Tomás Dueñas Uribe’s Blog

Im the founder of Mavish.com and a Growth Hacker in Silicon Valley. I moved to San Francisco from Berlin during 2013 and was the growth hacker at Virool, a YC startup. During my time there, Virool experienced the highest growth out of all of the 500 startups companies in Silicon Valley. (1)

During the past year I won 5 global hackathons in a row. Three in Berlin, one in London and one in San Francisco. The last one was quite significant because it was the global version of AngelHack, which means that my team and I beat 6000 other hackers from the main capitals of the world. (2)

Im always very happy to help other entrepreneurs. During my time in Berlin, I helped 7 different startups with their growth strategies. Some of my strengths are on Search Engine Marketing (Managed a very successful 350k USD monthly campaign), A/B Testing, Email Loops, User Retention, SEO (1 million organic visits per month), Social Media (3 Million Fans on FB), Youtube (2.5 Million Views) HackerNews (2700 Karma), Mobile App Viralization (500k downloads on the Google Play Store). Im ready to help so go ahead and email me. Read on!

Mavish Reaches 2.5 Million Visitors on It’s First Six Weeks

Mavish is now six weeks old and has just reached more than 2.5 Million Visitors. It’s currently ranking as the number 2 startup in Colombia and will be representing Colombia at the MassChallenge competition in Boston during this last week of October.

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Cool to notice that the only startups within the top 10 ranking that have not yet received funding by investors are Mavish and Carros.com.co :)

Tomás Dueñas Uribe on Growth Hacking

The Power Of Social Media

Its incredible to see what a single facebook post is capable of achieving in terms of traffic and engagement. In no other time in the history of the internet, was it possible to get 55K interested visitors from a single facebook post. Yesterday I got 55K free visits to my new startup Mavish.com from a single facebook post. My server couldn’t withstand the weight of such an onslaught of traffic so I only a fraction of the traffic registered, 28K of them. But all in all, this made me appreciate the incredible power of social media. If you’ve purchased traffic before, you probably know that purchasing a click for less than 2 cents is almost impossible. At that price, which is almost impossible to find, that kind of traffic would cost you 1.1k USD. So to receive that with just one post on a given day seems amazing to me.

Is Facebook advertising more effective if you already have a large fan base? Say a page with 50k vs one with 250k

Answer by Tomas Dueñas Uribe:

Whenever the FB ad is a sponsored story, the amount of initial fans and their engagement, elevate that ad's effectiveness. The logic behind it is that people tend to have a higher desire to interact with the post, if the number of people already interacting with it is high. General social validation and approval is a variable that affects almost every decision we make in life.

As a second reason, a sponsored story tends to target friends of fans that have liked the post. When you sponsor a post that already has good and relevant interaction, the amount of people that Facebook has to show the post in order to get an interaction is lower. Therefore, having a higher amount of probabilities of organic interactions before the promotion, will increase the overall effectivity of the campaign.

Whenever the FB ad is not related to the Fan Page and is just a picture and a link that appears on the right hand column of Facebook, the amount of fans has no bearings upon its effectivity. The determining factors are the quality of the copy, the attractiveness of the image, and the targeted audience. The right balance between the three will drive a campaign's effectiveness. You need sufficient A/B testing between different combinations, in order to get a sense of what an appropriate CTR and CPM is within your subject.

View Answer on Quora

The Best Way To Get Out and Do It

I stumbled upon this post on Quora, and knew I had to share it.

Life Advice: How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating?

Oliver Emberton responds:

I’ll answer your question, but first I need to explain all of human civilisation in 2 minutes with the aid of a cartoon snake.

Humans like to think we’re a clever lot. Yet those magnificent, mighty brains that allow us to split the atom and touch the moon are the same stupid brains that can’t start an assignment until the day before it’s due.

We evolved from primitive creatures, but we never quite shed ourselves of their legacy. You know the clever, rational part of your brain you think of as your human consciousness? Let’s call him Albert. He lives in your brain alongside an impulsive baby reptile called Rex:

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(Rex is your basal ganglia, but that’s not very catchy so I’m sticking with Rex).

Rex evolved millions of years ago – unsurprisingly enough, in the brains of reptiles – and his instincts guide and motivate you to this day. Hunger. Fear. Love. Lust. Rex’s thoughts are primitive and without language.

Here’s the bit you’re not going to like. Rex makes the final call on all your decisions. Every. Single. One.

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We like to think of Albert as “our true self” – the conscious part of your brain. He’s the talking, reasoning part. When we decide to go to the gym or write that term paper, Albert made that decision.

Rex does listen to Albert. Like a child, he will do a lot of what he’s told, as long as he wants to. But if Rex prefers to crash on the sofa to watch Survivor and eat Cheetos, that’s what you’re going to do.

The incredible ascension of mankind that surrounds us is largely possible because we’ve developed systems to nurture our reptilian brains, to subdue, soothe and subvert them.

Much of this system we call “civilisation”. Widely available food and shelter take care of a lot. So does a system of law, and justice. Mandatory education. Entertainment. Monogamy. All of it calms Rex down for long enough for Albert to do something useful – like discover penicillin, or invent Cheetos.

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Now let’s look at your procrastination.

You’re making a decision with your conscious mind and wondering why you’re not carrying it out. The truth is the real decision maker – Rex – is not nearly so mature.

Imagine you had to constantly convince a young child to do what you wanted.  For simple actions, asserting your authority might be enough. “It’s time for dinner”. But if that child doesn’t want to do something, it won’t listen. You need to cajole it:

  • Forget logic. Once you’ve decided to do something, logic and rationale won’t help you. Your inner reptile can be placated, scared and excited. But it doesn’t speak with language and cannot be reasoned with.
  • Comfort matters. If you’re hungry, tired or depressed your baby reptile will rebel. Fail to take care of yourself, and he’ll wail and scream and refuse to do a damn thing you say. That’s what he’s for. Eat, sleep and make time for fun.
  • Nurture discipline. Build a routine of positive and negative reinforcement. If you want a child to eat their vegetables, don’t give them dessert first. Reward yourself for successes, and set up assured punishments for your failure. Classic examples include committing to a public goal, or working in a team – social pressure can influence Rex.
  • Incite emotion. Your reptile brain responds to emotion. That is its language. So get yourself pumped, or terrified. Motivational talks, movies and articles can work, for a while. I use dramatic music (one of my favourite playlists is called Music to conquer worlds by). Picture the bliss associated with getting something done, or the horrors of failing. Make your imagination vivid enough that it shakes you. We use similar tricks on children for a reason: “brush your teeth or they’ll fall out”.
  • Force a start. The most important thing you can do is start. Much of Rex’s instincts are to avoid change, and once you begin something those instincts start to tip into your favour. With enough time, you can even convince Rex to love doing the things he hated. There’s a reason we force kids to go to school or to try piano lessons.
  • Bias your environment. Rex is short sighted and not terribly bright. If he sees a Facebook icon, he’ll want it. It’s like showing a child the start of a cool TV program immediately before bedtime. Design your environment to be free from such distractions: sign out of instant messenger, turn off notifications, turn off email. Have separate places for work and fun, and ideally separate computers (or at least accounts).

Once you know what to look for, you’ll start to recognise the patterns and control them.

There’s an impulsive baby reptile in your brain, and unfortunately he has the steering wheel. If you can be a good parent to him he’ll mostly do what you say, and serve you well. Just remember who’s in charge.

Original Quora post: http://www.quora.com/Life-Advice/How-do-I-get-over-my-bad-habit-of-procrastinating

A Story of Growth at Carros.com.co

Back in 2006, my high-school friends and I decided to create the website Carros.com.co. Im very happy to see that today, 7 years later, it has become a very healthy multi national business that Im happy to be running on a day to day basis.

When we started, we knew we were standing against a huge titan in the field, TuCarro.com. At the time, they had complete control over the automotive classifieds space in Colombia. In 2008, they  were acquired by MercadoLibre, and with that push, they had a sticker on every car on the streets. Being young, we didnt have much access to resources to inject towards our new venture. So we set out to learn everything we could about growing a website without having a marketing budget.

We delved into SEO mainly. We knew we had a good product so it was a matter of getting a decent placement under the main keywords “carros” and “carros usados”. We soon realized that our domain, carros.com.co, was favored by the search engines due to the fact that it had an exact match on those searches. We also realized that users were staying on our site for a fair amount of time, generating many pageviews per visit. This in turn favored our rankings greatly.

During 2011, we found a new cofounder who helped us redevelop the backend of our site. We had been using a PHP framework, and migrated to a Ruby on Rails backend. This change had a very strong impact on our inbound traffic, due to the inner linking structure of the site, the automatic generation of inner pages and the swiftness of load times. Not only were we now ranking on the first spot for all of the main keywords associated with used cars in Colombia. We were know addressing an insanely big long tail audience that were looking for very specific car related things on the search engines.

With that accelerated growth, we started to expand to other countries. We set up Carros.com.ve in Venezuela, and within 10 months started hitting 250k pageviews per month. As of this post, we’re currently developing the Brazilian version of our site on Carros.co. Although thats not the local domain in Brazil, Google treats it as a generic domain and we will be counting on a very strong SEO strategy in order to take on the big guys WebMotors.com.br and iCarros.com.br. They’re both owned by Santander and Itaú respectively, the biggest banks in Brazil, so we shalt see.

Finally, we’re now the owners of Carros.com.gt, Carros.com.hn, Carros.co.cr and Carros.com.pr. We will continue our expansion through latin america and central america. Hopefully everything works out for the best and we can create value for everyone throughout the region.

A Great Year: Winning 5 Global Hackathons in a Row

There was a method and a process that I followed to win 5 different global hackathons in a row. If you happen to be getting ready for a hackathon, dont hesitate to shoot me an email and i’ll help you out.

AngelHack Global Version: San Francisco 2013

Tomas Dueñas Uribe AngelHack

Jonny Burch, Tomas Dueñas Uribe

 AngelHack London 2012

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Alick Varma, Nico Estevez, Tomas Dueñas Uribe, Jonny Burch

Linkedin European Hackathon 2012

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Anthony Hsiao, Tomas Dueñas Uribe, Riva-Melissa Tez, Alessandro Petrucciani, Emiliano Saurin

Health 2.0 European Hackathon 2012

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Jure Triglav, Tomas Dueñas Uribe, Ville Tapani, Marko Nikolovski

 ImmobilienScout24 Hackathon 2012

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How To Negotiate Anything

 

Power, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a simple formula that anyone can use in order to increase their perceived power. By following that formula, you unlock the ability to successfully negotiate anything.

The formula is rather simple, yet for full effect, I’ll illustrate it with a powerful story.

Imagine a prisoner in a solitary confinement. The authorities have removed his shoe laces and his belt, because they don’t want him to hurt himself. (They are saving him for them for later on.) The wretch slouches back and forth in his cell, holding up his pants with his left hand, not only because he’s minus a belt, but because he’s minus fifteen pounds. The food they shove under the steel door is slop, and he refuses to eat it. But now, as he runs his fingertips over his ribs, his nostrils pick up the scent of a Marlboro cigarette, his favorite brand.

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Through a tiny porthole in the door, he watches as the lone guard in the corridor sucks in a lungful, then exhales blissfully. Desperate for a cigarette, the prisoner respectfully taps on the door with the knuckles of his right hand.

The guard ambles over and contemptuously grunts, “What do you want?”

The prisoner replies, “I’d like a cigarette please… the kind you’re smoking: a Marlboro.”

The guard mistakenly perceives the prisoner as powerless, so he snorts derisively and turns his back.

The prisoner perceives his situation quite differently. He’s aware of his options; he’s willing to test his assumptions and take risks. So he taps again on the door with the knuckles of his right hand, this time commandingly.

The guard, exhaling a cloud of smoke, irritatedly turns his head. “Now what do you want?”

prisonernegotiation2

The prisoner responds, “Please, I would like one of your cigarettes within the next thirty seconds. If I don’t get it, I’m going to bang my head against the concrete wall till I’m a bloody mess and unconscious. When the prison officials pick me off the floor and revive me, I’ll swear you did it.

“Now, they’ll never believe me, but think of all the hearings you’ll have to attend and the commissions you’ll be testifying before. Think of the reports you’ll have to fill out in triplicate. Think of the administrivia you’ll be tangled in — all that as opposed to giving me one crummy Marlboro! Just one cigarette and I promise not to bother you again.”

Will the guard give him a Marlboro and light it up for him? Certainly. A quick cost-benefit analysis is sufficient for the guard’s perception of the situation to change completely.

So how can you, my dear reader, negotiate anything by altering other people’s perception of your power level?

Power formula: Be aware of your options, test your assumptions, take shrewdly calculated risks based on solid information, and be convinced that you possess the level of power that you want to display.

Remember; it is you who determines how others see, believe and react upon you.

Go ahead and renegotiate your term sheets, your salary, your responsibilities. Know what you’re worth and let them see it.

Why Do Startups Need a Growth Hacker?

So you might have been wondering.. what is a growth hacker and why are so many startups posting jobs looking for growth hackers? Lets first look at what Paul Graham has to say about the importance of growth within startups, in his essay called Startups = Growth.

If you want to understand startups, understand growth. Growth drives everything in this world. Growth is why startups usually work on technology—because ideas for fast growing companies are so rare that the best way to find new ones is to discover those recently made viable by change, and technology is the best source of rapid change. Growth is why it’s a rational choice economically for so many founders to try starting a startup: growth makes the successful companies so valuable that the expected value is high even though the risk is too. Growth is why VCs want to invest in startups: not just because the returns are high but also because generating returns from capital gains is easier to manage than generating returns from dividends. Growth explains why the most successful startups take VC money even if they don’t need to: it lets them choose their growth rate. And growth explains why successful startups almost invariably get acquisition offers. – Paul Graham

The process through which startups grow tends to be left to chance on many occasions. Founders many times focus on having an incredible product, assuming that along will come the users and the recognition. Thats not always the case. Its something that can happen, specially if you’re within a strong startup hub, but its not always a successful process. Many times that flurry of attention provoked by media drowns out and leaves a vacuum within a startup. Therefore, to achieve sustainable long term growth, its important to have someone on the team who understands the ways in which growth is achieved and retained.

Lets have a look at Andrew Chen’s definition of what a Growth Hacker is. His article defining a growth hacker was the first piece regarding the subject that gained widespread notoriety. He defines:

Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of “How do I get customers for my product?” and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit, they can help run up the score on what’s already working. – Andrew Chen

Thats a great definition, then again I feel as though a great growth hacker should have very strong strategies and channels through which to funnel a big audience towards any product. Those channels should ideally not represent any cost to the growth hacker. When I develop growth campaigns for startups, I set up a whole retention funnel on a series of landing pages. Those landing pages are engineered to decrease bounce rates and elevate conversions. Then I use my different channels to quickly send the first seven hundred or so users towards that funnel. My channels are a FB fan page with 3 million fans, a Youtube channel with 2 million views, HackerNews (when carefully crafted posts of high value are written) and very specific SEO/SEM strategies. So to me, a growth hacker should also  have tools at his or her disposal to quickly generate growth without having to spend marketing dollars on it.

How much should a startup pay to have an effective growth hacker within the team? The easy answer is this: pay whatever is necessary to get that person who will give you a 2x or 3x return on your investment. If the growth hacker is doing his job correctly, you will have very specific data with regards to how much revenue and profit is being funneled through his whole campaign. You will know how much he’s having to pay to create a dollar’s worth of profit. According to Angel.co, startups in Silicon Valley are offering growth hackers salaries within the 80k and 130k a year range. It seems to be a fair and competitive compensation.

What do you believe makes a great growth hacker?

838 Visits from a single FB post

Though 838 visits may not sound as much, when you own a website or blog, you understand the difficulty of getting the first few visitors to knock at your door. Yesterday I achieved something that I had been trying to do for the past few months. I have a Facebook page with 2.8 million fans and I usually post nice images that tend to get anywhere from 2k to 5k likes on average. When they´re very good they can get 20 or 30k likes, but that’s sporadic. Lately ive been posting a link as a message accompanying the image, and up to now, a post would shoot some 200 or so visitors to the website of choice. Yesterday though, 838 visits were shot over to my new hotel website verhoteles.com.

What I did was post a beautiful image of an underwater hotel. Check out that engagement:

Right off the bat, as soon as I posted this, the traffic started pouring in, I had around 90 concurrent visitors for the first 5 minutes, then the amount remained stable but throughout the day. I believe it was a combination of many things. On one hand, the image was impacting, people were curious about knowing more about it, which hotel it was, where its located, etc. They might also have thought that the link itself was a link to the actual hotel. Im going to have to think of posts that will generate the same kind of click through rate to the URL. Getting 838 visits through paid advertising would cost quite a bit, so to get the same result with just a post is very interesting to say the least.

Wondering who your closest FB friends are? Theres a hack for that :)

So Facebook knows a lot about you. They know how many times you have seen someones profile, how many inboxes and chats you’ve started, they know how many reciprocal likes you have, how many shared interests, they know when you’re both geographically nearby. So how do they use that knowledge to make your Facebook experience relevant, coherent and accurate? They assign your friends a score, and depending on that score, they make you see more or less of that person, encouraging more or less interaction with them. Its interesting to think, because if facebook were determined to make you like someone more, or at least interact with them more, they certainly have the ways to do it.

So… who are your closest friends according to Facebook? Using a little bit of javascript you can have a neat list of your closest 100 friends. All you need to do is the following:

  • Go to your Facebook profile page, right click anywhere, then click “view page source”. This show’s you the html source code of the page.
  • Now push command + F (or just use the search function of your browser) and search the page for “OrderedFriendsListInitialData”.
  • Now highlight and copy the whole array of numbers after that phrase, excluding the first and last quotation mark.

Now click here and insert those numbers in the text field I have provided. You will then have a neat list of your top 100 friends, as judged by Facebook.

Enjoy

dotCO launches membership program

The dotCO registry launched a special membership program yesterday. Its filled with goodies that anyone can take advantage of, just by having a .co domain name. Ive been trying it out and they have really cool gifts. You can get tickets to startup weekends, you can gain access to cool co-working spaces in London and NYC, you can get free credit on Adsense. All in all, it seems like a great strategy to encourage a proper adoption of the dotCO domain within a community of product builders, people who actually wish to develop great content around their domains.

Kudos to the registry and its team. This new form of  ”virtual startup incubation” is an excellent way to innovate within the domain markets and is certainly an example to follow for all of the upcoming new gTLD’s (.music, .blog, .news, etc).

If you want to be a part of their new membership program, click here and register a dotco if you dont already have one.

Apple has enough cash to buy Amazon, or FB, HP & Dell.

The legacy of Steve Jobs is something that an entrepreneur as myself would do well to study, respect and strive to reach. His dedication towards what he believed in ended up empowering millions of people with functional and beautiful technological tools. As if that wasnt enough, he built a business which nowadays is so incredibly profitable, that with the cash they have in hand (121.3 Billion Usd), they could outright purchase Amazon (market cap of 100.77 Billion), or FB, Yahoo, Dell & HP bundled up.

Its interesting to put it in that perspective. Some of the most iconic, memorable and representative brands of the internet and PC manufacturers, all under one hypothetical roof. Of course, to make a move like that would most certainly ring many bells and scare everyone. Then again its still an Interesting scenario to play in ones mind.

So whats the real question that arises from this? Perhaps this… Will there be a different Apple in 2040? What iconic products or services will lead that company towards its growth. What will my children refuse to leave the house without, when they’re off to study at their universities?

I guess ill try to find out and do it.

New PlayStation 3 Hack May Be Unstoppable

A very interesting development has taken place around the PlayStation 3 with a theoretically unstoppable hack.

The PlayStation 3 has been around since 2006, and since then, hackers have been trying to have their way with it. The system has proven to be very difficult to crack, though not completely impossible.

Sony released a major firmware update for the PS3 in 2011, it was update 3.60. That firmware update patched many of the wholes hackers were using, and prevented modded and hacked consoles from connecting to the online PlayStation Network. Up to now, the only work-around, was to not update past the firmware version 3.55.

Today however, the block keeping hacked consoles away from the network has now been surpassed with custom firmware.  Simultaneously, the LV0 decryption keys for the PS3 have been dispersed through the internetz. According to Eurogamer:

The reveal of the LV0 key basically means that any system update released by Sony going forward can be decrypted with little or no effort whatsoever. Options Sony has in battling this leak are limited – every PS3 out there needs to be able to decrypt any firmware download package in order for the console to be updated (a 2006 launch PS3 can still update directly to the latest software). The release of the LV0 key allows for that to be achieved on PC, with the CoreOS and XMB files then re-encrypted using the existing 3.55 keys in order to be run on hacked consoles.

In simpler words: having access to the key means that a PC can now pretend to be a PS3. It can connect to the network, download information (games, files) and then produce games and files that can be read in physical format by modified PS3 consoles.  As it stands, Sony will most likely be un capable of stopping this work around.

Hacking a Negotiation

The Nonverbal Skills You Need For Successful Negotiation.

Harvard Law School.

Author(s): Tomás Dueñas Uribe
Source: PolicyTank.Org ; Influence & Power within the Public Policy Process.
(Dec, 2010), pp. 21-27
Published by: PolicyTank.Org Publishing

Great books have taught us how to plan and execute a successful negotiation. Interestingly, applying the theory of negotiation is incredibly easy for some, and terribly hard for others. A reason for this, is that some people naturally persuade others by the way they move, look and express their ideas. Fortunately for many of us, it’s possible to learn very simple gestures that with practice, will effectively empower our words and give us an advantage at the negotiating table.

Apart from gestures that will make our words resonate and put us in a favorable position within a negotiation, there are also a series of reactions that we can observe in our counterparts to determine how comfortable they are with the options we are presenting to them. Ideally, by using this nonverbal awareness within our negotiations, we can assess the relative strength of our counterpart´s BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), the scope of the deal´s ZOPA (Zone of Potential Agreement) and their preferences with regards to the different options.

When we think of nonverbal communication, we tend to think of facial gestures. Thanks to a book called What Every BODY Is Saying by Joe Navarro, the approach that we will take in this text focuses on reactions on different sections of the body, like the feet, torso, arms and hands. The logic behind it is that since our infancy, we are taught to mask our facial emotions. Just think of a child that doesn’t like the food he has in front of him. Visualize his face and then imagine what his father will most likely suggest. Society depends on our ability to remain courteous despite our conflicting and very different interests. For that reason, when we look for honest reactions at the other side of the table, its best we focus on every other part of the body. Yet we will cover very specific reactions that are present in the face but that cannot usually be consciously controlled.

To properly understand the natural honesty derived from certain nonverbal communication, it’s important to realize that there is a section in our brain, called the “limbic brain”, which reacts instantly and without thought, towards certain external stimuli (Navarro, 2008, 22). Being in charge of our reflexes, it has played a very important role in the evolution and survival of our species. All of the gestures we will focus on, are controlled directly by the limbic system, and are usually displayed without restraint. Therefore, they may serve a dual purpose. First, we will have an idea of what the others are thinking. Second, we will be aware of our own behavior and have the ability to modify it. By doing so, we will have control over the situation and project security, build rapport, or encourage teamwork whenever needed.

Behaviors to look for when discussing interests and presenting options:

 Pacifying Behaviors.

Every time that our limbic brain reacts towards a stimulus that it finds threatening or discomforting, like an option that is deemed inappropriate, a series of pacifying behaviors become apparent (Navarro, 2008, 35). Look for the following behaviors whenever you or they mention their target price or interest, whenever you ask them a specific question about how they came up with a specific proposal, or whenever they hint that they may walk away from the table due to what they describe as a better BATNA. When you notice they are pacifying, try to understand their situation and reframe the problem so that negotiations may continue.

 One of the most natural and common pacifiers whenever a person is experiencing insecurity or concern over an issue, is to cover or touch the suprasternal notch. This is the space between the thorax and the Adam´s apple, also known as neck dimple. The next time you see this display, think about what the person is discussing or pondering and you will realize that it tends to be something negative that affects the person greatly. On certain occasions, this behavior is displayed more discretely when a woman plays with a necklace or a man constantly adjusts his tie. Being a particularly sensitive and fragile part of our body, having contact with the hand augments the sense of security and tends to soothe whichever discomforting feelings we may be experiencing (Navarro, 2008, 36).

There are other behaviors that have very similar reasons to surface and generate similar pacifying effects. Whenever there is doubt or insecurity in what is being said, the person may place a hand on the neck. When nervous, the person may touch his face or cheeks. Usually after a mishap has occurred, or when pressure has cooled off, a person may also exhale with puffed out cheeks (Navarro, 2008, 40 – 41). All of these behaviors will soothe us and help us remain calm whilst we deal with something that discomforts us.

 A very important pacification behavior that is often unnoticed is “the leg cleanser”. The reason why it tends to go unnoticed is because it usually happens under the table. In this case, the person slides his hands from one end of his thigh to the other. The nerve endings in the thighs and hands are both stimulated by the friction and tend to release tension. During police work, this behavior is given special attention because it almost always appears whenever a suspect is confronted with damning evidence (Navarro, 2008, 47).

 With all of these pacifying behaviors, it’s important to always compare them with the general attitude of the individual. If a person is constantly touching his or her face, that particular behavior will not necessarily reveal helpful information. Your keen observation of his or her base behavior during neutral interaction, will be the key to successfully decoding the pacifying behaviors, however subtle, during further stages.

Important Specific Reactions

During a formal negotiation, you will frequently find yourself making suggestions and asking questions to gauge the interests of the other parties. The normal situation is to expect an honest answer and build up from there. What happens when the other parties refuse to play by the rules and lead you to believe that your offers or suggestions aren’t good enough and therefore are undeserving of adequate pay? With the following specific reactions, you will have a good opportunity to determine if they are holding back genuine interest.

Within our face, there is one thing that we cannot control at will and that gives us very valuable information when negotiating. We have no thoughtful control over our pupils; therefore eye dilation is a very precise way to determine interest (Navarro, 2008, 172). Naturally, when our brain perceives something pleasant, it will dilate or open the pupils, in order to obtain the greatest amount of information to process. When it perceives danger or discomfort, it will constrict the pupils so that we may focus in on the danger and avoid it (Hess, 1975, 110 – 119). This behavior not only limits itself to external stimuli, it reacts in the same way with thoughts. With this information in mind, make an effort to remember this the next time you are about to make an offer. Focus in on the other parties eyes whilst you mention an offer and you will know their real impression without having to wait for a facial expression or their words.

Another great way to read the other persons reaction to your offers, is to notice whenever they move less than usual during a statement. If the person usually accompanies their words with movement of the hands or body, and suddenly remains still whilst answering a question, take note of it. According to certain research, people who are masking true thoughts tend to gesture less and move their legs and arms less than people who say the truth (Vrij, 2003, 65). This occurs because the limbic system wants us to attract the least amount of attention when confronted with a possible danger. The danger in this case, is the risk of being caught deceiving (Navarro, 2008, 157). So be on the lookout for sudden restriction of the limbs whenever a person is expressing disinterest in your offers.

A very easy to spot gesture is the lip purse. This refers to a gesture that looks like a kiss, it occurs when we pucker our lips while being serious. This gesture is present whenever a person that is listening to you is considering a different idea and is not necessarily in agreement with you. According to Joe Navarro, this behavior is often seen at court trials. During the closing remarks of one attorney, the opposing parties will purse their lips in disagreement (Navarro, 2008, 191). During a negotiation, if you happen to be revising a draft of an agreement or a contract, by spotting lip pursing behavior, you may determine which parts to revise and discuss further.

Finally, two very evident gestures that will quickly tell you things are not going as planned and need reframing, are eye blocking and repeated kicking movements of the legs. As soon as something displeasing or negative is heard, our natural reaction is to try to distance ourselves from it. To do so, our limbic brain will instinctively instruct our eyes to close, or our hands to block our view for a moment (Navarro, 2008, 178). The other behavior is automatic and people usually don’t recognize they are doing it. It is called the leg-kick response, and it is a subconscious indication of the intent of combating something that is deemed unpleasant. Both of these responses can be used to your advantage by asking specific questions that would require a yes or no answer, and that the other party might be unwilling to reveal.

The Nonverbal Skills That Will Help You Project Security & Build Rapport:

The following skills will help you generate a positive atmosphere and will give others the impression that you are focused and confident of your proposals. They are especially helpful when dealing with difficult situations and when your own negotiation position is not very strong. Some of them can be applied during our turn to speak, others can be applied while we listen.

While Listening:

One of the most powerful ways to demonstrate you are actively contemplating what the other person is saying, is to lean towards them in a subtle way. Try speaking with someone who is leaning away from you and facing an exit, and you will quickly wish to end the conversation (Navarro, 2008, 91). Instead, when you feel that your listener is facing and leaning towards you, you will be encouraged to share information and have a tendency to see the person in a positive light. Knowing this, it seems particularly important to apply in negotiation settings, where every bit of information is valuable.

As you lean towards the person, the positioning and gesture of your hands is of particular importance. Always avoid hiding your hands under the table or inside your pockets. From a psychological point of view, hidden hands generate suspicion and make others uncomfortable in your presence (Navarro, 2008, 134). Instead of hiding your hands or leaving them face down on the table, you may use “steepling”, which is a powerful hand gesture that denotes high confidence. It is achieved by joining the hands at the fingertips and makes the hands form the shape of an arrow head. Practice a subtle approach to steepling and you will project security whilst remaining refined.

While Speaking:

Compared with other parts of our bodies, the hands tend to capture most of our brain´s attention (Givens, 2005, 31). Anthropologically, our survival has depended on assessing the hands of others because of the threat they can sometimes pose. In the context of day to day interaction and particularly negotiation, effective use of hand gestures to accompany our words, is one of the most important skills to learn. If you could single out a similar trait in all of the great orators and speakers of history, powerful hand gestures would be the one (Navarro, 2008, 135). Some people do it naturally, but for most of us it takes effort and practice. It’s important to keep the gestures controlled so that they don’t distract the listener, but use them to embellish your proposals and attract their subconscious attention.

 A non verbal gesture that will help build rapport and subconsciously heighten positive feelings, is the casual use of thumbs up displays. As with most of these skills, it is important to practice and get a feel of the appropriate timing and frequency with which to use these gestures. If you subtly incorporate thumbs up gestures to your hand movements whilst you speak, you will be projecting a positive attitude that will help you make a conversation go by smoothly.

Finally, whether you are speaking or listening, there is one nonverbal skill that is very hard to mimic but if done effectively, will project confidence, build rapport and encourage a mutual understanding with the other parties. When we are comfortable, our facial muscles usually relax and our head tends to hilt to the side. This behavior exposes our neck and is therefore something that our limbic brain will only permit in safe and comfortable situations (Navarro, 2008, 170). To master this reaction and be comfortable enough to display such a behavior in a negotiation setting, would certainly provide a valuable way of showing others our willingness to work together. Couple that with a natural smile and you will have set the perfect conditions for a positive negotiation where all parties benefit and real value is created.

Concluding Remarks:

Applying these nonverbal skills is challenging and they require practice to employ effectively. Use them along with the propositional method of negotiation outlined in Roger Fisher´s book; Getting to Yes, and hopefully more and more win – win agreements will be reached, instead of traditional bargaining where parties tend to feel left out. All of these skills will also accompany you in your different interactions with close ones and colleagues. So whether you find yourself negotiating an international treatise, or just recommending a particular attire to your loved one, remember to smile and use this knowledge towards the mutual benefit of a satisfying agreement.

Bibliography:

Fisher, R. Ury, W. Patton, B. (1991). Getting to Yes. Negotiating Agreement without giving in. Penguin 2nd Ed.

Givens, D. B (2005) Love signals: A practical guide to the body language of courtship. New York: St. Martin´s Press.

Hess, E. H. (1975). The Role of pupil size in communication. Scientific American 233, 110.

Navarro, J (1998). What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-reading People.

 Ury. W. (1993). Getting Past No. Negotiating in difficult situations. Bantam.

Vrij, A. (2003). Detecting lies and deceit: The psychology of lying and the implications for professional practice. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.