Where does the customer sit?
We get this question from our Japanese clients a lot. In Japan, where you sit in a meeting or negotiation matters. The customer sits in the place of respect: the seat furthest from the door.
In the US this matters less…or does it?
We have found that where you sit really does make a difference. The key in the US is to reinforce a sense of cooperation. Right angles work well.
When coaching clients in a one-to-one setting, for example, sitting at a right angle to the client provides a sense of coordinated focus. From a practical standpoint, sitting at a right angle allows us to easily share materials with the client.
Sitting directly across from the client creates a feeling of opposition. This is not good.
In sales meetings and negotiations, this same strategy can work. Aligning yourself next to, rather than across from, your customer or partner can encourage cooperation. It reinforces the idea that you are both, literally, on the same side.