Body Language

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A – Z Coaching and Mentoring – here is the second in a series of random extracts from Clare’s book – more to follow each week throughout 2018 – if you have a special request for a definition of a coaching term or principle, just let us know! Perfect for anyone studying for an ILM Coaching & Mentoring qualification, or as a refresher for experienced coaches.


Body language is the observation of physiological signals that people give as a result of their thoughts and emotions. Body language can involve isolated small signals or clusters of signals that are happening together. Body language and its meaning varies from person to person and between cultures, so the value of firm ‘rules’ is limited. The best starting to point is to spend time noticing the signals and postures for a particular person and then determining patterns for that person and what that appears to mean. This is called calibrating. Congruence happens when body language is aligned with the verbal messages that a person gives, for example, they look and sound excited about something, as well as telling you they are excited. Incongruence occurs when the opposite happens, for example a person tells you they are happy and yet other clues in their tone of voice and physiology suggest they are not. Spotting either of these situations is a powerful coaching skill and includes noticing:

  • micro-expressions which might pass very quickly
  • spatial distances between people
  • posture
  • rates and depth of breathing
  • body movements such as crossing or opening the arms.


Taken from the A-Z Coaching Handbook by Clare M Smale where you will find a comprehensive A-Z, plus a full list of references.

Email for your copy or order through this website here

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