“7 New Ways To Boost Your Coaching Skills By Reading Body Language” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Coaches reading body language illuminates clients’ inhibitions,  leading to the discovery of greater possibilities.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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Whether you call yourself a coach or extend knowledge to others for a living, reading body language adds immense value to your efforts. Thus, the more accurately you read body language, the better your coaching skills will become.

In this insightful article, I highlight the advantages coaches can gain by reading body language during their sessions and the disadvantages of not doing so. I also showcase positive and negative nonverbal gestures and seven new ways to leverage the powerful skill of reading body language. It will boost your coaching abilities and create more significant client success.

1. Gather Greater Client Insights

By observing a client’s body language, coaches can gain invaluable information about hidden thoughts, feelings, and motivations that coachees may not want to disclose verbally. The coach should note when the client displays certain gestures. That will pinpoint when such discomfort arose.  

For instance, suppose a client squirms while speaking, avoids eye contact, and crosses their arms at a particular point in the coaching session. The coach may infer that the client felt uncomfortable or resistant to engage more profoundly in the current discussion, allowing the coach to adjust their approach accordingly.

2. Build Better Trust and Relationships 

A coach’s ability to interpret nonverbal signs and understand a client’s unspoken cues can significantly boost the client’s trust and confidence. That can create a stronger relationship between the coach and the coachee built on mutual appreciation, respect, and open communication.

Consider this: a coach who mirrors the degree of eye contact displayed by the coachee, leans in at appropriate times, and subliminally signals genuine interest and empathy fosters a more trusting environment while increasing perceived empathy.

3. Detect Barriers and Resistance

Body language gestures can signal resistance or uneasiness about the process a coach is using. By being aware of that and addressing these barriers, coaches can help clients overcome obstacles and stay on track toward their goals.

To illustrate, if a client’s posture becomes closed or they display restlessness during a discussion, the coach can take a break in the session and probe to uncover the client’s concerns before proceeding.

4. Improve Response to Feedback

By reading a client’s body language when delivering feedback, coaches can better assess how the coachee receives information and adjust their delivery style. Doing that ensures the client is genuinely absorbing and internalizing the guidance provided.

A coach might observe a client’s facial expression, such as a quizzical look or a tilted head, to determine if they are receptive to the feedback or need additional clarification.  

5. Recognize Breakthrough Moments

Positive shifts in a client’s body language, such as a display of happiness (i.e., broad smile and widened eyes), can indicate noteworthy breakthroughs, indicating a deeper level of understanding during a session. Coaches attuned to these nonverbal cues can emphasize and capitalize on these insightful instances, further boosting the client’s progress.

For example, a coach might observe a client’s posture open up (i.e., sitting erect, smiling, hands open, etc.). That can be their inner conveyance outwardly signaling a breakthrough in their understanding.

6. Increase Accountability and Engagement

When coaches recognize gestures of vacillating commitment or waning motivation through body language, they can actively address these issues and help clients stay committed to their goals. That reinforces the client’s accountability and ownership of the coaching objectives.

For example, suppose a coach observes a client’s energy and enthusiasm fading (i.e., drooping head/shoulders – slow pace of speech, etc.) – in such situations, they can pause and work with the client to revive their vigor and interest.  

7. Improve Coaching Through Nonverbal Communication

To effectively communicate through body language, coaches can complement and enhance the verbal exchange by mimicking the positive body language of coachees and conveying a sense of partiality towards disdain when a coachee’s actions are out of line.

For example, a coach may use open, expansive gestures to indicate alignment with a client’s favorable actions and tighter gestures (body closed) to signal disdain.  

Positive Body Language Gestures:

  • hands/arms away from body
  • coach/coachee matching eye contact accompanied by a smile   
  • nodding of head
  • leaning in hands/arms away from body, palms up
  • genuine smile (corner of lips upturned, crinkle at corner of eyes)

Negative Body Language Gestures:

  • crossed arms accompanied by a facial scowl
  • eye contact avoidance or drifting gaze
  • fidgeting, squirming, tapping – can also indicate nervousness
  • opening and closing of the fist
  • frowning, furrowed brow

To read body language accurately, observe clusters of gestures. That allows coaches to determine if someone displays negative or positive behavior. A single gesture does not necessarily indicate that. Coaches should raise their awareness about their body language, too. Coachees respond to signals they receive from their coach.

The Repercussions of Not Reading Body Language

The consequences can be significant for coaches who struggle with reading body language. Coachees may feel misheard or misunderstood, leading to missed opportunities for the coach to deliver a better session. The coach may miss other critical insights that may lessen the rapport they might otherwise create with their client. Also, without recognizing signs of resistance or discomfort, coaches may unintentionally drive clients too hard, leading to the coachee disengaging, becoming defensive, or ending the engagement prematurely.


A lack of body language awareness can hamper a coach’s effectiveness and success. It can also destroy relationships. By implementing the seven strategies I have outlined, coaches will increase their reading body language skills, unlock a powerful aspect of their practice, and deliver more valuable sessions to their clients. And everything will be right with the world.

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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