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Graham Hooper – Intuition

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Intuition is closely linked to listening, but it is about noticing your assumptions when having a coaching conversation and what has triggered those assumptions. You should check your assumptions by asking questions. But how do you notice it in the first place?

Body language is the secret art of communication and often one we are unaware of ourselves. I would like to look at some basic body postures and what they might mean and notice the word ‘might’ – this is why your intuition must be checked, don’t make assumptions!


I have listed everyday body language below:


• Leaning forward may suggest that someone is eager, excited, or anticipating the next words, whereas leaning backwards could mean they don’t want to talk and may feel disgusted or repulsed or simply they are just plain uncomfortable.


• Standing upright, and walking tall suggests that someone is confident, formal, or possibly reserved.


• Stooped shoulders: deflated, dejected, or feeling hopeless.


• Noticing someone’s hands: we do so much with our hands – they are a great form of communication, but they also give away our feelings. Notice if someone is drumming their fingers, are they feeling frustrated, irritated, or impatient?


• Fists clenched: are they nervous or angry?


• Hands clasped: comfortable, wishing for something.


• Hands in a steeple shape: feeling superior, thinking deeply.


• Biting fingernails: anxious, impatient.


• Rubbing their chin: evaluating, thinking.


• Hands on their chin: thinking.


• Hands in front of their mouth: concealing something, does not believe what has been said.


• Finger in front of the mouth: thinking they should not speak, thinking of something that should not be discussed.


• Head leaning on their hand: bored, demotivated.


• Finger on the temple: instructing self to think.


• Scratching head: embarrassed, instructing self to think.


• Touching nose: said something but doesn’t believe it.


• Stroking head: self-comfort, rewarding self.


• Playing with hair: self-comfort.


• Touching the eyebrows: trying to hide, embarrassed.


• Playing with the fringe: trying to hide, embarrassed.


• Clutching the armrest: fear.


• Rubbing arms/hands together: anticipation, savoring the moment.


There is, of course, a lot more to body language – but noticing what the client is doing with their arms and legs and facial expressions, can give you a huge clue as to what they are thinking and how they are feeling.


It is important though not to jump to any conclusions. We all know from our own experience that our assumptions are not always accurate and if we don’t check them, we can start to play those games in our heads, like, ‘They don’t like me’ ‘They are unhappy with what I am doing’ or ‘They like me, what does that mean?’

These are dangerous assumptions because we never know what someone else is thinking, we can only guess! A technique you can use is reflecting what you notice to the client. Notice their body language, is it positive or negative, and allow what you notice to guide the conversation, this can be an effective way of using your intuition and of course checking it.


You can start to notice your body language as a coach, is it matching/mismatching your clients? Do you practise open body language to keep yourself neutral whilst checking your assumptions?


If you would like to research further into body language then this is a useful book to consider
of course if you want to study facial expressions then watch this YouTube video by Paul Ekmann will set you off in the right direction

Intuition is one of the five essential coaching skills – you must notice whatever you notice. Maybe today is the day that you can start with yourself, because becoming a coach starts with self-awareness.


Graham Hooper

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