Oehler’s world of procurement: Towards the end of negotiations In response to the closed question, “Do you wish to collaborate with us on these conditions?” the person I am negotiating with says loud and clearly, “Yes, I do.” But I can’t help feeling that although he says yes, he means no. A feeling? No. Pure fact-checking. Something's not right. The basis for this is a reading of face and body Within a matter of milliseconds I compare what was actually said verbally with paraverbal and non-verbal communication in order to check and be sure that they are consistent or whether there is any divergence I’m an expert in this. But not just me – every one of us is. We all perform this check on the truth in every conversation we have – in many cases subconsciously and untrained.
A study conducted by TU Dresden shows that of 100% communication, only 7% is verbal (written, oral). The rest – 93% – is split between 55% non-verbal (body language, facial expression, gesture) and 38% paraverbal (tone of voice, rate of speech, skin colouration etc.). We register this non-verbal and paraverbal “information” to a particularly large extent through our eyes. Our eyes can record information a hundred times faster – and therefore more information in the same unit of time (10,000,000 bit/sec.) – than for example our ears (100,000 bit/sec.). “You may lie through your mouth, but the facial expression that you use to speak tells the truth.”
What is meant is the fact that facial expression, gesture as well voice, handshake and skin characteristics are very good indicators as to whether what is actually said matches the ‘body's language’. What we carelessly dismiss as feeling is thus not based on an emotion but instead on a clear and structured process of analysis and comparison. For this reason, a face-to-face conversation is indispensable when important decisions are involved – and also to expose ‘windbags’.