Idaho Real Estate >> ID Real Estate Specialist


What Is Your Client Trying To Tell You?

Body language - Is it as important as we once thought or has more been made of it than is necessary?

I for one had an experience a few years ago.  A man I had known most of my life was interviewing me because he wanted to list his home.  He and his wife were going through a divorce.  I met the both of them at the home they were selling.  After the meeting my friend "Thanked me for giving his wife good eye contact".  Wow!  I am very much a people person and always give good eye contact but didn't think I was doing anything special. I always respect everyone.

My friend went on to say that after the meeting his wife commented on the equal attention I gave her.  She told my friend she liked my style.  I listed their home and sold it.

I recently read an article in the Realtor Magazine that commented on body language and some of the things stated were interesting.  The following is an excerpt:


Look for subtle signs
Understanding body language isn't rocket science, Hargrave says. Most people recognize the worry of a furrowed brow, the indifference of a slouch, the confidence of direct eye contact, the bored drone of fingers drumming a table's edge, the sincerity of placing your right hand over your heart, the quizzical interest of a tilted head, and the openness of a broad smile.

But as any good poker player knows, some signs are less obvious.

  • The seller who runs an index finger behind or beside her left ear when weighing an answer may be telling you she's doubtful.
  • The clench-fisted buyer might be nervous.
  • The client who walks into the office and unbuttons and removes his coat may sense an agreement is near.
  • The man fiddling with his pocket change may have finances on his mind.
  • The buyer who repeatedly touches her necklace or makes other unnecessary gestures could be uncomfortable.
  • The sales associate who draws his fingertips together at chest level, in a steeple gesture, and props his feet on the desk is likely super confident.
  • The home buyer who brings her hand to her face, puts her chin in her palm, extends her index finger along her cheek, and lets the remaining fingers rest below her mouth may be seriously evaluating your proposal.

I was once told that some of the best sales people in the world are great at recognizing body signs customers make and reacting in a positive manner.  After thinking about this I believe it to be true.

I don't care how educated a Realtor is and how well they know the real estate market.  If we cannot read body language and react in a positive manner, we could loose a client.  Knowing when to talk and when to be silent, kowing when to give an opinion and when to just listen.

Have a story you want to share?


Marketed By: George Tallabas - Boise Idaho Real Estate Agent - Associate Broker 
with RE/MAX Advantage, Canyon Counties #1 Brokerage in sales and listings
specializing in Boise Idaho Real Estate and Southwest Idaho Real Estate.




Native Idahoan and Boise Idaho Real Estate specialist serving Boise, Meridian Eagle, Nampa, Caldwell and the surrounding Treasure valley area of southwest Idaho. Specializing in residential, investment, land and commercial real estate. Search thousands of MLS listings at Boise Homes for sale and learn all about Idaho by visiting Search Idaho Homes

Comment balloon 43 commentsGeorge Tallabas • March 07 2007 12:23PM


Understanding body language is very important in any sales or relationship.  Nice post.
Posted by Laurie Manny (Long Beach CA Real Estate) over 12 years ago


I agree 100%!  If you are unable to "read" people, it can be disastrous!   Also understanding the psychology of sales is important as well.  I took a class several years ago to understand body language and personality types! Very interesting!  People know when you're trying to "sell them".  They don't want to be SOLD to.  You need to make them want to BUY from YOU.

Posted by Kelly Smallwood over 12 years ago
We are absolutely in a PEOPLE business, we just happen to be dealing with real estate.
Posted by Vicky Poe, Realtor/ Auctioneer (Good Ole Rocky Top) over 12 years ago

Very original topic!  Good one, George!  I think people say much more with their bodies than with the words, if only we're paying attention. 

Posted by Sarah Cooper (Real Estate Shows) over 12 years ago

You are right that knowing body language can be very important.  We also need to keep in mind that no two people will react to the same situation in the same way.  Getting to know the client and how they act will help in reading the subtle body language hints.

Posted by Patrick Brady (The Danberry Co., Realtors) over 12 years ago

George,... I agree with Sara....  good and original. SO much of you talked about were the basics, yet so many of us don't keep it in the back of our minds. Gee... I am Irish and I use my hands a lot like Italians would when describing something. Nothing against Italians. But kind of like when they squeeze their fingers together and hold them up to their mouth.

When you talked about good sales people able to read the body language of others....  maybe we can come up with something for the phones.  ;o)  That is so hard at times. Again, good post.

Posted by Jeff Belonger, The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans ( Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc) over 12 years ago
I've heard a lot about this and agree but I don't think I'll ever get good at understanding it.
Posted by George W. Miller, Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty) over 12 years ago

Laurie - I agree totallly

Vicky - Yes we are all in a people business

Sarah - We are soooo much on the same page on how we think!

Patrick - Right on!

Jeff - You go Irish dude!

George - Just keep working on it my friend

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

When i was 18 i read a book called "How to read a person like a book"

it was all about body language and how to tell what a person was feeling or actually trying to say to you.... intonation on the phone and smilies in e-mail help a LOT...but knwoing how a person feels while you are talking to them is a great thing....


Posted by Alexander Harb, Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing (Knights Investing) over 12 years ago

I too think the ability to "read" a person is very important in this line of work. I find that people's words and  body language sometimes say two different things. In this case, I usually lean towards the body language as it is more of an unconscious tell all ( Remember Tonya Harding...) Good post George !   

Posted by Kelli Fronabarger, Realtor - Bend Oregon (Bend River Realty Inc.) over 12 years ago
Thanks for sharing Alexader....good stuff for sure
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Thanks Kelli....I agree 100% with you.  Body language is oh so very powerful
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

I coulda made a fortune if I mastered this book.  I missed the part where if the horse scratches its nose just prior to a race, it means it wants to take a nap.

Posted by Rob Robinson- Lehigh Valley PA (Bertrum Settlements (Title & Abstract)) over 12 years ago
Hmmm, thanks for sharing my friend.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
I read the article - or something very similar - and was surprised at some of what they mentioned - - hand in the pocket playing w/ change - - it's good stuff. 
Posted by Heather Saul (Weichert Realtors Hoey Group) over 12 years ago

When dealing with a client face to face and showing them what type of mortgage it is easy to see if they like what you are showing them. Sometimes customers will come closer to the computer screen when the qualification is shown to them.

Great blog George


Posted by Eddy Martinez (Nationwide Funding Group) over 12 years ago
An understanding of body lauguage is important. The mouth may lie, but the body can give it away.
Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) over 12 years ago
Thanks Heather....yes it is good stuff
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

That is so true Eddy...Thanks

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Well put Wayne, the mouth can be evil at times!
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Body language is facinating.  When I have time, I find myself watching the home sales shows on cable.  It is a great lesson on body language.  This was a good refresher, thanx.
Posted by Joan Snodgrass (Midamerica Referral Network) over 12 years ago
Thank you Joan -  You are a great student!
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Body language is great, but don't try to over-analyze someone who is afraid to make a decision by their own nature.   These individuals may need additional coddling, and are best suited to a follow up meeting.
Posted by Tom Giansante (The Title Company of Jersey) over 12 years ago
Body language is very important -- as you point out -- both reading the consumer's body language and watching your own!  The other key, is active listening -- we should have the consumer doing most of the taking -- not us.  We should be doing the listening and good questioning --  nice post.
Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 12 years ago
LOL...thanks my friend.  I hope all is well for you.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Thanks Joan, You are right on the money and thanks for your kind comments.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Reading a client is just the beginning of winning the battle. Next, you have to choose how to respond. Perhaps even trickier is watching while you are talking and responding to body language that is being modified during the process. Tricky stuff, eh?
Posted by John Cilladi, REALTOR, EcoBroker, e-PRO (Keller Williams Real Estate) over 12 years ago

Hi George - GREAT post, and a great reminder of the importance of being able to read our clients and potential clients and customers.  I've taken a couple of body language courses over the years, and I learn something new every time.  Body language reading and good listening skills should be tops in everyone's book.

"Let Me Hear Your Body Talk" - this is a great seminar and book written by Jan Hargrave.  One of her seminars goes by the same name.  She spoke at one of our state conventions within the last 2-3 years, and she was just terrific!


Posted by Ann Cummings, Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent (RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine) over 12 years ago

Right on John...I agree 100% Thanks

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Thanks for sharing Ann I appreciate it. I hope all is well.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
When I was in school, people always thought I was sad or whatever, because of a "serious look" I always had on my face.  I had never really noticed it until then, but I started paying closer attention to the people around me.  Turns out, my mom has the same "serious look," when she's not smiling, so I think it's just the way our mouths are naturally.  I started intentionally smiling all the time, and now I think people wonder what in the world I'm so happy about.  I guess I can't win.  At the very least, I have a new perspective on reading others, without knowing whether they're "built" that way or if they're actually saying something with their body language.
Posted by Amber Riviere (Brown Bug, LLC) over 12 years ago
Don't over analize my friend.  Just accept the fact that you have a BEAUTIFUL smile and it lights up the world :-)
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

When I was in management, the company gave all potential real estate agents a computer "test" to see if they were really suitable for real estate sales or where they might fall as far as $$.  The company suggested I take the test as well to become acquainted with it. 

So, I logged on to the virtual customer with real estate agent test, but there was one snafu, the company computer did not have speakers

Now I could have just logged off, but I figured "what the heck" and took the test anyway.  I paid attention to the body language.  I finished the test knowing full well I could possibly embarrass myself.  With a click, the results were sent off to corporate headquarters for review and then bounced back to me.  Kicking myself,  I couldn't believe I did that!  WHAT was I thinking?

When I got the results, I leaned back in my chair and laughed.   I did exceptionally well!

The moral of the story for me:  I am glad I took the test without sound because getting a little hard of hearing in old age runs in my family and I may be able to put off buying a Miracle Ear.    ;)


Posted by Ruthman Real Estate (Accessibility & The Power to Advise) over 12 years ago
This is something we should all pay attention to but when you've focused on what you are doing, you are not focusing on the client/customer.
Posted by Julie Chapman, New Homes Sales Lakeland Florida (DR Horton ) over 12 years ago
Thanks so much Chris & Rhonda....thanks so much for taking the time to write to me. Have a great evening!
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
Thanks Julie...I agree
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

Body language is extremely important.  Knowing when to stop or change gears is a big part of being a salesman. 

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 12 years ago

Randy - Thank you and have a great day

Phylena - Good for you - keep up the great attitude

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

Good and useful points.  It's amazing what we take for granted.  I really think body language helps us make a point without saying what we mean.  As in your case, it helped you get the listing from your friend.

Posted by Ken Spencer, for Verrado, Buckeye, Sundance (Serendra Realty Group ) over 12 years ago
Thanks Ken, This is so true.  Have a great day.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago

I love to people watch at places.  Its funny how much you can tell with body language. You can also tell a personality by body language. How they stand in conversation (arms folded or on their sides)

Posted by Angela Wagner (Coldwell Banker Gundaker) over 12 years ago
LOL...You are like some of my friends that love to watch people Angela. Thanks for stopping by.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 12 years ago
This is a really good post.  I heard from CYNDEE HAYDON I could learn ALOT from YOU!!! 
Posted by Susie Roscoe, Real Estate Specialist | Brandon, FL (Signature Realty Associates) about 12 years ago