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Body Language

As important as the spoken word is, body language may convey even more information than speech. As a coach, you need to be aware of how body language works. It is essential that you be able to read clients’ body language and also be able to make them aware of how it works so that they can incorporate it into their success toolbox.

We are told that we should not judge books by their covers, and we all understand the hazards of doing that. However, the fact is that people form impressions and make judgments tremendously quickly, based almost entirely on looks. Body language is part of this―so it makes sense to be aware of the signals we send and how they may be read.

Counsellor and business developer Brett Greene offers the following list of the most vital body language elements:

  • Posture –Pretend there is a string on the top of your head being pulled up.  Drop the tension in your shoulders and pull them back so that your chest moves forward.  Straighten your back.
  • Presence – Lean back and take up space.  This is how people who are strong, in control, confident and happy naturally carry themselves.
  • Face – Smile.  You will look and feel better and be more inviting to people.  Drop the tension in your jaw.  Most people clench their jaw most of their waking hours without knowing it.
  • Eye contact – Look people in the eye, but not in a creepy way.  No staring contests unless you want to give off a stalker vibe.  When you make eye contact, you make a deep connection and take in more profound levels of people’s personalities.
  • Arms and hands – Crossing your arms and legs do not necessarily mean you are closed off, but if that is your usual way of holding yourself it is not good.  Keep your hands out of your pockets unless you want to be weak and submissive.
  • Leg Stance – Stand in a manner that’s open with your weight on one leg.  This stance communicates that you are both confident and approachable.

Voice is involved in this, too:

  • Tone – Deep voices command attention more easily.  Soft sounds are harder to hear though they also cause the listener to work harder to listen to you, which makes the listener more attentive.
  • Pacing – Speaking slowly has a similar effect to speaking softly and shows that you are centred and calm.  Speaking fast conveys feeling off-centre and reactive to outer circumstances.

Greene points out that our physiology has an incredible influence on our mood―so even a client who’s not feeling assertive or confident should try adopting some of the above approaches; the effect on mood may be surprising.