Communicating with Body Language

We are constantly communicating, even when we are not speaking. Unspoken communication makes up over half of what we tell others and they tell us. It affects our work and personal relationships. Improves negotiating, management, and interpersonal skills by correctly interpreting body language and important signals.

Learning a New Language
In many ways understanding body language is like learning a foreign language. There are a few tips that make learning any language, even a nonverbal one, easier.
• Set Goals: Make sure that your goals are realistic and have specific timelines.
• Devote time to learning: Schedule time to practice. Do not rely on spare time.
• Practice daily: Hone skills by continued practice.
• Enjoy the process: You are not in school. Relax and have fun with your new skill.

The Power of Body Language
Understanding body language does more than improve relationships. You will get insight into the thoughts and feelings of those around you. Because it is not a conscious form of communication, people betray themselves in their body language. Body language is powerful in several ways.

Power of Body Language:
• It is honest: Body language conveys truth, even when words do not.
• Creates self-awareness: Understanding body language helps you identify your own actions that hinder success.
• Understand feelings: Body language shows feelings and motive such as aggression, submission, deception, etc. Use these as cues to your communication.
• Enhance listening and communication skills: Paying attention to body language makes someone a better listener. Hear between the words spoken to what is being said.

More than Words
Much of the way people communicate is nonverbal. Body language specifically focuses on physical, not tone, or pitch. It includes the following characteristics.
Body Language:
• Proximity: The distance between people
• Positioning: Position of a body
• Facial expression: The eyes are particularly noticed.
• Touching: This includes objects, people, and themselves.
• Breathing: The rate of respiration is telling.

Actions Speak Louder than Words
Our impressions of each other are based on more than words. People can have cordial conversations and not like each other. The actions that we take are stronger than our words. For example, a person may dismiss someone using body language and not saying anything negative. Like it or not, our body language makes a lasting impression on the people around us.

What Actions Can Say:
• Deception
• Confidence
• Nerves
• Boredom
• Emotions
• Attraction
• Being open
• Being closed off
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of what body language can communicate.

Reading Body Language
We are constantly reading the body language of others, even when we are not aware of it. Actively reading body language, however, will provide valuable insight and improve communication. Pay attention to the positions and movements of people around you. Specifically their head positions, physical gestures, and eyes.

Head Position
The head is an obvious indicator of feelings and thoughts. The position of the head speaks volumes, making it the perfect place to start. While it takes practice to accurately interpret head position, the basic positions, and movements that are not extremely difficult to identify.

Movement and Position:
• Nodding: Nodding typically indicates agreement. The speed of the nod, however, indicates different things. A slow nod can be a sign of interest or a polite, fake signal. Look to other eyes for confirmation. A fast nod signals impatience with the speaker.
• Head up: This position indicates that the person is listening without bias.
• Head down: This position indicates disinterest or rejection for what is said. When done during an activity, it signals weakness or tiredness.
• Tilted to the side: This means a person is thoughtful or vulnerable. It can signal trust.
• Head high: Holding the head high signals confidence or feelings of superiority.
• Chin up: The chin up indicates defiance or confidence.
• Head forward: Facing someone directly indicates interest. It is a positive signal.
• Tilted down: Tilting the head down signals disapproval.
• Shaking: A shaking head indicates disagreement. The faster the shaking, the stronger the disagreement.

Translating Gestures into Words
Scientific studies show that the part of the human brain that comprehends words is the same part of the brain that comprehends gestures. Gestures are also called movement clusters because it is more than a body position. We use gestures when we speak, typically hand gestures. They enhance meaning, or can be used by themselves.

• Pointing finger: This is an aggressive movement. When a wink is added, however, it is a positive confirmation of an individual.
• Finger moves side to side: This motion acts as a warning to stop something.
• Finger moves up and down: This acts as a reprimand or places emphasis on what is said.
• Thumbs up: Thumbs up is a sign of approval.
• Thumbs down: This is a sign of disapproval.
• Touch index finger to thumb: The sign indicates OK.

Open Vs. Closed Body Language
Body language is often defined as open or closed. Being open or closed has many different causes. Open body language can come from passivity, aggression, acceptance, supplication, or relaxation. Closed body language may be caused by the desire to hide, self-protection, cold, or relaxation.

Closed body language:
• Arms crossed: This stance is often defensive or hostile.
• Legs crossed when seated: Cross legs can indicate caution. One leg over the other at the knee may indicate stubbornness.
• Arm or object in front of the body: This can coincide with nervousness and is a form of self-protection.
• Legs crossed when standing: This may mean someone is insecure when combined with crossed arms. By itself, it can signal interest.

Open body language:
• Legs not crossed: This is an open, relaxed position.
• Arms not crossed: Open arms indicate openness; although the hands may indicate aggression, supplication, or insecurity, depending on their position.

The Eyes Have It
People give a great deal away through their eyes. The eyes are an important factor when reading a person’s body language. When combined with body position, the eyes will provide a more accurate translation of body language.
• Looking to the left: Eyes in this direction can mean someone is remembering something. Combined with a downward look, it indicates the self-communication. When looking up, it means facts are being recalled.
• Sideways: Looking sideways means someone is conjuring sounds. Right, is associated with imagination, and may mean a story. Left is accessing memory.
• Looking to the right: Looks to the right indicates imagination. It can mean guessing or lying. Combined with looking down, it means there is a self-question. Combined with looking up, it can mean lying.
• Direct eye contact: When speaking, this means sincerity and honesty. When listening, it indicates interest.
• Wide eyes: Widening eyes signal interest.
• Rolled eyes: Rolled eyes mean frustration. They can be considered a sign of hostility.
• Blinking: Frequent blinking indicates excitement. Infrequent blinking signals a boredom or concentration, depending focus.
• Winking: A wink is a friendly gesture or secret joke.
• Rubbing eyes: Rubbing eyes may be caused by tiredness. It can also indicate disbelief or being disturbed.

Source: Body Language Basics workshop

Why You Need a Life Coach?

Life coaching is about encouraging and empowering the client in their personal and professional life. One of the biggest problems many people face is a difficulty to make life decisions. Some maybe minor, such as deciding to join a gym or repaint your house, while other decisions can be major, such as a decision to start a business or change careers. People have different reasons for being afraid to make decisions, whether they are scared the decision will be the wrong one or that they may let themselves or someone else down with whatever they choose. While life coaches are not intended to make the decisions for the client, they are meant to guide the client and inform them about their choices and the pros and cons of their decisions – which enable the client to work toward making their own choices.

Prioritizing Projects and Timelines
Life coaches can be a great tool in many areas, especially for getting assistance with organizing and prioritizing a client’s projects and deadlines. For some clients, they are unable to organize and prioritize the different aspects of their life, including work and personal business. When they cannot get these affairs in order, deadlines and timelines are often missed or projects are forgotten altogether. A life coach can help the client take a look at everything happening in their lives and determine what is most important to accomplish and what they want to work in or out of their schedules. It also helps the client to feel less overwhelmed with their schedule and feel more empowered to tackle what they need to get done in their own timeframe.

Urgent Situations
Every person will come across some form of urgent or high risk situation in their life. For some people, they need help finding out how to cope with these situations and how to overcome them. These types of situations can cause a large amount of anxiety and can put a lot of pressure on a purpose – which usually makes them shut down and avoid facing the problem. For a life coach, the goal is to help the client focus on the problem at hand and make them realize the options they have at their disposal – but can very quickly use. The focus goes back to making key decisions and prioritizing different aspects. A life coach can help the client recognize an urgent or high risk situation while giving them the tools to address the situation and remain calm while working through them.

Lack of Balance
It is important to have a healthy balance between our professional and personal lives – one area should never overpower the other. But, with many people, finding the right balance that works for them is the hard part. Some people find they spend too much time in this personal life and ‘blow off’ their work responsibilities. Others are just the opposite in that they spend too much time at work and forget to pay attention to their personal lives outside of the office. Life coaches know this is generally defined as a life balance – a balance between major aspects in our lives. When client feel their life balance is outweighed by one area or another, they seek help from a life coach for ways to make things more even. A life coach can use a variety of tools to help the client create organization in their life and ultimately create a plan of action to help them sort out their own life balance and what works best for them.

The Benefits of Life Coaching
Since many individuals are not aware of what a life coach is or does, they are also not aware of the benefits a life coach has to offer. Life coaches help clients achieve their goals in both their professional and personal life, so the client can benefit from better organization, improved decision skills and even boosted confidence.

Set Performance Targets
To some people, a performance target can seem intimidating to set and aim for. But setting a performance target to aim for is similar to establishing a long term goal to work on. Once a person has determined they will set a ‘goal’ for themselves to complete, they begin to feel more confident and ready to begin the work. One of the first steps a life coach can help with is to establish what performance target, or goal, the client wants to establish. Maybe they want to save more money over a course of several months or maybe they want to change careers by the end of the year. Once the client establishes their target, the life coach can help them work out some sort of guideline or plan to follow to help them reach it.

Cope with Pressure and Stress
Stress happens to everyone. Unfortunately, not everyone can handle stress and pressure effectively. It’s no surprise that many people need help from someone, such as a life coach, to find tools and techniques to handle their stress and pressures. A life coach can help the client examine their life and help understand why they could be feeling this way and what is in their control to change the situation. Then, the life coach can help the client explore their current stress levels and even work to determine the client’s stress threshold and identify specific stress triggers.
The four A’s of coping with stress:
• Avoid
• Alter
• Adapt
• Accept

Develop and Maintain Vision
Some of the first steps a client takes with their life coach is to decide what they want in life and establish some form of goal or target. Once they decide what they want and what they want to work toward, the life coach can help the client begin to develop and maintain a vision to carry with them. This vision can make the client’s wants and goals become more definite and more long-term. While a life coach cannot make the client work toward their goal or tell them what to do to get there, they can offer the client morale and emotional support, assistance when they are stuck or even a simple confidence booster when the client begins to fall behind. Again, the point of the life coach is not to do the work for the client, but to give the client what they need to succeed on their own and enjoy their own glory.

Maintain Motivation
For any person, their own worst enemy is a lack of motivation. Everyone has dreams and goals they want to achieve, but without enough motivation, these dreams and goals will never be reached. Many of us lack our own self-motivation and can find it difficult to remain on track toward our targets. With the help of a life coach, a client can learn tools for self-motivation and stay focused on what they want. When the client begins to lose this motivation and feel as though they are off track, they can consult with their life coach for support and help finding their way again.
Tips for staying motivated:
• Take small steps
• Make reasonable, obtainable goals
• Reward yourself
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Source: Life Coaching Essentials workshop