Beware your Leakage

Cold yet bright, London can be a great city to do business in. But eventually we all like to get home. Except I’d missed my train by a whisker. Now trains run from Paddington Station to Cheltenham every two hours so I had a long wait.

So I settled down to a long strong coffee at Starbucks and began to watch people. I love watching people, recognizing their body language, guessing what they’re thinking, don’t you just love that pastime.

In walked this young chap and he began to queue looking at the various coffees and goodies he could buy when he caught sight of the extremely good looking girl sitting in the corner sipping her latte.

What I saw was amazing – not the girl but the boy’s body language which reacted dramatically as a summer storm. His eyes widened, a big smile appeared and his stomach shrank as be pulled his stomach in and his chest out. His body language showed leakage.

I call it leakage when someone suddenly changes their body language for a reason – it really is quite spectacular when it happens and can be very useful in selling and coaching.

It’s useful to know about leakage for yourself and for your clients. Observing your client’s leakage is vital if you want to look for non verbal buying signals, which I always believe are the best ones. The body never lies but people have been known to tell them instead.

Use “test” closing to check for body language leakage. “How does that sound? or “What do you think so far?”. Watch them carefully for those sudden changes. Focus on the face as that’s where we can’t hide our feelings. Calibrate what normal looks like for them and compare with the leaked facial expressions and you can tell instantly whether they’re happy or not, or want to buy from you or not.

Be aware of your own leakage as well. When you’re presenting to clients and you’re posed a tricky question, don’t give away your position by leaking your body language. Ask someone what happens to you when you are put under some pressure and learn to mask this the next time it happens. I’ve often seen this with people who are presenting in public and get a difficult moment, such as a question or their remote breaks down or they forget what to say next.

Leakage observation can also help you if you want to see how someone reacts to you. Now this chap in Starbucks would have been better off if he kept his eye on the pretty girl as her body language leaked as well. She couldn’t keep her eyes off him and her leakage was striking. If only he’d read my article and glanced at her – they might have had a great future together. But instead he left with his skinny latte in a rather rushed manner. The innocence of youth or is it body language naivety.