If you’re having trouble connecting with your residents, it might be communication error. According to nationally recognized body language expert Jan Hargrave, and many other professionals who study personality and motivational factors, only 7% of all communication is verbal.  It really isn’t the words you say that creates a lasting impression, it is how you say them, your posture and your tone.

Millions of dollars are spent each year on marketing research and efforts to discover what motivates buyers. Residential property research shows that renters want convenience, access to public transportation, open spaces and a safe place that feels like home. One thing that all of those needs have in common is an emotional connection. Understanding how a resident feels about your property (and the world in general) will help you build a stronger relationship with them.

Studying body language reveals some universal clues about individual personalities. While this isn’t an exact science, posture, facial expressions, subtle changes in tone or inflection and gait provide valuable insight to better understand your renters.

Hargrave says that a majority of all communication is non-verbal. Here are a few examples of how you can adjust your body language and interpret what your tenant is trying to tell you when words aren’t enough.

Open and Accepting

A person that stands straight, smiles, makes good eye contact and angles his or her body slightly toward you is generally open to communication and comfortable with the environment. She is more prone to reach out for a handshake. Most people identify this person as friendly and outgoing.  This type of tenant normally says what she means and expects you to do the same.

Shy and Awkward

A shy individual often lacks confidence. He rarely holds direct eye contact, avoids touching – sometimes is uncomfortable shaking hands – and creates barriers by folding arms across the chest, turning slightly away from you or grasping a book or other item in front of him.  You can put this person at ease by encouraging him to tell you what he needs to feel comfortable. Although community gatherings and parties may sound appealing, he will often be more motivated to look for apartments away from the crowd.

Aggressive or Angry

An aggressive personality type is often easy to spot. Avoids eye contact, angles the upper body away from you, generally has a classic “smirk” on the face, and walks with a swagger or extremely heavy foot step. These same clues also indicate an arrogant personality type. Your best strategy for communication with these personalities is to remain calm, let them feel like they are leading the conversation and avoid conflict by restating their needs to confirm you understand before adding new information.

Experts say that 38% of communication is expressed via tone or inflection. Listening for changes in the voice helps differentiate an aggressive personality from arrogant personality.

Personality Profiles Help Build Rapport

Regardless of the personality type involved, most people display common body language in response to stimuli. A slight, sudden lift of the eye-brow indicates heightened interest, biting one’s lip shows hesitation or nervousness, and standing with one foot slightly in front of the other reveals the person is assuming dominance in the situation.

Understanding a tenant’s personality helps build rapport because it improves communication, if you use the right techniques. Watch for subtle clues and respond with appropriate responses. For example, if your shy, awkward resident doesn’t want to renew the lease, it might be where her apartment is located in the complex. Before she walks out the door, discuss other apartments. If you can get her to open up, she might tell you that she really would like to be closer to the action, even if she doesn’t engage very often.

Tying it Together

Offering extraordinary amenities, onsite retail options and community-sponsored events makes your property appealing for residents. Properly maintaining the facilities, upgrading appliances and color schemes and perfectly manicured green spaces add value to your property. Developing a clearer understanding of diverse personalities as part of  relationship building strategies is one more tool that property managers can leverage to generate brand loyalty.