In Trainer Insights

Body Language and Confidence

I had horrible body language when I was a kid. Every day I hear, “Stop slouching!” from my parents and teachers. The truth is, when I was in school I was almost always withdrawn into myself. I didn’t feel comfortable in the classroom, and I made an easy target for bullying.

Thankfully, I grew past those experiences. I took a martial arts class. I learned how to lead in some circles. And I tended to be more sociable in high school. I still struggled with confidence, and I probably slouched all the way through graduation.

The Power of Body Language

Before we look at the impact body language can have on coaching, watch this video from professor Amy Cuddy.

You can find more of professor Cuddy’s work in her book, Presence.

Body Language and Coaching

We coach trainers live for those moments where we help a student coach feel a bit uncomfortable. We encourage guided peer coaching, student coaches to lead a session demo, and in-depth reviews of recorded sessions with the trainer. All of these periods of discomfort lead to more awareness, learning and confidence.

As a trainer, I notice how my student coaches tend to withdraw into themselves when they are unsure how to move a conversation forward. As professor Amy Cuddy’s talk highlights, body language and confidence feed off one another. This is particularly true in a session. The more aware we are of our physical coaching presence, the more confidence we can offer our clients. When we have a healthy level of confidence, we offer a stronger sense of safety to our clients leading the client to become more open.

Here are some exercises you can use to develop your healthy coaching presence:

  • Review a video-recorded session. If you do not already record sessions from time to time, begin this practice on at least a monthly basis with your client’s permission. Consider how your body language is tied to your confidence. Notice any changes in your body language when you seem stuck to find a question.
  • On your next coaching session, consider your physical presence. What impact does your physical presence have on your conversation with your client?
  • Spend a private two minutes in a “power pose” before starting a session with a new or higher level client.
  • Take note of your client’s body language. Consider adjusting your own in order to moderately align with their.
  • If your client is in a very powerless position, consider life coaching around their body language.

Wrap-up Question

What impact would more powerful body language have on your coaching?

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