As a business person, you want to avoid this look.
Being caught by surprise by a question often results with a “deer in headlights” response. To a greater or lesser degree it happens to all business people at one time or another.
An example: A business associate was asked by a potential client, “Why should I use your service over another one that is cheaper?” He hesitated, seem flustered and tried to compare his service to others. In the process he confused the listener, looked like he was avoiding the issue and spent most of the time talking about his competition. Boom – a deer caught in headlights.
Message: Maybe you should be looking at another service provider or I am not sure my service is as good, or … .
Body Language Challenge
Most of us would agree that in face-face communications our body language is the most significant part of our communications. Some say 80%+ of the message. But, we are not necessarily accurate in interpreting someone’s body language. A problem arises when the words we speak and the thoughts we express are not consistent with what our body is saying. There is a perceived lack of integrity in our communications. When confronted with a difference between the verbal and non-verbal, people will tend to believe the non-verbal.
How to Address This Challenge
The “deer in the headlights” expression results from us being asked a question that is a surprise or a question we had hoped no one would ask. You avoid the “deer in the headlights” phenomenon through preparation. First develop a question document. In private, list all of the questions you could get about your business, some examples include:
- The effectiveness of your programs or products
- The experience of others with your product or service especially something negative
- Your pricing structure and how it was set
- List the questions others have asked you especially those you found difficult to answer
- Any question that you never want to be asked.
Now develop a point form answer for each question (no more than three points). Next, practice the answers. Finally, learn how to lead the conversation to something about which you want to talk, a.k.a, your agenda.
In summary, non-conscious body language is a reflection of one’s inner feelings and attitudes. If you ask yourself all the questions that may cause you anxiety and then develop answers that you are comfortable delivering no one can surprise you. And you will never be a “deer in the headlights”.