as we understood them better by their non verbal communication.

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