Body Language in Coaching: A Tool for Effective Communication by Dr. Monika Schloder (2010)


Thank you. Okay… thank you. For those who are interested a lot of the material are from some references if you would to like to come up after my presentation and get it one is called, by Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Training; and Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. So you know in academics you have to reproduce every year something else so you just change the paddle I guess and I’m saying that fictitiously. Another one is by Kouzes and Posner: The Leadership Challenge. And a lot of the material comes out of there. I don’t know if you’re aware of the Canadian Coaching Certification Program and it’s mandatory in Canada and I train coaches in several big modules and one of them is effective coaching and leadership so why am I attacking myself with this particular issue. I started this a long time ago and then I’m a people watcher, one of those that sits there and just watches as the people go by and starts to kind of form impressions and so my real hobby also was then turning into research, looking at coaching behavior from different sports not just swimming, hockey, track and field, volleyball and also to compare the coaching effectiveness, the feedback and the responses and the gestures and the language between females and males. So that’s how it all got started. Now let’s start with the presentation, people, the way you walk in a room, the way you sit, there you go. That’s why I’m down here not up there, I do with my students until it drives them nuts, is the first impression and the first impression really lasts so you have to keep that in mind. If you’re going for a job interview and did you know and I didn’t know that, that some major businesses actually have you park your car in a certain parking lot the way they could observe getting out of the car and watch you how you’re walking and how you behave. That’s their first impression; it just blew me away when I heard about that.

We always talk about coaching as a science but it’s also an art and then people say, “What do you mean by art? I’m not an artist.” Yes you are and in our case it’s the art of communication and what we have has coaches is not only authority and power which is positive but also can potentially be misused, but it is an exercise and trust between what we say and how we say it. To basically earn the respect of our athletes, that’s what it’s all about. So now how do experts define body language? They say it’s an outward reflection of how you inwardly feel and you have gestures; hands in the pocket, jingle with the pennies, foot up on the standing block, whoop with the whistle, just think about that. Put yourself at a 5:30 morning practice, your swimmers come in, they just swallowed down their last bit of food maybe a banana or some fruit bar, the hair is all standing up and you’re there with your big cup of java; what are you sending? Or are you there at the door and go, “Hi! How are you this morning? Good to see you!” It sets the environment; it sets the positive learning environment, training environment, teaching environment. So gestures and postures and the facial expressions, really manifests themselves in all sorts of physical, mental and emotional states so in other words I can follow [Indiscernible] [0:04:18] you have very often and I don’t want to be anti this or anti that but girls at a certain age 13, 14, that’s an emotional rollercoaster you look at them and you say, “You’re looking good,” I don’t think I believe you and then you say, “That’s true,” and then you say, “This was really good, I don’t think so,” it’s just this whole age where they’re trying to find identity and whatever you say whether it’s good or bad, they’re always up like this and there’s a lot of gestures that go into that where you can sort of identify if you really want to be good at communication skills just how can you read that person? What level are they on today? Because you never know.

Okay. This whole section here of our topic is about non-verbal and people say well we talk, yeah we do. But it is our non-verbal gestures, facial expressions whatever we put with it that is going to affect our athletes, so it involves stylized gestures like I just said you can have your hands on your pocket, you can fold, you can go and this could be freezing but I’m just saying, token if I don’t do this and I lean back, I don’t really agree with you. I can do my hair, I can scratch, I can put any kind of gesture in there as we will see and they’re endless. I didn’t know so much existed in one list till I started to do an in depth research but there accuse to you if you are really into this. Now, men maybe, let’s put it this way, can you read your wife?

[audience member]: Excuse me?

[MS]: Can you read your wife on a daily basis?

[audience member]: Well it’s hard.

[MS]: It’s hard, give me a five! It’s hard, it is. Now I say to my head coach and I had coached in Canada with the National coach at the university. I said, “You can’t read your wife how can you read 37 females? He says, “Well that’s your job,” and he had a point, you know why? Because if you’re a female swimmer and you’re a 15, 16 year old and you’re getting into this kind of stage where you want to try who you really are. One of the person is not just your dad but your coach, your male coach that you can try things on. Well, they can’t try that with me because I’ve been there done that. So I’m quite aware of what female swimmers can do to a coach in terms of body language. Now look at this, this how I’ll put his face, [Indiscernible] [0:07:12] if you see somebody like this, I’m telling you his is this cheek so up, clustered up, okay a picture worth a thousand words and consider yourself a picture. You’re always on the show, now we’ve sent and we receive non-verbal signals and rightly or wrongly we tend to interpret them and there is where the caution later on comes in. Now look at this, like that, the other one, “Oh God!” alright and then you and then other one with the big eyes and I just love the picture up there, he’s there, he’s violating actually, everything he’s supposed to be doing as a coach to communicate effectively and this guy goes, “You can just sit, anyone here and out the other, you can hear it, yeah just keep it going, I really don’t care,” I saw that, I took that picture and I’m going and the coach didn’t get it, he was not clued in not as hockey but this happens in many other sports. So question you have to ask you how good are you in maintaining your composure, your enthusiasm, “give me a five,” yes, okay no matter what? Here comes a personal story, several years ago when my dad died in Germany, I ask for leave to go attend his funeral and where I was teaching I was told no because they didn’t have replacements for me. So people the hardest and most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do is stand in front of a class of 250 students who are used to me just doing my stuff right and keep focused, keep my whole composure up at the same time my dad was being put into the grave. Well I went after the class up into my room and I fell apart and [Indiscernible] [0:09:30] and cried but I had to put it together, people said, “how in the heck did you do that?” Professionalism and always looking forward saying that no matter what, you have to be the best you can be.

How effective is your communication? What kind of language do you use? “You know.” How well do you articulate? There are also things that now these days even college students have problems with writing essays and articulating and how good are you in listening? As we will go on, we will see that listening is 50% of what you need to improve on according to research. Okay, how good are you reading body signals? Well, I just asked somebody can you read it, your wife, you’re just sitting across the kitchen table and she’s trying to talk to you and say, “Honey? Hey, honey?” and you’re reading the paper sipping your coffee, “Hey, what?” here we go, well not as extreme when you coach but you can push out certain waves that the athletes pick up and as we will see athletes are very good in taking you apart. Okay, body language—BL stands for body language—must be congruent in other words if I’m saying, “That is good! Yes!” and you know the reason it’s good, you did exactly what we planned on that butterfly turn. Also somebody saying, “Hey, high five! Good job!” I hear that all the time in swim mates and I say, “Good job what? Define it! Give me something to work with, good job!” I don’t even use it because it is so common and so misused. Non-verbal signals have five times more the impact than your words, now think about that and especially then if they’re not congruent. Important here as we said in the first slide, you need to send off signals that the athletes can trust she means it, he means it and I will tell a little story later about a six year old swimmer that had me in stitches afterwards but not during training. So that means words and gestures in order to be convincing to get your whole thing across whatever it is you got to be in sync. If not, athletes will pick up only the non-verbal, not what you say, now think about that and there is your key if you want to improve your communication skills.

According to research, 60-80% of an athlete’s opinion is formed in less than four minutes and that means you come in and they can just look at you and they decide what mood is he/she in today and that means when we say approachable athletes think about talk to, friendly, amicable, sociable or open or if it’s unapproachable, you’re perceive this distant, unfriendly, grumpy, aloof, hard to talk to, can’t even talk to him; go to the female assistant coach, that’s where the terror is, okay? I don’t want to deal with it or standoffish. You laugh but you know in many cases that’s true and I will talk about that a little bit later what the difference is between male and females according to statistics. With our body language up to 50, 65% of human communication is lost or at least unreadable so keep that in mind what do you want to say, how do you want to say it? Where do you want to position yourself? What gestures you want to do? And you say, “Well I don’t have to time, I’m so bloody busy with coaching.” Well it is part of coaching because you’re going to be so much more effective with your athletes and what kind of subconscious gestures with your hands, whatever, jingle or this way or that way or tapping you foot impatiently. There’s a whole bunch of body languages that you can get into that actually identify lack of communication or not as good communication because importantly amongst all thing is that we get across the true meaning of what we’re wanting to say, what we want them to hear, what we want them to interpret and to make our trust relationship and interaction coach-athletes so much better.

Okay, here is the key, you can’t just look for a single thing, you have to look for clusters that tend to come in groups so in other words hand and eyes and head and position could be linked together to kind of figure out where is this person at right now in the communication process? So that means you also have to understand the emotional condition the athlete is in. Now while that may display a certain emotion what it doesn’t tell is what is the true underlying cause of that emotion? Okay. So for example, you’re with me on the swim team and I date you, got it? You’re kind of cute so I picked you. So now if I looked at him I know I would probably have to be very careful because I did this on purpose because he changed his skin color. Okay so hopefully he’s not too embarrassed but you and I are dating and we just had a big major fight and so I’m all upset and the coach doesn’t know. All the coach knows I’m upset but beyond the underlying cause is right there but that won’t be a hang out sign and say, “He’s to blame,” no so this is why you have to be extremely careful when you look at emotion and really just kind of zero in what eases and also what are the others doing and what’s going on and that means you got to be on top of what’s going on, on your team. And if you’re a male coach, it’s pretty difficult to sneak into the girls’ lockerroom because that is gossip city, okay? It’s like the teaching lounge in junior high school where you get all the digs; it’s all there. So once again the underlying reason may not be what you think it is. So it is easy to make an assumption and this is where you have to be careful on a single gesture because you have to look for clusters, groups; so once again, clusters of behavior. If you’re not sure the first time, kind of observe, go home and write it down and then try something again and see if the same clusters appear and then you may be able to pull it together rather than jumping to conclusions, very important here.

Now these clusters and signals usually happen at the same time so you have to be extremely careful that you look for the same time that means, what do they say? I use I also coach gymnastics, the experienced coach has a good eye. A good eye if you’re on this side of the pool and you’re looking into number four lane and you can see what’s going on and that means you’re walking up and down and basically I say you got to swim and you got to walk as much as the swimmers swim to see everything to be on top and one of my six year olds says, “She got eyes in the back of her head. She sees everything, you can’t mess around,” well that’s true because you just you learn how to observe and probably gymnastics is a very good tool to train your eyes because a lot of the movements also fast like in walking for example you have to pick it. Now gestures and clusters can change so for example pleasure, displeasure and disgusting, it’s disgusting, now you see that’s disgusting, okay here my hip goes and my shoulders go and, “Oh, that’s disgusting,” I like the pants on your personality but you got to know your athletes; how do they display this kind of feelings, what’s their common nature, happiness or sadness, comfort or discomfort, interest or disinterest, doubting you, what? What are you trying to say? Really? I don’t know. I don’t think he’s really into it. Okay, confusion, “I don’t get it! What coach? Can you repeat that one more time I don’t get it?” Were you focused? “yeah” Well you were looking over there,” “Really?” “Yeah,” okay so there you go personal needs. I’m swimming and I’m at the edge and so somebody. “What? You got to go to the bathroom? No.” Little kids I swear I want to go to the bathroom, “you got five, okay.”

Here you’ve got to interpret what is it that it’s happening. Look at the face, look at the visible gestures and sometimes not so visible subconscious actions and that is like breathing fit. You know these hof’s puffs and gasps; sulking, I hear you. Okay all these non-clusters is she really sulking, is she putting it on to get your sympathy? Is she playing you or is she truly sad? Alright. Changes of voice and skin tone alright. I guess maybe if coaches that are in swimming are a little bit better because even the female coaches have to raise across 6 lanes, 8 lanes, ‘hey move back’ okay and people say, “gosh you got a loud voice.” Yeah because recreation swimmers is going and the slides are going and that little deep [Indiscernible] [0:21:29] pool and this is going and the radio is going and you got to get across. So our voices are usually pretty strong and low. But females and especially teenagers they start to pitch it [Indiscernible] [0:21:45] and it’s one of those voices where you just like when you have your figure nails and you go down or a lemon and squished down and okay. This is where the voice change comes in and you have to know is this person changing to get attention changing for something else, is it because she is actually wanted to get his attention over there because she wants to date him or yeah you never know. And of course watch the skin tone and usually everybody not just people that get embarrassed. Everybody has that particular symptom and that’s used by the FBI actually and some of the intelligence organization to detect if you are telling the truth besides the lying test et cetera.

Typically we have three types of behavior that come in clusters and one of them is touch, okay. So, “hey that was pretty good I like that what you just did,” okay. The other one is body movement and the third one is body position how we position ourselves. Touch is usually a more intimate one but a caution and this has to be raised because it is an issue; male coaches be careful where you touch, careful of the way you hug because a lot of crazy teenager can misinterpret those things, okay? But if you already know from body language and reading signals as we will later on see you can be ready for that and you may not just want to hug, you may just say that was super give me a high five do this and do that, okay. It usually can imply friendship on the other hand if may I, grab there and put a little challenge into it, okay. I have intimidation and if I move in as we will see a little bit later and get into her personal space I’m really intimidating not only because I’m also higher up, okay. So these all comes into play. Used to get somebody’s attention okay this is something that teenage girls at times like to do, maybe it’s because they want to be noticed, maybe it’s lack of self esteem, maybe it’s many things maybe because they are really in a need of a good hug but they want to call to your attention so you have to be very careful how do you interpret that. It expresses usually also sympathy of intimacy so make sure if you wanted to say that was good, that bad at what it is and it’s not interpreted on the other side as a coach that is being too intimate.

Canez communication is the way we stand or sit, the gestures we use and of course one of the most famous and may I put my foot up there is when you standing on the starting block with the foot up hands in the pocket and you are just watching or you have both hands in the pocket or you just stand there like this watch what’s going on. It just kind of rock and then kind okay now they are going through their warm ups swim. All these are passive coaching signals they are not active ones because if you are not active it’s pretty difficult to motivate your athletics. So once again the non verbal behavior that what we expose ourselves to be with actions is interpreted by those athletes and let me tell you they communicate very quickly. Proximal communication; that means the way we position ourselves when we want to get something across and as we later see there is also a barrier for example if we have a table or a chair between us that removes us, okay. And if you really want to communicate well you have to be in but not too close in so you violate the personal space. If you want to see how and I played that game yesterday and today in the elevator. If you really want to see just how protective people are, just go in there last and say, “hi how is everybody doing?” and they’ll go, “what a crazy lady, oh my God,” move back and they are all glued to the back and then I say, “so where are you from? Why.

I would just like to know, I’m German. Be very friendly. I’m from Bayern Munich City, October fest” and all that stuff. And they go, “well this is a real nut, okay. So degree of personal space denotes the trust we have in others so if I want to seat down with you and we have an issue and then I have a lot of distance, you are not going to see that I’m into you. But if I’m just right and I have to figure out what is right then you are going to say, “oh she is interesting” and then if I lean even forward I go, “yeah tell me all about it.” That becomes very important then and the person goes oh you know yeah I think she understands. Okay the more space we take up the more comfortable we feel, well I like to go in the elevator like I said and I don’t care. I just take up space and then people kind of go back like I just said. Play that game it’s funny you just really get hilarious reactions. Proximal; that means direction in relationship to someone face to face or actually at an angle, yeah rather than straight on, okay because straight on I can also stare you down but if I go like this yeah that makes sense yeah okay. My tilt makes me much more open, much more friendly, alright. This is critical for the coach athlete interaction; consider yourself as a true agent of change, if you want to change behavior which is learning, okay this is where you come in and don’t just see yourself as a swim coach. You are also an educator, you might not be a teacher but you are an educator because we are trying to teach them more than just swimming.

Life time skills self esteem, confidence; all these are part of if you are really interested in promoting the entire or as someone says in philosophy holistic person. Athletes are very often aware that you are not aware of the signals that you send out and so they talk about it they talk about it in the locker rooms, they talk about in other discussion, maybe at socials and they watch you what is she is doing? Okay. So you are a picture whether you like it or not. So this you have to remember you are on display, not just here you are but you actually being observed and you will also always have that one athlete that will just push it to the limits to see just how you are going to react and then I say, “don’t try it, been there, done that before. I got you” okay, coach yeah, okay. During and after training, during and after competition especially if you are doing evaluation process at that time how you are going about and the words that you choose; how positive, how negative you are, what body actions go with it. I had one incidence where I watched a coach at a swim meet; the coach did not pay attention at all to the race. The rest of the swimmers were watching him because the word had gotten around that he was always saying “good job”, alright and so they were watching and they were going, “he is in trouble,” the swimmer comes out goes by gets the feed back. And I’m sitting there and I’m going I can’t believe it this guy is actually giving a feed back he didn’t even see her swim. Well the swimmer walked away and immediately the peers were right in it, explained he didn’t watch she thought yeah that’s what I thought just the way he reacted, okay didn’t believe the word good job. I always say see yourself as a book that interest the people that means your athletes they read you and they know you quite well. So you say I don’t want to be a picture, I don’t want to be a role model, I don’t want to be that; well Charles Barkley said that I don’t want to be a role model, whether you are whether you like it or not because you were out there, okay.

Now the influence of body language; this is a good one. The world’s greatest leaders throughout history have always had one skill and I want to tell you a little story about that. I read up on it of course I grew up in post war Germany and we had to study World War II and Hitler and that whole history. That one was fascinating about the man that turned lunatic right was that the all communication and through what he had, that he could mesmerize an entire nation into disaster. So when I was teaching international perspective of sports, I felt I’m going to play this today because the topic was in 1936 Nazi Olympics. And so I run through I had the matches, my mum was a participant in that so I had a whole bunch of different things that probably would be artifacts now and they were songs that people have to sing and all sorts of things. And so the class was pretty much into it right and then I showed my mum’s certificate that she was true Aryan which had to be proven by your maternal, not paternal; maternal side with a swastika and prove on it and all that had that all blown up in shape [Indiscernible] [0:33:06] so I had myself pretty much set up. So then I started in with just lecturing like [Indiscernible] [0:33:13] and they were all writing. Usually my front row they are always Asian students; I don’t know why but they are always on the front row a lot. They are right in your face; they wanted to just get down everything right. So as I was passing by, there is one guy sort of looked at me like “how you doing?” I could just tell, “I don’t know what she is up to.” And so I just kind of went like this winked at him and he went, “okay she winked at me, what’s that mean?” So I just carried on and the class just two minutes before the class was over and I said, “okay everybody I had one dubious person sitting in the rest row but the rest of you all bought it. Take those notes and rip them apart I just gave you a lesson in indoctrination and that’s because of the oral skills and the whole vermin things and expressions and yeah [Indiscernible] [0:34:20] and that would so [Indiscernible] [0:34:22] as they say in German right.”

And so they were so convinced with what I was talking about, was true the message and they went oh my gosh and then I said “yeah and it can happen in 2009 not just 1940 something or 1936.” Okay so now you need to also display those kind of skills, not Hitler skills but good oral skills. How many of you feel comfortable of standing in front your parent group and talk to your parents stand up straight and you have it done you don’t need those little pieces of paper. How many of you can be at a banquet and just rock it off with a speech and you just have the whole audience mesmerized? You have it.

[audience member]: Absolutely, I don’t know about the mesmerize part.

[ME]: Mesmerize part, okay. Alright so [phrase not in English]. Okay I just got back from Finland working with the junior national team and the head coach was at the European Championships in Budapest so I had his group. Now if you look at the kids that’s mesmerized they are all there wonderful [Indiscernible] [0:36:00] the eye contact is there wow! Now if you look across okay. And he did that for the whole 10 days I think he had that place secured, he just rocked the little bit and then he was like this and then he went like this and then he scratched his head and he was in the middle rocking like that. Okay that was the body language and I thought interesting, now the paper that did this half spread and in the Sunday paper in Turku Finland, two reporters followed me around and you know what the paper was all about not just about my qualifications, but the way I was coaching. The energy they said was tremendous and so it just pulled in the athletes; right and that’s what they couldn’t understand and said, “do you ever get tired?” I said, “yeah when I’m out here I’m kind of haa!” because if you really get into it it’s physically demanding to keep that up, alright. So the active versus the passive body language really make the difference here. Okay, now here we have our handicaps. Most of us are reflection of our parents and our up bringing. What did dad tell you? If you want to be a real man you don’t? Cry, crying is for what? Girls, girls cry like men don’t do true men don’t show emotions etcetera right. And if you are really energetic, active kind of a female then you’re usually a tomboy right. So we are having to overcome some of these barriers.

Now according to research males and females have pretty much the same gestures though there are differences but what the female is doing, they’re more expressive and they use it more. Maybe according to sociologists because we are to nurturing cry kind of cry on your shoulder because when you got hurt where did you go? To dad? No, where did you go?

[audience member]: Mom.

[MS]: Mom right. And mom said, “Oh! here we go, it’s alright come here” and then you just played that even more yeah and you did it’s okay honey your okay we’ll fix it right, yeah. Alright so we are the nurture; so that’s settled that we play but that doesn’t mean that males can’t do it right and we have more dads that are taking paternity leaves, some getting into raising children so maybe in the future it will be that would change that scenario. This research by Albert Mehrabian in the 70’s become a big project and actually dictates just about every research that we do in body language, because what he said; words that we speak and here you get these facts only seven percent of the overall message is sent, okay. 38 percent is attributed to voice tone or inflection of the voice, just how you use it and the voice and the tone then you put with it and 55 percent to body language. That’s tremendous now if you add up the 38 and then 55 you come up with 93. 93 percent to everything else expect the seven percent that is words and verbal use, okay. So that’s tremendous so that is where we have to look and see how can we potentially improve upon that and when I was going through my PHD at Arizona State and taking teaching and coaching pedagogy which means improving in instructions. We have to video tape ourselves to learn how to stand up straight and learn how to convince ourselves. So then we were sent out to schools and I was in… I call it the Junior High School Jungle. That’s the group that you know animal instinct they’re going to really go and get that nail their teacher yeah.

Okay so you are a student teacher coming in and whoopee, we are going to have some fun, right. So I was fine and then I just noted looking around, why is everybody doing this? Then when I ask a question the person would go… you go gee what’s wrong with me? Okay everything is sipped up, everything is closed I’m not showing any body part so what is it. It happened to be that one of them was a swimmer from another club so I felt I have to play a little politics and then [Indiscernible] [0:41:15] Coach Schloder, well you have this habit and I go like what and she shows me and I’m going, “I do?, she goes yeah. So I went home put the video on and I did my thing and I’m going yep I’m doing it. So I had to work from one minute to five minute, to 10 minutes, to 15 minutes, to 20 minutes to get myself up without doing this kind of gestures because the kids were side track by those gestures okay and so they were making fun of me alright. Now whereas Mehrabian is the author and the guru on all that, there is this agreement some people say it’s 80 percent instead of 93, some say it’s 60 to 70, some say it could be 50 to 65 percent. To me it’s irrelevant really how high but anyway it is higher than the seven percent of verbal communication. So now then the way you say something and the eye contact that goes with it is 13 times more important than the message you are sending and you go “wow! I didn’t know that” and I didn’t know it was that high until I got into the research.

Now here is one that they use in some of those text books where they still go with Mehrabian on 93% and it just shows the split of what you can do in terms of voice and tone physiology which also includes skin and tone and etcetera; your postures and the words. Micro expression that was new to me as well and these are facial expression when people have some deep feelings inside and they don’t want to really let them come out so they suppress them. And so when they suppress them, you actually then start to show some emotions, when you do that; and so what happens and this look at the fast the quickness of the speed of that 125 of a second that shows up. So if you happen to have your head down and scratching your head while the person is communicating, you totally miss that signal. So that means you’ve got to keep your eyes on the person you are talking to or the group that you are talking to, alright. Hand gestures and postures once again, send of many secrets but you have to be sure that you cluster them and put them together in the right perspective. Okay so how would you read it effectively, partial expressions look for repetitive gestures or usually somebody walks, talks; that drives you up the wall because they are going back and forth like a dog or a tiger in a cage right and they say “yeah.” They are not listening; they are not paying attention to you. On position okay I’ve already said if you go like this alright you might be just talking to a swimmer in a wet suite and they are cold and chilly or if you lean back you go like this and that’s “I don’t believe what you are saying and I don’t buy it. I really don’t buy it.”

And so there comes another signal that goes along with that standing posture and extended eye contact is important but as we will see when we look at eyes. Eyes; the mirror of the soul basically have so many signals and when I did the research and went oh my gosh I got to go, really get it together here because you really got to be aware of all of that hand gestures at the side hand gestures here, hands on your pockets or playing with your belt all these are destructing signals that the athletes will see you are in on. So we saw on the hockey player this blank expression and out it’s just like its dead that whole face is motionless, expressionless. Touching the face during conversation okay is also a body posturing and some people do that if they really aren’t very comfortable in front of a crowd or talking to a person singular maybe they are intimidated. Head tilts; we talked about that you can tilt your head down you can tilt your head back, you can look up to the sealing and go to the other side, okay you can go well I’m kind of I need to stretch my neck you know all those different things come into play. And coaches do that sometimes because you had a long day and you are kind of tired and you are tensed up and so you just go like this, but you see the athlete will read that okay, that’s a sign of disinterest then. Tension realizing face in squat muscles if you really see some people the vein start to come up the face, mouth… you have all these little things there and some people grind their teeth but you can’t see a play and are going “wow we are rising here okay.” Walking up behind a person don’t you just hate that, okay this is really a very intimidating thing because if you face on this is fine and if you move in but becoming behind that gets us in a very defensive position and so we are just, “what?” because wow that person came up behind what is he and she up to.

Signals of the eyes; here we come people it is crucial absolutely crucial the look at the eye contact. They are called the most powerful tools that we have, very expressive and sends many queues and many signals and the eyes can actually detect little changes in your postures if you are very observant; here comes my other story. While I was going to school in Arizona State I was also coaching an Age group team and I had eight and under, six and under and what have you. So I think it was after a holiday or something the focus and attention was whoa! you know like before Halloween when they are on a sugar high or something. And so the six and unders are down so standing up is intimidating, kneeling down is intimidating, squatting down is intimidating. So what the coach will do she was flat on her stomach right and you are going to play the part now is that okay? Okay your name is Mary Beth yeah, that was her name so Mary Beth was not paying attention I’m on my… you know like this on deck and I’m looking her in the eye and she is slowly disappears on the water she is still on the water level and you hear this blowing the bubbles and her eyes get big and I said, “Mary Beth look at me. I am do you see those eyes? I’m slowly getting annoyed, you are not paying attention.”

[audience member]: Yes I do.

[MS]: “Well you think you do but I have to tell you everything twice and now three times so what’s that tell you? Did you pay attention?” Maybe yeah you play your role good and then so then I said, “look at my eyes,” so she says to me you are not mad, and I said “I’m not?” and inside I’m going “holly molly what is she coming up with?” So she says “no because when you really mad coach Monica your eyes get dark and right now they are sparkling.” So this story gets better, comes my son whose very analytical with a degree in Mathematics and physics so I said ”Eric” and he was helping me to assist with some of the smaller ones. I said I have this thing with Mary Beth and he said “what happened?”, and I said well I was standing on my [indiscernible][0:50:17] and I was talking to her and I had her look in my eyes and I was telling her, I was getting annoyed. And he said “and she probably said you’re not mad” and I said “and you would say that because?” he says “mom, over your head follow the ears because if you are really mad I always look at the color of your eyes and if their not dark you’re not mad.” And am going holy shmolly all these years he’s played me”, all these years and of course Mary Beth was right because I was laughing inside because just the way she looked at me you know? Those big brown eyes and bubbling. Yes, so signals of the eyes; eye contact or lack of eye contact, consistent eye contact, now this is where you have to be careful, I also coach and train Aboriginal people in Canada and out of respect they lower their eyes.

So I can never say look me in the eye you have to know the culture, so you have to be very careful about that. Averted gaze and there’re variations you can choose and then you have to know; how is your swimmer and what kind of a learner is he is? Is he a visual learner that looks up is he an auditory learner that have different behaviors so you kind of need to know how do they learn and you have get to know your athletes to do that. Glistening that’s what mine were, glistening not glaring alright? Blinking all sorts of blinking variations and different directions and it’s really amazing it could be a science of blinking here.

[audience member]: Question. What do you recommend when you are coaching under the sun and you’re wearing sunglasses?

[MS]: This is a very good question because athletes like to see your eyes. So I got to a big kind of a Mexican straw hat or whatever right to protect it and I got a way from sunglasses. I also got glasses with a glare proof so that they basically protect me from the glare of the water because athletes need to see that. Its really a very uncomfortable feeling so one swimmer told me when they can’t see the eyes. You see because they read it so that’s something you need to maybe solve with a different way. Three states of looking, now did you know that I am looking at your eye and the other eye and then your forehead. This is a position of power, if I look at your eye and your eye and down on to your nose we’re level in position. However if I look at your eye and your eye and your mouth; watch it coaches-male coaches that’s a flirt. That is a flirt okay. So now you have to go home and say “look at me, I want to know if you’re up with there or flirting with me” alright so there you go. Unfocussed eyes you know those are the kids sometimes with attention span problems that just kind of wonder all over the place and so you have to figure out how do you get somebody like this focused. Well if you were in my Ballet section yesterday you know that centering and focusing and paying attention is a big benefit in ballet training. Lowering the eyes we talked about that, well sometimes people lower their eyes because their ashamed or they have some insecure feelings so you need to differentiate what you’re dealing with here.

Winking and flirting; okay. Coaches do that “hey, good, whatever “can be misinterpreted so you have to be extremely careful because you are a picture in a book people try to read you and you don’t want to send out the wrong signals alright? Narrowing the eyes and then you see also the puffing up and also the nose starts to kind of clutter up there; that could be a sign of pain or discomfort. So if somebody says “ooh that hurts, coach that really hurts” is it uncomfortable? Is it uncomfortable because we’re pushing it and it’s difficult to achieve or are you really hurting and I have to call the ambulance alright? And you can tell that from the facial expression but you have to practice this. Did you know not only cats but also we change our pupil size okay, so eye angle changes all these have major impacts on your body language. Rubbing the eyes, resting the chin you know I can even rest it on the table or on the chair or if I swing my leg over a chair how I point my knees in what direction basically also indicates my interest or lack of interest. That’s an interesting one, okay. Touching the lips right, nose edges, head scratches and then there’s of course the flirty okay, all of these you can interpret. Finger locking and cracking some people have that habit, very annoying and the athlete get attracted to that because the thought is, “okay when is the next time he’s going to crack it? one 1000, two 1000 crack! Okay that was all one 1000 two 1000 ooh, one 1000 two 1000 crack it.”

So why is that, because our thoughts are five times faster as we will see than our words so we jump and that’s where often we get into trouble because we don’t finish our sentences and then we jump ahead because we are already thinking about the next step which is all evident in your body language. We have an intimate distance like I may show okay close in, we have a personal distance which is usually about an arm length away and then we have a social distance which could be mingling but it could be if you’re not familiar it could be going in and going out. So we have a public distance which would be me being up there with the public but I like to be social distance in other words, interact because I’m very comfortable with that and I’ve taught for many years that way and so that’s my style and I’m not afraid to do that. Yes we are aha! Here we go! Alright so now I’m going to read you out of my research on basically special interest indicators, exaggerated body gestures and body movement, okay. Pulling up your… okay I have to do this now, you know how your female swimmers pull or roll up those things all the way and then it comes up in the crack in the back right? This is to draw attention from boys also from coaches because you go “hmm nice figure, hmm alright not too bad”. Alright you may think it and you just not say anything but your body language, she catches and go “huh” echoing or mirroring the speaker so in other words when you interact females are very good in mirroring what you’re saying. If you’re going this way with your face she goes this way if she goes that way you go that way. So that’s a very good play on play as I call it.

Room encompassing glances; so you just kind of glance around and glance around and then you zero in on the coach and then glance and glance and then zero in on the coach. Leg crossing, okay now in body language par say if you cross your legs and I always laugh when they have them on some of these night shows actually you’re never supposed to cross your legs even when your sitting, Queen Elizabeth does that quite well. Put the knees nicely together and you sit parallel with your feet right? So this actually not only means that you have to go to the bathroom in cases it also means defensive body action. So but the girls do it that put if you ever saw a picture of Paris Hilton and you guys maybe look at some of their trash magazine they always have to have one foot in front of this shoulder here because that’s playful you see that’s sexy and female swimmers have good bodies so they’ll just do it. Here Tossy, ah! Yes. And playing with the hair and filling with the earrings, head talking, and then pelvic rotation shifting. You get it, you get it? Okay. Showing your wrist, showing your finger nails which may be highly painted, you know, and whatever different black color or purple, adjusting your clothes, laughing and smiling, yeah “ yeah really?” even if there is nothing to smile, they just go, “oh! yeah”. Eye contact, touching, okay, playfulness and proximity, they move in. So, why is this important male coaches? Because we have incidences where potentially your career could be destroyed because somebody, misinterprets signals that you’re sending out, or you’re not aware of it. Okay. So, we can also look at the emotions that are being displayed. We can determine whether there is boredom, whether there is excitement, frustration, anger, nervousness.

You’ve ever seen that, swimmer sit down and go, “aha!” nervousness okay, or they play with the earrings too sometimes and the pull on the ears; nervousness. Okay. Tension re-assurance, but what you want to do is you want to open up a conversation to build rapport. And that means a total open environment very comfortable and non-threatening. So, guidelines; females are more perceptive than men, and that’s just something that we are. That’s just something natural to us. So, that probably mean, that doesn’t mean that a female couldn’t be, but it’s more natural, so that means the males may have to work a little bit more on it. But I want you to remember, that each movement that you put to your words is a key to how you communicate and how you feel. Very important, and understand the context of the emotion. Where is it happening, why is it happening, what happened before, what happened maybe yesterday, what happened when they were coming in? You need to be aware of that. And read the body language and gestures and clusters, not isolate it. Look for congruency in other words the words, and the behavior matches. Be aware of potential social communication barriers such as gender, age, status and cultural norms; that means different ethnic cultures. Have different ways of expressing body language. So you need to be very much aware of that. That includes if you have for example not only, Indian native or native population, but also some of the Asian countries also have typical behavior that you need to study.

Alright, and so these cultures also express it differently and they also use a little bit different body language and wording, to try to communicate what their real feelings are. If you ever have to teach Special Olympics and you have artistic children, and they can’t swim, quite well so, then you have to be very, very aware, of how they react to body language because they are totally different. So, it’s a good case scenario where you need to get some extra education behind you. So what we want to do is create an environment that is attractive, not resentment or basically being embarrassed. We call it an open body language, okay. That means, what you see is what you get, we are very into you, we pay attention to you, and we display that. And once again in that particular scenario, it is your expression. It is your creating trust for the athletes. Here is what research says about you and it doesn’t speak very well for us because we are educators. Coaches need to listen 50 percent more in their interactions and somebody fictitiously said, God gave us one mouth and two years for a reason. Okay, and that means listen more. And that takes, that takes patience because if you’re the person that thinks ahead and you like to jump into conversation, that is one way you can sabotage it. Now, Covey and Cossack have identified listening as a fundamental leadership skill. So that means, you hear the words, you focus on the message, you understand and interpret the message under the right circumstances with the cluster of behavior, you analyze and evaluate the message, and you respond to the message. And that would mean, that I would say, “let me repeat this,” or you just said, and correct me if I don’t get it right. And you as an athlete say, “yeah, coach that’s what I said” or you say “no, coach”, and I said, “Uh! Where did I miss it? Repeat it back to me.” That opens up the communication, makes the athlete feel non-threaten and really makes the athlete feel comfortable. And you’ve got to remember the message.

There’s five levels of listening according to Covey. Ignoring: that just means not paying attention at all. Pretending: to hear but you’re really somewhere else. Listening selectively, you only pick up what you want to hear, or your attentive listening which is really why you lean in and you say “aha! good, point, that’s very good.” You don’t bring in your own points, just listen. And it’s an art. Okay, because you want to go, “I want to say something” you know, try it out on your wife at home or husband at home and see what kind of results. It’s a good way of learning. I have one that always jumps in and go, “would you please let me finish, you’re not listening”, “Yes I am listening”, this is what you said then he gets half of it okay. So, I know and listening with empathy is also showing that you understand, your with them, your supportive and you go, “oh, just tell me all about it, so what’s your feeling on that?” Your not suppose to be judgmental, and you need to be careful that you don’t show that. Because if you say, “Yeah I hear you” but you inside going “I wonder if she is right or wrong” They can read that, okay, so that’s very important; once again congruency. Sabotaging your intentions to understand, that means you display behavior, where you put yourself in front instead of letting the athlete tell you how he or she feels. So we have a few barriers and then we are almost done.

Environmental barriers make the whole environment pleasing; so that means, if it’s raining don’t sit outside because that interferes, if it’s cold, don’t be outside that interferes, if it’s hot, find another place. If, you’re sitting up on a bleacher and the athlete is on a lower bleacher, that’s authority. That doesn’t work, that’s environmental. Okay, physiological, once again, you could be cold, you could be hot, you could have stomach cramp, you maybe just have diarrhea, you may have, you know, it happens. Swimming, you need to go to the bathroom, you’re uncomfortable, those all interfere. And they’re psychological because, you’re threatening, you’re not letting the person express everything, because you don’t have the patience to listen. So, communication is most successful people, when it’s a two way process. When coaches listen to the pulse of their athletes, when coaches watch for non verbal cues, when coaches ask a lot of questions to gage the athlete in, the answer and I never say “why did you do that?” I always say, “And, you did that because?” and then one of the swimmers said “you always ask too many because questions” and I say “yeah, that’s right, you know. The reason, I want you to explain it, I want you to be analytical about it, I want you to say, the reason I’m doing this is because,” but if I said “why did you do that? Okay, it puts you on a defensive.”

So I got away even in student teaching, training with my students, always ask, “You did this because?” Not; never “why”. So, you have to check your language. Okay, when you posses and demonstrate good listening skills, 50 percent of coaching is listening. Practice, put to work your body language during practice, just get dare devil, go out there and say “Okay, today I’m going to try this” and then record on a reflection basis after practice what happened. You may want to tell your athletes, you may not want to tell your athletes the day later what you did. Video tape, your body language during a training session and analyze it. Thank you.

[Below is Dr. Schloder’s outline for this talk, provided as an addition to the transcription.]

Coaching at its core is an exercise in trust. Athletes depend on coaches for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and motivation. They rely on coaches to set the parameters by which athletes can strive for their best…
-John Dalla Costa
on the “value of trust” [Center for Ethical Orientation, Toronto, Canada]

Body Language is the outward reflection of a person’s emotional condition, defined as gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person manifests various physical, mental or emotional states and communicates non-verbally with others.

It is easy to make assumptions when we try to ‘read’ someone’s body language based on a single movement or gesture, and when verbal meanings are unclear. Shaking hands, shrugging, nodding, and shaking the head are more apparent behaviors nowadays than in earlier civilizations. Historically, body language is categorized as a form of para-language in which non-verbal communication elements hold and convey meaning during personal interaction. True meaning is more likely to come across in groups or clusters of behaviors. If the person is crossing arms in response to something that is/was said he/she might be just cold. On the other hand, a person crossing arms and looking away clearly communicates a stronger message of displeasure or disagreement. People typically exhibit three types of behavior: touch, body position, and body movement. These come in clusters of signals and/or postures; they happen at the same time and convey a person’s feelings very clearly. One has to be aware and sensitive, however, that people from other cultures are likely to use body language in different ways depending on their social norms.
• Touch or haptic communication [sense of touch] is the more intimate of the three, implying friendship or domination or both. It may be used to get someone’s attention, express sympathy or intimacy. The way we move within a group or stand-alone can convey the way we actually feel about ourselves.
• Kinesic communication is sent by the way we stand or sit, gestures we use, and our facial expressions [i.e., interpretation of body language such as facial expressions, gestures or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole]. Generally, the more space we take up, the more comfortable and assertive we feel. Facial expressions relay important information regarding our emotions, and/or ability to understand what’s going on around us, whereas gestures add emphasis to the words we say.
• Proxemic communication has to do with the way we position our body when interacting with others. There are degrees of personal space: Up close or an arm length’s away – indicates the trust we have in the other person or knowing the other person well. The direction we angle the body in relation to another: face-to-face or at an angle provides clues as to the level of intimacy or potential confrontation.

Multiple demands by athletes, parents, and club administrators create pressures, which can influence daily coaching behavior unless one has developed specific coping strategies. According to research, 60-80% of initial opinion is formed in less than four minutes as athletes make judgments whether or not the coach is approachable (interpreted as easy to talk to, friendly, amicable, sociable, open) or unapproachable for that day (perceived as distant, unfriendly, grumpy, aloof, cold, and/or standoffish). Such interpretation is critical for coach-athlete interaction since the “coach is the true agent of change” in any sport environment. Coaches are, however, not always aware of the immediate affect of their body language or emotional signals they send off. Yet, they are on ‘display, observed and studied’ by athletes before, during and after training; before competition or event; during competition or event; after competition or event; during de-briefing or evaluation; during non-training and/or social situations. “See yourself as a book that interested people read – whether or not you want them to”… And one should always remember, “Pictures are worth a thousand words!”

It is said, “the world’s greatest leaders throughout history have been good orators and use great body language to be effective in their delivery.” Similarly, coaches need to display effort, enthusiasm, and passion to motivate their athletes. Statistics imply that without body language up to 50-65% of human communication is lost or at least unreadable. Subconscious gestures with hands, facial expressions and body language can often communicate more clearly the ‘true’ meaning. Most of us are a reflection of our parents…they taught us that being emotional is acceptable or …“men don’t cry”… Males and females employ pretty much the same body language although women might use it more than men. However, cultural norms influence body language based on gender, age, status and specific culture, which can be misinterpreted or can elicit unexpected responses. Body language speaks volumes s a form of non-verbal communication involving stylized gestures, postures, body poses, eye movements, and physiological signs, which act as cues to others. Humans send and receive non-verbal signals all the time, and interpret such signals subconsciously. Body language and words have to be absolutely in sync because true meaning comes from gestures, not necessarily from words. Someone stated that, “words are the spaghetti sauce while spaghetti is the expression of the body.” Therefore, we need to give off images that make people trust us. Most of us may not know or realize the extent of signals we send. This means, ‘the way’ we say it – not just ‘what’ we say, is equally important. For example, we move the face, make visible gestures and exhibit subconscious actions like breathing shifts, sighs, huffs, heaves, puffs, gasps, sulking, changes of voice and skin tone. Body language can denote pleasure and displeasure, happiness and sadness, comfort and discomfort, interest and disinterest, confusion and personal needs. On the other hand, when the feelings of a person are revealed the underlying reason of such emotion is not. Interpretation and knowledge of the motive of that feeling is necessary for accurate detection.

Micro expressions are facial expressions when people try to repress or suppress an emotion. If they are unable to do so completely, emotions may flash onto the face very rapidly, sometimes for as short as 1/125th of a second. Micro expressions along with hand gestures and posture send off signals that register almost immediately, like a ‘silent orchestra with a long-lasting repercussion.’ Although many of us use these fleeting expressions, about 85% of people can improve them. There are some misconceptions about the statistics of non-verbal communication. In the 1970s, Albert Mehrabian established the 7%-38%-55% rule to denote the amount of communication conferred by words, tone, and body language. The findings of that particular study reveal that the words we speak only convey about 7% of the overall message sent; 38% is attributed to voice tone or inflection and 55% to body language. His findings, however, have been somewhat generalized to 7% [verbal], 38%, and 55% [93%] as a working formula for communication. In fact, these numbers only reflect the results of that particular study; they are more about the importance of visuals and the degree to which we rely on them during communication. Mehrabian was only referring to cases that expressed feelings or attitudes such as a person saying…I do not have a problem with you… whereby the focus is on the tone of voice and body language of the person rather than the actual spoken words. It is therefore a common misconception that these percentages apply to all communication. Disagreement among experts puts the level of non-verbal communication as high as 80% while others propose 60-70%, although it could be around 50-65%, according to others.

Regardless of these differences, “the way something is said” inclusive body language and eye contact is 13 times more important than the information given since body language can undermine the message or information.” In essence, words and gestures can say something totally different while body language is more reliable than facial expressions. For example, when the face and body in photographs showed conflicting emotions, participants’ judgment of facial expression was impeded and became biased toward the emotion expressed by the body. The brain possesses the mechanism sensitive to the agreement between facial expression and body language and can evaluate information quickly. On the other hand, various studies show facial communication to be believed 4.3 times more often than verbal meaning. Other findings denote that verbal communication in a flat tone is 4 times more likely to be understood than pure facial expression. Some experts estimate that human communication consists of 93% body language and para-linguistic cues [Para-language refers to the non-verbal elements of communication used to modify meaning and convey emotion; the study of paralanguage is known as para-linguistics]. Para-language may be expressed consciously or subconsciously, including voice pitch and volume, in some cases intonation of speech [grammar], and at times the definition is restricted to vocally produced sounds.

Reading’ people’s body language:
Physical expression
• Kinesics is known as the study of body movement and expressions. Physical expressions such as waving, pointing, touching and slouching are forms of non-verbal communication. Gestures can emphasize a point or relay a message; posture can reveal boredom or great interest; touch can convey encouragement or caution; mirroring someone’s body language indicates that he/she is understood.
• Crossing arms over the chest – sends a basic and powerful body signal, erecting an unconscious barrier between oneself and the other [although the person might be cold, usually clarified by rubbing hands or huddling]. In a serious confrontational situation when the person also leans away from the speaker, it means an expression of opposition.
• Harsh or blank facial expression – often denotes outright hostility.
• Consistent eye contact – indicates the person is thinking positively of what the speaker is saying. It can also mean that the other person doesn’t trust the speaker enough to take his/her eyes off the speaker.
• Looking at the speaker while crossing the arms – indicates the person is bothered but wants to talk.
• Direct eye contact but ‘fiddling’ with something – points toward interest or the fact that attention is somewhere else.
• Lack of eye contact – can mean negativity. However, people with anxiety disorders are often unable to make eye contact without some personal discomfort. Also, cultural difference may demand ‘lowering of the eyes’ due to respect or humility or subservience.
• There are ‘three states of looking,’ representing different states of being:
o Looking from one eye to the other eye and then to the forehead is a sign of taking an authoritative position.
o Moving from one eye to the other eye and then to the nose signals that the person is engaging in ‘level’ conversation – with neither party holding superiority.
o Looking from one eye to the other eye and then to the lips indicates a strong romantic feeling or flirting stage.
• Averted gaze, touching the ear, or scratching the skin – shows disbelief.
• Attention invariable wanders and the eyes stare away for an extended period – denotes the person is not convinced by someone’s words.
• Tilting the head to one side or eyes looking straight ahead at the speaker but becoming slightly unfocused – indicates boredom. On the other hand, a head tilt may point to a sore neck, or amblyopia [‘lazy eye’], and/or other ocular problems by the listener. So, correct interpretation is essential.
• Posture or extended eye contact, and standing properly while listening – shows interest.
• Touching one’s face during conversation – can sometimes denote deceit or an act of withholding information.
• Excessive blinking – is a well-known display of someone lying. However, recent evidence shows that the absence of blinking could also be a more reliable factor for lying than excessive blinking.
• People with certain disabilities or those with autism use and understand body language differently, or not at all. Interpreting their gestures and facial expressions [or lack thereof] in the context of normal body language usually leads to misinterpretations and misunderstandings [especially, if body language is given priority over spoken language].
• Signs and body signals tend to vary by cultural era, gender, and among people from various ethnic/racial groups, who could interpret body language in different ways..

Examples of gestures and interpretations:
• Hands on knees Readiness
• Hands on hips Impatience
• Locking hands behind the back Self-control
• Locked hands behind the head Self-confidence
• Sitting with leg over armchair with legs and feet pointed
• Legs point in a particular direction
Direction where more interest is felt
• Crossed arms Submissiveness or defensiveness

Body posturing or posing:
• Tilting the head to one side and showing the ear – means the person is actually listening. People may start to mirror, causing the other person to tilt the head and listen more.
• Tensioning and releasing face and scalp muscles – is evidence of emotional changes as are changes of skin tone and texture.
• Hand gesture at sides – is interpreted as a drop of energy while bringing the hand closer to the chest is understood as signs of energy, excitement and motivation.
• Walking up behind a person – is taken as alerting and intimidating, or assuming there is a problem.

Signals of the eyes:
They eyes are said to be the ‘mirror of the soul.’ Learning to ‘read’ and interpret eye movement is crucial. They are powerful tools, very expressive, send many cues and signals, and detect tiny changes in the body language of others.
• Glistening eyes – signal strong emotion of either distress, short of crying, or excitement such as passion and triumph.
• Narrowing the eyes deliberately – conveys anguish and distaste. One has to be very aware of this as it may also be directed toward the person, who is the cause or source of that displayed feeling.
• Glaring eyes – used to intimidate and can elicit hostile reactions or responses.
• Unfocused eyes – the person’s ‘mind is wandering; he/she’ is not paying attention; it may be a sign of boredom. Literally, he/she is not focused.
• Lowering the eyes – indicates modesty or submission. This may relate more to a sign of respect for others or could convey a feeling of inferiority.
• A wink with the closed eye directed at the person – implies a ‘shared’ secret.
• Frequent blinking during conversation– denotes high interest. Some use it to seek attention.
• Eye angle changes [even at a distance] – shows that attention is diverted away onto something. The precision timing of eye contact indicates interest, disinterest, or intimidation.
• Looking up to the left – indicates visual thinking and forming mental pictures.
• Eye pupil size changes – signals fluctuating emotions as interests peaks and/or wanes.

Body language and space:
Interpersonal space refers to the imaginary ‘psychological bubble’ when someone is standing way too close [people in an elevator!]. Research reveals four different zones of interpersonal space in North America:
• Intimate distance – ranges from touching to about 18 inches apart; it is the space around us that we reserve for close and intimate members.
• Personal distance – begins about an arm length away, starting around 18 inches proximity and ending about 4 feet away; it is used in conversation with friends and to chat with others during group discussion.
• Social distance – ranges from 4-8 feet away; it applies to strangers, newly formed groups and new acquaintances.
• Public distance – includes anything more than 8 feet away; it is used for speeches, lectures, and theater; essentially, it is reserved for larger audiences.

Sexual interest and body language:
It is important for anybody interacting with mixed gender, youth, and growing adolescent to understand signals that may indicate special personal or sexual interest. It is essential in our role as coaches to be aware, sensitive, and in control to avoid potential misleading or misinterpretations.

‘Special interest’ indicators:
• Exaggerated gestures and body movements
• Echoing and mirroring the speaker
• Room encompassing glances
• Leg crossing
• Pointing the knee
• Hair tossing or touching
• Head tilting
• Pelvic rotation
• Showing wrists
• Adjusting clothes
• Laughing and smiling
• Eye contact
• Touching
• Playfulness
• Proximity

Unintentional gestures and body cues:
Recently, new interest has centered on ‘unintentional cues’ such as:
• Rubbing the eyes
• Resting the chin
• Touching the lips
• Nose etching
• Head scratching
• Finger locking
• Narrowing the eyes, ‘bulges’ in the cheeks and nose – is interpreted as a cue of pain [2010 research on facial recognition on mice to study human reaction of pain and subsequent expression]. This is important to determine if an athlete is hurting, in pain, or using ‘discomfort’ as an excuse.

Since verbal communication accounts between 7-10% of the overall means to convey a message one can never determine the truthfulness or sincerity of people by their words alone (Haynes, 2009). In fact, words transmitted verbally often do not reflect peoples’ thoughts or feelings.

We need to ‘see through’ the emotions to determine:
• Interest
• Boredom
• Signals of excitement
• Frustration or dismay
• Authority or power
• Anger
• Nervousness or tension
• Reassurance
• Ways a person is thinking
• Ways a person acts to convey pride
• A person is more open to agree
• Actions to make someone trust you
• Ways to build rapport
• Ways to open conversations
• Ways action-oriented people act or move
• Ways confident people act or move
• Ways to read and counteract potential objections
• Ways to make lasting impressions
• If a person is keeping a secret
• If another person is suspicious
• Ways to detect a liar
• Repetitive gestures or pacing while talking detract. Gestures need to be expressive, emphasizing the message or content but need to be neutral.
• High-pitched or shrill voice [common in females], flat or monotonous voice is difficult for the listener. One should always:
a) speak clearly and exercise articulation;
b) vary the pitch and pace; and
c) insert correct pauses to ‘catch’ the listener’s interest.
Most men in general battle to modulate the voice [change the tone, volume, frequency] while women usually need to pay special attention to resonance [quality, volume, pitch] as a lower voice quality has been found to be more effective.

‘Reading’ body language:
• Women tend to be more perceptive than men in this aspect.
• Each movement or gesture is a valuable key to specific emotion a person may be feeling or is displaying. Remember that body language is more honest than spoken words!
• The key to ‘reading’ someone’s body language is the understanding of the person’s emotional condition while listening to what he/she is saying, and the circumstances he/she is in while saying it.
• Think of specific coaching situations where this can be valuable!

Rules for accurate interpretation:
• Read gestures in clusters! Recognizing a whole cluster is far more reliable than an isolated gesture.
• Look for congruence! Non-verbal signals have 5 times more impact than verbal ones. When the two do not match, people tend to relay on the non-verbal and disregard the verbal.
• Read gestures in context! Interpret gestures based on the circumstance, environment or climate [tightly crossed arms]!

Awareness of potential communication barriers:
• Athlete’s perception is different from the coach.
• Athlete may not be willing to work through the process.
• Athlete may lack the knowledge needed to understand fully the discussion.
• Athlete may be too emotional to grasp the communication.
• Athlete may lack the motivation to listen.
• Coach may have difficulty to express him/herself clearly.
• Emotions of both parties may interfere with the communication process.

Using ‘open’ body language:
There are several key behaviors, which enhance the so-called open body language, interpreted as an action that the other person is not ‘crossing,’ covering up, or hiding something.

Display of positive body language:
• Be like the ‘solar system’ – stand out!
• Remove any existing barriers with an easy smile and portray a feeling of being comfortable!
• The other person is attracted more easily because the behavior denotes warmth, acceptance, and friendliness.
• ‘Feel grounded!’ This builds up posture.
• Be aware of posture [head, shoulders, back, abdominals and buttock muscles]!
• Stand-tall with good posture, maintain eye contact at all times, keep the palms open and legs uncrossed, and turn the body toward the other party!
• Posture and emotions need to be congruent.
• The voice is calm, firm, and in a measured tone, which denotes authority and confidence.
• Look confident and exude a sense of self-esteem!
• Seek an opportunity to create a field of force and energy and be ‘present’ with the other person!
• Make it an environment of attraction rather resentment!

Active listening skills:
The ability to listen is one of the most important communication skills. It is vital because it makes the coach more effective and productive, creates the opportunity to build rapport and show support. It produces a better teaching/coaching environment, facilitates the process when trying to resolve problems, helps to answer questions, and assists in finding underlying meanings in what others have to say. The ability to listen is a learned skill. It is NOT easy! As some one said in jest…“We were given two ears but only one mouth. This is because God knew that listening was twice as hard as talking”…
• Stop whatever you are doing!
• Look: make eye contact and face the other party squarely!
• Listen: listen carefully to words and emotions combined!
• Use non-verbal cues like nodding to show compassion, sympathy or understanding!
• Patience: Always allow the other party to finish, especially when emotions are involved!
• Respond: Re-state or rephrase to ensure both parties understand clearly!
• Question: Ask questions for more information or clarity!

Practicing effective body language and becoming more aware:
• Consider the respective sport culture, cultural/ethnic, and gender differences!
• Consider any language barrier and English as a second language!
• Match voice and pace!
• Match body language [mirror] with the other party!
• Write down key points for better communication!
• Become aware of personal tendencies under stress!
• Use video taping to analyze personal gesture habits and communication skills!
• Attempt to coach a portion of the daily training without using words [!].

The coach should:
• Realize that body language is more honest than spoken words!
• Become sensitive to the signals being transmitted by athletes at all times!
• Pay special attention to ‘reading’ athletes’ emotional signals in competition!
• Learn to identify the differential signals by athletes under stress, nervousness, and confidence!

Communication is most successful WHEN…
• Both sender and receiver understand the same message!
• It is a 2-Way communication process and Coaches…
o Listen to the ‘pulse’ of athletes and watch for non-verbal cues.
o Ask a lot of questions to engage the mind of athletes.
o Avoid the “WHY” question format because it puts the other party on the defensive!
♣ Instead say … you did this, say this, believe this, and feel that way because…? The process becomes one of ‘thinking’ than an emotional and defensive interaction.
o Possess and demonstrate ‘great’ listening skills!
o Realize that 50% of coaching is ‘listening. Practice great listening skills!

Coaches should become familiar with the rules for accurate interpretation and increase their understanding of potential communication barriers. It is critical for the coach-athlete interaction to develop special awareness, sensitivity, and techniques to ‘read’ body language effectively [females are found to be more perceptive, according to research]. This includes body gestures, unintentional signs, body posturing and poses, physical and emotional indicators, eye signals, body language and space [proximity], etc. Foremost, coaches should become skilled at presenting themselves with open and positive body language and improve listening skills. Repeated video observation is one tool to identify respective personal communication skills and/or behavior, followed by practicing effective body language during daily interaction. Ultimately, the way we communicate plays a large role when making a good impression. Upright posture, eye, contact, handshake, the way we dress, and the ability to ‘read’ the body language of others is significant for personal interaction and successful human relationships.

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