You’ve practiced your scripts, put on your most professional outfit and even managed to secure an appointment with a potential home seller. So why is it that your promising prospect is suddenly rushing you out the door, instead of signing up for your services?
In many cases, the answer lies in nervous habits. Often times, when we’re nervous, we subconsciously telegraph our discomfort to those around us through a series of behaviors that betray our self-confidence. As a result, we aren’t able to genuinely connect with prospects, leading to missed opportunities and fewer clients.
Clearly, it’s important to nip these nervous habits in the bud. If you’re concerned that these behaviors may be keeping you from getting listings and sales, take a look at these five habits, as well as some simple – yet powerful – steps to eliminate them.
Eye contact plays a critical role in human communication, as many “tells” that indicate lying or discomfort can be seen in the eyes. Unfortunately, maintaining effortless eye contact with strangers isn’t a comfortable process, which is why nervous communicators often glance down or away from the people they’re speaking to.
To prevent these behaviors from projecting your discomfort, try this: Instead of looking into a person’s eyes, look at the top of his cheekbone (immediately below the eye). The effect will be the same as if you’re making eye contact, but without the stress associated with staring deeply into a stranger’s eyes.
When communicating with others, I tend to speak fairly quickly – though there’s a big difference between having naturally fast-paced speech patterns and the type of “fast-talking” that instantly conveys to a prospective customer that you aren’t comfortable in a given situation.
The problem with rushed speech is that we tend to lose our enunciation when we pick up the tempo. As a result, ideas aren’t conveyed clearly, often requiring prospects to request that we slow down or repeat things unnecessarily.
One technique that I’ve found to be useful in these situations is to take a deep breath immediately before speaking or responding to a question. Not only is the process itself relaxing, it’ll give you a moment to think through what you want to say and how you want to say it – before you actually begin speaking.
“Fidgety fingers” always comes up near the top of lists of nervous habits, as it’s a common behavioral quirk for people – whether or not they’re nervous in the first place!
You probably already know if you experience this nervous habit, and if so, it’s time to put a stop to it. Fidgeting with your hands and fingers gives off the impression that you’re unfocused or removed, which is the last thing you want your prospective clients to feel when you’re sitting down for an appointment.
To eliminate this habit, remove any rings or bracelets from your hands and any pens, paper clips, rubber bands or other small items from your meeting area (unless you absolutely must have a pen nearby to take notes). Then, try to “check in” with your hands periodically throughout your meeting and make a conscious effort to fold them quietly if you notice that they’re starting to get restless.
Similarly, touching your face or hair is a dead giveaway that you’re feeling uncomfortable. Often times, I find that this nervous habit is more common with women, who smooth down their hairstyles or tuck hair behind their ears as a way to subconsciously telegraph anxiety.
But regardless of your gender, it’s an important habit to get rid of if you want to be taken seriously by prospective clients. To become more aware of the habit, count the number of times you touch your face or hair during your next business appointment. Then, set a goal for yourself of reducing this number in subsequent habits by at least half, until you’ve succeeded in ridding yourself of this nervous behavior.
One final nervous habit to be aware of is tapping your feet or bouncing your legs excessively. Though this is a common nervous habit that many people experience, it’s often perceived by the people around as being a sign of impatience or irritation – two emotions you definitely don’t want to convey to prospective clients!
To minimize this behavior, plant both feet firmly on the floor at the start of your appointment and mentally check in with them occasionally throughout your presentation. Or, if you have the opportunity, consider standing up. Not only will this put more energy and excitement into your voice, it’ll prevent your anxious feet from unintentionally betraying your self-confidence.
If you do experience any of these habits, don’t be alarmed. Nervous tics don’t mean that you’re an awkward person who’s destined to stand out as anxious or uncomfortable for the rest of your life. We all have certain behaviors that betray our self-confidence from time to time. What’s important is that you take the steps described above to resolve them in order to present a more engaging, confident presence to your prospective clients.