Now that we’ve surpassed the future Doc Brown and Marty McFly laid out for us in the 1985 film, “Back to the Future”, it’s becoming apparent that we’re a lot more stuck in the Stone Age than we thought. Whether it’s showing interest in a listing or expressing boredom during a tour, your potential applicant’s body language shows it all. With this crash course on body language, you will learn how to exude the right physical ques to make your potential applicants feel right at home.

Body Language Applications and Why Should I Learn This?

We’ve all seen it in movies. It’s the slow close-up of Superman’s face as he’s flying through the sky or the pan between two cowboys itching for a showdown, emphasizing their nonverbal body language. It’s the famous “Spielberg face”, as Fandor coins it, which has been used in famous films like “Jurassic Park” and “Indiana Jones” to express emotions like shock, dread, and awe nonverbally. And, more precisely, it’s your potential tenant’s intent.

Humans can produce over 700,000 signs, over 5,000 distinct hand gestures, over 250,000 facial expressions and over 1,000 different postures. And that’s not all; the preexisting micro expressions are always changing and evolving to signal new emotive forms of intent. While this might seem overwhelming, according to Gengo’s research, there are six universal signs that you can look out for: happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, anger, and fear. With these universal signs, you can use body language to your advantage in any type of field. Take print advertising for example, Vanessa Van Edwards, a behavioral investigator, points out in her article that body language can be used to show people where to look or emphasize certain products or action buttons. So why not use it for reeling in more applicants?

How to Walk the Walk (Nonverbally)

When it comes to body language and speaking, the Stanford Grad School of Business says it best: the audience is the superhero and as the speaker, you have to keep that hero on their journey. By making body language your superpower, you utilize your body position, body movements, and your observations of your partner’s movements and positions to help create a good impression and lead the potential applicant towards finding what they want – your property.

According to Gengo, it takes just 7 seconds to make a judgment about a person when first meeting them, so it’s important to learn how to create a confident and welcoming atmosphere through your body language. Stanford graduate Colin Bailie recommended assuming the appropriate body position for the situation. This means you shouldn’t approach a potential applicant with your arms crossed (a position that signals that you’re closed off) or with your hands on your hips (a position that can signal overconfidence to potential renters and make them feel small), but have an open and neutral position that shows your hands.

In addition to how you position yourself, you should also be aware of your body’s movements. In Stanford’s educational video, Jeong Joon Ha touched on using hand motions to drive your point home. While many of us who’ve taken a speech class know that hand motions are essential, it’s important to note that some hand motions are more effective than others. According to Allan & Barbara Pease, referenced in Jeon Joon Ha’s presentation, people comply to directions made with the presenter’s palms up 84% of the time, palms down 52% of the time, and pointing 28% of the time. Disneyland already uses this technique by requiring all of its cast members to gesture directions either with the whole hand or with two fingers.

Property Manager Body Language

Finally, observe your potential tenant’s body language. Try to mirror where there hands are positioned and even how they stand. This will not only make them more comfortable speaking with you, but make them more open to what you have to say.

For more tactics on how to read your potential tenant’s facial expressions go to Business Insider to view a quick illustrative video.

Don’t Overthink It

As body language contributes to 55% of the overall effectiveness of how we communicate, it’s extremely important that we take the time to understand how we present ourselves in our day-to-day lives. That being said, as property managers and business owners, you’ve already got a lot on your plate. According to Forbes, the trick to enhancing how you use body language is to simply not overthink it. Most of the time you already recognize when an applicant is or is not interested and that feeling is usually attributed to that person’s “vibes” or a “gut feeling”. Simply take that gut feeling one step further by adjusting your body position to that person’s. After all, while the vibes you might be feeling may seem attributed to specific response (like excitement over the amenities or fear over the rental price), it more often signals the applicant’s intent, and that can be persuaded to be positive.

Understanding your body language is good for communicating with current residents, interacting with applicants, and for your everyday personal life. Staying confident and calm can be difficult all the time, but as Amy Cuddy said in her TED Talks, by spending just two minutes in a high power pose (like the Superwoman pose) your body language will help you develop a naturally more confident mindset, which in turn will leave a lasting impact on potential renters. While we may not have hover boards and time travel yet, maybe that’s a good thing. Communication is complicated as it is.

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About the Author

Author Becky BowerBecky Bower is a communications intern here at the Resident Screening Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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