"How To Out-Negotiate And Understand Powerful Handshakes" – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“During our introduction, I felt uneasy. There was something in his handshake that made me think that he was attempting to project himself as being powerful. I wasn’t really sure what that handshake meant but I knew he was sending me a message.” Those were words spoken by a team member when recalling how he felt at the outset of a negotiation.

Handshakes convey hidden meanings. They are one aspect of body language that people should pay more attention to. They can make you feel powerful, be perceived as powerful, or make you appear weak.

Continue reading to discover the hidden meanings conveyed simply by shaking someone’s hand.

Meaning of Handshakes:

  • Hand on Top – One hand on top of the other person’s hand
    • Normally, the person whose hand is on top is signaling superiority. But, allowing one’s hand to be on the bottom can be a ploy to allow the other person to believe he’s in a superior position.

  • Hard – One that appears to be overbearing
    • A hard handshake can be a sign of attempted intimidation. It can also stem from someone that is naturally strong and unaware of the strength they convey when shaking someone’s hand.
    • One’s perception is what denotes the degree that a handshake is strong or overbearing. If you’ve had prior encounters with the other party and have shaken their hand, you have a basis for comparison in the present situation. If you don’t have that comparison, consider what a normal handshake would be like from someone of the same size, gender, and background.

  • Weak – Lacking power, dainty, gentle
    • Weak handshakes convey the exact opposite meaning of those that are hard. Again, don’t necessarily infer that someone is weak because they deliver a weak handshake. It may be the way they wish you to perceive them at the outset of your meeting.

  • Hand/Arm Jerk – While shaking the hand, a quick movement is made that pulls the hand quickly in a jerking motion in one direction and then pushes it backward in the opposite direction.
    • Sometimes, in a playful setting, friends will engage in such banter. In negotiation settings, this gesture is most likely a subtle signal that the one exhibiting it plans to keep the other negotiator off guard. Take note when receiving such gestures and compare it to what follows.

  • Firm – Not too hard, not too soft, both hands parallel to each other
    • In a negotiation, negotiators state through this gesture that they’re equal and respectful of each other.

The person holding the handshake the longest is the one controlling it – they’re stating that they’re not ready to let go. A normal handshake usually lasts for 3 to 5 upward and downward movements. Any more is excessive, which means it’s being done for a reason.

Here’s the rub. Just because someone extends a weak handshake doesn’t make them weak, nor does a strong handshake make them strong. It can all be a ploy. That means you can use this ploy as a tactic in your negotiations.

By understanding the meaning of handshakes, you understand more of what’s occurring. Thus, when someone shakes your hand, you can respond based on how you wish them to perceive you. That will alter the setting of any negotiation. That will also empower you… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

"How To Be A Better Solution Versus Issue Negotiator" – Negotiation Tip of the Week

As a negotiator, do you consider the perspective of the other person? Do you assess to what degree he’s an issue versus solution-based negotiator? You should consider those questions. Because it will determine how he and you negotiate and the points he’ll stick to. Negotiators that are issue-based negotiate differently than solution-based negotiators.

In this article, you’ll discover why there are different styles of negotiations based on the issue versus solution sought outcomes. You’ll also gain insight to identify one style versus the other – and how to deal with either.

Issue Negotiator:

An issue-based negotiator is primarily concerned with promoting a cause that he’s defending – that makes him less likely to be open to logic or reasoning. And he’s usually the front-person for a larger entity that’s backing him. Example – even though as of this writing 97% of Americans would like to see more stringent gun background checks, measures to address that are blocked in the U.S. Senate by the gun lobby. Why? Because the gun lobby spends millions of dollars in campaign contributions to ensure politicians prevent such measures from becoming laws. Thus, to negotiate effectively, an entity would need to amass a force that’s equally as strong as the gun lobby – and one that’s willing to make equal monetary contributions. That’s how you’d offset the power of the gun lobby.

Therefore, when negotiating against an issue-based negotiator, consider looking for the weakness that lies in his supporters – they’re the source of his power and the power that you must address first. The negotiation strategies you’ll use to do so will depend on the tenacity displayed by them to maintain their position – your goal is to unseat them from their position.

Solution Negotiator:

Solution-based negotiators are a different breed from their issue-based counterparts. The former enters the negotiation genuinely seeking a solution – that’s not to say that the issue-based negotiator doesn’t seek a solution – he’s more zealous about getting you to agree with his position and less yielding. The solution-based negotiator is more flexible in his give-and-take to unearth solutions.

When negotiating with a solution-based individual, expose as much of your desires as you deem appropriate – encourage him to do the same. Convey a genuine ambition to seek a mutually beneficial outcome – display an openness that allows him to sense that he’s in a safe space. You want him to recognize that you won’t take advantage of him – the more secure he feels, the more information he’ll disclose about his position. To enhance this process, if you encounter misunderstandings, consider excepting the blame for it – again, you should gear your efforts towards making him feel safe – allowing him to experience blamelessness will enhance those efforts.

There is a point of caution to interject. If you sense your opponent views your willingness to be accommodating as weakness, stiffen your position – become less tolerant and less forgiving. Throughout every negotiation, one is constantly positioning oneself. Make sure you’re constantly monitoring how you’re perceived and the adjustment the other negotiator makes as the result of that perception. In turn, observe how he’s constantly repositioning himself per how he wishes you to perceive him.


Good negotiators attempt to advantage their position before they enter a negotiation – less knowledgeable negotiators don’t seek such advantages – they become prey as the result of their haphazard negotiation ways. To gain an advantage in your future negotiations, take into consideration whether you’ll be negotiating against an issue or solution-based negotiator. Doing so will give you insight into the type of plans to develop for the negotiation. That will give you a real advantage… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

"How To Resolve Powerful Opposition By Reading Body Language" – Negotiation Tip of the Week

He observed the opposing member’s body language and noted a rise in their opposition. He thought – this intervention is not going well. I’ll display a stronger resolve through my body language when I speak. And that will enhance my words.

Even those not astute at reading body language become swayed by their gestures. Some they see, and others they miss – their subconsciousness may capture the latter. That may lead to someone thinking, ‘I had a hunch or a feeling about that. But I didn’t know what it meant.’ In reality, that was their intuition summoning their consciousness. When one notices the slight gesture of someone biting their lips, hands on hips, or an intense glare, those gestures convey a message.

You can use the following information about reading body language to resolve opposition to your position.

Identify Alliances:

Always know who’s aligned with whom before you attempt an intervention. Without that insight, you don’t know who might be your real friend or foe. That’s important because, without that knowledge, you can’t confront the real force that opposes you. Thus, there may be a stronger force with superior powers that go unaddressed. And that could leave you going in circles wondering why you’re not advancing.

To identify possible factions aligned against you, consider planting misinformation about one group in the other. And note what that information does within those units. In particular, observe what the info does per new alliances the opposition forms. You can glean additional insight by visually inspecting the coalitions when you’re in the same environment. Do that by noting who congregates with whom and any other nonverbal exchanges that occur. You’re looking for the slightest of shifts to increase your advantage. If the forces are still committed to one another as before, that might indicate the information was insufficient for its purpose. It could also imply that there’s a stronger alliance than you’d imagined. And an FYI, this tactic is served better if you have a confidant within your targets midst place the information.

While some might consider this maneuver to be underhanded, depending on the threat confronting you, it may be well warranted – even if some revile you. Just be mindful that those with the most to lose will be the ones that contest you the most. Once uncovered, they’ll be the real opponents challenging your position.

Understanding One Important Body Language Queue:

To identify alliances through body language, observe gestures passed between members of the opposition. Such gestures as one member placing a hand on the shoulder of another while talking can silently indicate that he’s seeking support from that person. You can also observe someone searching for assistance when a person speaks, and someone from his group places a hand on his shoulder. Since the prior gesture can also be a form of control (i.e., let’s not go that far), take note of when it occurs and who initiates the action. If it’s a “let’s not go that far” intent, the person displaying the gesture may be a leader behind the scenes or someone that you can use later to control the person speaking. Using a veiled leader in that capacity would allow you to use the hidden powers of an influencer.

Signs of Escalation:

Some body language gestures are like canaries in a coal mine – they foretell pending danger.

  • Face-To-Face

You can sense some body language gestures before the display becomes altered. Thus, those displays reflect the emotional state of that individual at that moment. Those signals are called micro-expressions.

There are other signs to observe, such as hand flexing, the hand becoming a fist, displaying a grimacing demeanor while moving closer to you, and increasing the rate of speech. Such indicators can be the signal of emotional elevation, which can lead to hostile escalations.

It’s important to note such signals because they can indicate a change in the mental temperature. And that could put you in a worse position – which can lead you and them to become unreceptive to logical thinking.

  • On Phone

When speaking on the phone, listen for deep sighing, the deliberation of words, and the pace of speech of the person with whom you’re talking. As someone’s ire becomes heightened, you’ll hear the rise of it through those nonverbal queues. Note if you’re displaying such gestures too. Because regardless of who commits those actions, it’s an opportunity for you to shift the conversation in a direction that suits your purpose.


You can note the effectiveness of your efforts by the shifting positions your opponents adopt. Note the shift verbally and physically when in person. That’ll indicate their attempts to seek an opening they can exploit. Which means they’re on the defense.

Thus, when intervening in situations, depending on the value of the outcome, do so with vigor – don’t dither. Dithering can waste your time and hamper your position. And that’s something you can’t afford. Use the body language signs mentioned before, during, and after an intervention. They’ll put you in a more powerful position… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at [email protected]