Body language is always a part of coaching programmes that I run which promotes a lot of discussion, views and laughter. Most people think they know something about the subject when in reality, the most important thing to do when in a conversation with someone, is just to be aware of what you observe without over-doing your assumptions about anything you see and the meanings it may hold.
For example, if you fold your arms whilst we’re chatting it could mean:
- You are closed to the topic
- You are comfortable and like to sit with your arms folded
- You are cold
…or a number of other of options. The important thing as a coach is that you have “seen” it.
Shoe on the other foot
What is less often discussed is the body language of the coach and there is one area in particular that I would like you to think about in future conversations that you have.
Question: What are the reasons for me nodding at this point in the conversation?
Here’e why the answer to that question is so important: if you are nodding for the following reasons that is probably fine:
- To communicate that you are listening
- To communicate that you understand
- To encourage the other person to keep talking
Turn the volume down
However, a nod can be less helpful, in fact it can be quite damaging, when the reason for you nodding in a conversation is for one or both of these reasons:
- To communicate that you agree with the idea just generated particularly because it matches your thoughts
- To communicate that you have heard enough, you want the client to shut up and allow you the airtime to ask them the great question that you have already formulated in your head.
Once you become aware of the reasons that you are affirming the conversation of your client, you will be able to check that it is for the right reasons not either to hurry your client or to wrestle the ownership back from them. Just be aware of the “volume of the nod” and note that smaller, quieter, less frequent nodding is usually a brilliant help to your client, whilst loud, brash nodding rarely is.
Glenn Wallis is an experienced Executive Coach and Coach Developer who will help you improve your own results and those of your organisation. When you are ready to raise your performance to the next level, find out more here.