I had my own coaching session recently. It was about my procrastination regarding completing some essays I need for a professional qualification. Quite frankly I am bored to tears listening to myself talk about this issue and actually didn’t want to “share” again, but I found myself volunteering to be coached, and there was no going back. The first question was “What do you want to talk about today” and I launched into my spiel about where I was with the essays, how I felt about them, etc. I talked without pausing for breath for several minutes. The second question the coach asked was about my body language. What was the hand clutching, mouth hiding (with my hands), folded arms and folded legs all about? I looked at her. What on earth was she talking about? What did she mean about my hands, the covering of my mouth? I honestly had no idea whatsoever that I was doing this. I was astonished. For a moment or two I was speechless. What had I been doing? And why? I was speaking about my problems with the essays. I was saying I wanted to do them, I was going to do them, but for reasons I couldn’t fathom, I was failing to get started. So there was some positivity with the essays. My body language was saying “I don’t want to do these essays. If I cover my mouth, stroke my chin, fold my arms, clench my hands together, pick my fingers, perhaps it’ll all go away.”
This was not the point I was trying to get across, but it was very, very revealing about where I was subconsciously. As the coaching session went on, we explored what it was like to open my arms, palms upwards. I felt some internal resistance and discomfort in doing this. Something inside me, didn’t want to do it. We pressed on though, observing how I was feeling. I admitted the essays are like an albatross around my neck and described “the albatross” not as a bird but as a round stone with a whole in the middle, held round my neck with a chain. All down the left side of my body. Interestingly, the left side of my body is where I have a continually painful and tense shoulder. Could it be that I was carrying my anxiety on this side of my body? I had an “Ah Ha” moment: the pain in my shoulder returned when I’d given myself a deadline to complete the essays.
As we kept talking, I kept my arms open and my palms up facing the ceiling, and the tension in my shoulder started to ease. My body language was, by now, much more open. By the time I returned home, the pain I usually have in the top of my left arm – like a deep bruise – had dissipated. When I touched it, it simply felt as if I was pinching myself rather than touching a bruise. The point of telling you this is this: my body language was revealing my deepest feelings, but I was unconsciously doing it. I had no idea that I was giving of a message of “holding in” or “not letting go”. So much of our body language happens without us being aware of it. It’s generally agreed that when we walk into a room or make a presentation, it’s our body language and what we look like that has the most impact – not what we have to say. How intensely frustrating is that, when we work so hard on the content of what we have to say! So it might be an idea, after reading this blog to have a little think about your body language. What do you notice about it? What is it saying about you?
And is the message you’re giving, through your body language, the one you actually want to give?