Shed the layers

Today I would like to begin by sharing the gist of three movies that I feel gave a compelling universal message. Hope you have seen few of them.

A few years back I watched the movie “Up” that I love repeatedly watching even today. In the film, Carl Fredrickson’s heart is hardened by his wife’s death. He buries his loving self and spirit of adventure along with her. But there is a moment in the movie where he is flipping through his childhood –adulthood photo album. As he looks into the pictures that reflect his genuine self, in an instant he realizes what is missing within him, and sheds his defences. He reconnects with the innocent, full of wonder adventurer who he is quintessentially and that brings him back to life!

In the movie Tamasha, the main protagonist is almost executing his life by concealing his true spirit. He is reluctant to be himself, so he pretends to be the person that he feels is expected of him. The movie is about his journey where he chooses a career and a way of life that is lapping the joy out of him until he finally sheds his layers and steps into his true calling.

In the movie Moana, the feisty protagonist travels oceans to restore the life of the mother goddess ( Te Fiti) by returning her heart.  She has to go past a monster (Te Ka) to be able to do that.  But on reaching the island Moana realizes that Te Ka is Te Fiti without her heart.  She restores the heart, and the monster sheds her dark cover and then emerges the brilliant goddess who is trapped inside of her.

I want you to meet Moana, Tefiti and Teka. Here they are

I believe most of us will relate to all these three stories that send a simple message.  Be who you truly are.  Shed that cover and embrace your real self. Your strengths, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and fears will help you evolve when you begin to be the quintessential you.

Being true to ourselves is so simple, yet we make it so complicated. Here I am not talking about the behavior’s we do, but about the core emotions that you operate from.  We want to feel peace and joy, but that gets difficult if we are busy pretending or build a fort around us. I used to be a lively, exuberant, chatterbox child and those who know me may be surprised, but I used to mimic characters, enact solo dramas, and dance to Boney M and Abba songs with my mother watching me in delight. But as life happened, unknowingly  I began to lock myself up. It was like those stacked toys where there is a doll inside of a doll.  I took on the cover of being solemn and proper as it felt like a very safe way to be as a grown up.  I was totally unaware of why I had so much of resentment and anger towards the world when actually I was stealing my own light. But in the past few years, my coach helped me to set myself free. Today I feel very comfortable with who I am because I feel so connected to the smallest doll in me which is my core spirit.

As children, we are so pure, innocent and aligned to our core spirit. But, as we hear voices criticizing us, experiences testing us, society judging us, we begin to put up a façade or borrow masks. It feels safe but is also suffocating. It feels so frighteningly safe that we start to feel this is who we are.  Then to get rid of the uneasiness or to feel good about ourselves we keep searching for something or someone on the outside. Anything on the outside never will be sufficient as the true self is shut down and not receiving it. The layered self-does not want it.

I worked with a student some years back who wanted to be someone who could crack jokes, humour a crowd and look stylish. He wished to be a favourite among friends. Each time while going out with friends he used to feel miserable. He believed he was not cool like most of them and also terrified to pretend to be something he is not. So after an evening full of trial and error of pretence he still was not the favourite guy in the group and came back feeling worse. In our sessions what changed for him was when he paused to think of his deeper intention of hanging out with friends and that was more than just fun. He slowly realized he is someone full of wonder, laughter, appreciative, and just simple. He was then facing the dilemma of whether he wants to connect with that core or be someone else. Sometimes after we peel the layers and see who we are, we need to make that choice.  Either honestly embrace that side or draw a curtain on it.  He started stepping out being that real person, and soon he became aware of how gifted he was. He saw he had the gift of not judging people constantly, truly listening and being happy for them.   As he began to show up with people being comfortable with who he was, slowly he started to bond. He realized his light was sufficient for him to shine and stand out, and that allowed him to receive what he valued the most….deep bonds of meaningful friendships.

Ask yourself this very moment, how real do you feel each day when you are alone and with others? Observe yourself for a while like you were observing someone else, and see yourself in different phases of your life. Describe yourself on a piece of paper as to who you are, what are your gifts.

What is stopping you from being the real you? What has to happen for you to be who you really are?

I know right now you must be saying,” Hey this is not as simple as she is saying it ”.

I agree, but you know what? It is.

Moana’s song says it all :

I have crossed the horizon to find you

I know your name

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are

You know who you are

You truly are…


Keep smiling!


The Inward Angle


During my coaching and mentoring program I had an amazing awareness of myself. Then as I thought more about it I began seeing traces of it in many areas of my life.

  • I realized I wished to take actions in certain situations and yet was holding back.
  • I wished to stop doing few behaviour’s, however, was not able to change.
  • I was pushing myself to complete some actions that I had initiated but was finding excuses not to finish them.
  • After taking a decision I found myself being passive. The decision seemed right yet did not feel right. But, with some decisions, it was an instant go, felt totally in charge.

When I asked myself what is happening, I got an instant reply saying, “I don’t know”!! So I labelled myself as lazy, not confident or not good enough.

How about you? Do you experience something similar?

With the help of my coach, I then became aware that the times when I was pushing myself to do things, there was a lack of congruence in my thoughts and actions. There was a conflict within me, and that needed to be resolved first before I attempted to move ahead.

The presence of that inner conflict was springing from a sense of fear.  Fear is not new to anyone and we are aware of it when going for an exam or doing a presentation. But it can also be present silently in different ways. That inner conflict also arises from a clash in our values and the soreness stays like a tiny thorn in the foot. Reminding us that our values are being threatened, and asking us “Are you okay with that?”

So before changing a behaviour or beginning to do a new behaviour, if you are seeing any of the above responses in you, it would be very important to realize, acknowledge and resolve the conflict. Otherwise, that sense of incongruence will manifest itself in various undesirable emotions.

One of my earlier clients, a young lady was battling a sense of fatigue that she felt the entire day. She wanted to feel energetic and alive. She said that she had several responsibilities and yet she kept postponing them or being indecisive about completing them. As we had our sessions, she began to realize was this was not physical fatigue but mental. Also, slowly she became aware, that her role in the past one year at home had changed. There had been a sudden reversal of roles where she was taking care of her parents. All the while it was the other way round. A part of her was happy to do that, and there was a part of her that resisted it and wanted to go back to being the child who was looked after, and that was the inner conflict. The fear of being responsible, unexpected reversal of roles and stepping out her comfort zone was causing discomfort. She chose to acknowledge this and as we worked with it, soon she stepped into her new role with a purpose. She began planning actions, taking decisions and having conversations that she used to keep postponing or avoiding.

Another is the story of this gentleman who loved his family immensely and did everything he could for them. So much that he wanted to make life perfect for his spouse and kids. He had a habit of getting angry often with them and wanted it to stop. He felt his anger was a kind of resentment that showed up as a result of insufficient verbal appreciation from his family.  As we spoke more, he said: “I realize I do not rely on my family, I do not trust them as they do not help me”. When I asked him if he had ever asked for help, he said “No”. He further said, “What if they refuse?” I asked, what would happen? He guffawed and said “Actually nothing, I will survive!”  He then said,” I actually fear that they may see me as being weak.” So a part of him wanted help from his family in some areas and a part of him was not allowing him. He had a fear of being refused, a fear of being seen as someone who is not strong enough and that was manifested in anger. He realized how he had been communicating with himself and just acknowledging that made him feel free.

The reason I am sharing this is that just like I became aware, probably some of you may be going through something similar. You may be trying to take a decision or change a behaviour and keep getting the feeling that something is just not fitting right.  In such instances, when I have tried to change something only at the doing level or looked at it as a “have to” change of behaviour, it has felt incomplete. Probably like a pretence. The change was temporary.  What has helped is to get aware of the fear, discomfort or unrest, face it and look at it honestly. Just acknowledging, is a great way to begin and then to resolve it. Developing powerful habits and discipline is definitely the way forward but once the inner conflict is rested then moving forward becomes simpler.

More smiles to all

Warm regards



Thinking with a Coach

Last week I was speaking to a dear friend and we were catching up after a long time. He narrated an experience that encouraged an initiative that I have shared below. Since he knows that I am an NLP Coach he mentioned that he works with an Executive coach. He admitted that initially when his organisation had offered him coaching sessions he was quite apprehensive. He said,” Since I was doing very well in my workspace I wondered what could a coach do for me so I read about it on the Internet”. On the morning of the first session, he said,” I was still unconvinced and was resisting the idea, but as I walked towards the meeting room I said to myself, let me stay curious and discover how it can benefit me. And, the experience was worth every second of my time as I took back powerful insights and awareness about my life. In a way, it was like being given fuel to have a better run.”

As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr says “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a Life’s experience.

Just like my friend, I have been fortunate to meet people who have shown a keen interest in understanding Life Coaching, Executive Coaching. During conversations I have heard statements like “It is not something for me who has been in the Industry for 20 years, it is for youngsters” or “I think I must be someone who will gain from personal coaching” or “This is something I have been looking for” I have also had instances where my audience heard me for a while and gently changed the topic. One relative tried explaining it to his wife that I listen to people and make big bucks.  I got an honest opinion from a friend who said she just does not have the time and is better off managing things on her own. One enquirer has told me explicitly that he is tired of getting suggestions and advice, and just wants results now.  Another friend asked me if he could send a few people whom I could change as that would make his life simpler.

With all these experiences I began to wonder if there was some way I could introduce people to experience and decide how effective coaching is. To probably give them a first look at coaching. As a coach what I see happening is while most people are open to coaching, there is also an apprehension. I feel this hesitation comes mostly from the comfort of living life with our well-anchored beliefs and values.  Today most of the top leaders, successful people have a Coach. I also work with a Coach.

I completely respect and understand different points of view, and for those who wish to understand more about how specifically coaching sessions can benefit, I have this initiative for them.

Join me for a free Discovery Coaching Session this month and get an opportunity to experience ” Thinking with a Coach”. The last date for sending the request is 13th Dec 2017.  Just drop a message on or +91 8880423157

Warm Regards








And it’s a GOAL!!!!!

I am not a core sports fan but sometimes watch  Foot Ball in passing moments. When a match is being played on television, just as a player is about to hit a goal, I see my family on the edge of their seat. I stop and watch that wonderful moment play out and get goosebumps as the players rejoice.  Accomplishments, Achievements, Triumphs feel wonderful, don’t they? They fuel a sense of joy and fulfilment.  But it all begins with the player having a goal to get a goal, doesn’t it?

We wish for many things in different areas of our life, such as I wish I had better communication skills, I want to be a CEO, I want to lose weight, a dream to own a library at home someday and many more. Sometimes these wishes may just remain as wishes, wants and dreams because though they represent aspirations, hope, happiness,  they probably also have hidden beliefs such as “ I  don’t deserve it”,” Is it even possible?”  “ I would like to, but can’t have it”, “It’s for someone who is better”  and so on. I was someone who always doubted my worthiness and my coach asked me, “How do you know that you cannot achieve your dreams? I had no answer. The coach then asked         ” What would help you find out?  “One way could be to try and find out “, was my reply. I realized that rather than wondering my entire life as possible vs not possible I wanted to get into the process and find joy in the journey towards my vision. I sensed my dream was bigger than my ego and felt certain that whether successful or not, the journey will help me learn and grow. I made a choice to grow and drew a sheet full of colourful dreams with an intention to pursue them.

People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t.
They don’t suffer. But they don’t live either

– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Dreams to Goal :

I am really not sure as to how this word got coined.  Initially, when people spoke to me about goals and smart goals it felt very clinical and thought of it as an unnecessary activity. I used to wonder, I know what I want to achieve  so what’s more to think about it? But when my coach asked me specific questions  about what I wanted to accomplish professionally  I realized that I only had a vague idea of what I wanted. Also, it became evident to me that I have no idea how to get there.  As I began to define my goals I realized writing goals is a process which brings clarity, focus and also calls for action. When we talk about wants and dreams they sound more as hope. It is like wishing that something on the external happens and what we want falls into our lap. But when we say Goal, we take responsibility, take charge of our life and chart our journey with focus and action. Isn’t that better than just wishful thinking? One way to give shape and form to our dreams and wishes is by stating them in the form of a Goal.

Does it have to be called a Goal? Not really! You can call it outcomes, result, vision, performance or whatever feels right for you. More than the word it is the process of working with what we want to create that is important. But whatever you call it, make sure it is motivating and inspiring

How does Goal Setting help?

1.You stop complaining or blaming the external world :

When we begin to write our goals we are focusing on” creation”.  Creation manifests positivity, so we state the goal in the positive and all our energy and focus goes there.  I remember my daughter used to say “ I don’t want my friends to get better marks than me” Really? How do we stop them I would say. She then changed her goal to “ I want to score  X marks in the upcoming term”

2.You get ready to take risks and face your fear.

I think in the act of writing  down our goals we challenge our belief of “ I  won’t be able” and reframe it as “ I can do it”. That gets us going.  The process of goal defining  helps us replace fear with commitment.

3.You get clear about what You do not want.

This was during the time my training career had just taken off, and I was welcoming all the work I was getting.  I used to visit my goal occasionally to check if I was on the right path, and that helped me realize that there is some work I would like to say No to. So I began refining my goal statement with the process of elimination. That again helped me to get more focused and determined about what I wanted for myself.

4.Your unconscious guides you :

The process of goal setting offers so much clarity and focus that it becomes a sensory experience. We see a vision, the main path, inside lanes, passing lanes. We know what we need for the journey and to check for recognizing that we are packed for the journey. Know how to check for milestones and when to stop for fuel. That is why some people prefer to draw their goals, use colours or use picture themes. Then, once you write your goal you need not refer to it as a map each day. The powerful unconscious will hold the map for you.

5.You experience a sense of purpose, joy:

Some of us believe that a goal has to be long-term and something very substantial such as making an x amount of money in the next five years.  Need not be. It could be as simple as what “Russell “wanted for himself in the movie “ Up”. His goal was to earn the wilderness explorer batch for helping the elderly before the upcoming ceremony where he would get the honour of being called as the senior wilderness explorer. Take a look at him…. his determination, focus, the joy in his eyes, as he states his goal.

Not met Russel yet? Here he is


The sheer joy of exploring and moving towards what we want makes life more meaningful, and that is why you need to create a new goal for yourself once you achieve the current one!

Goals are not just words but powerful possibilities and aspirations.

What is your dream? What are your goals?

“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going… It’s as simple as that “ Earl Nightingale.

Keep that smile on!


The ” No” Conversations

  • Do you find it difficult to say no to requests and invitations from colleagues, friends, and bosses at work?
  • Very often at the office, do you feel like saying No to requests but end up saying Yes?
  • Do you feel upset with others in your team since you have your own job to complete, and you have not been able to say No to additional responsibilities?


  • How do you feel when someone at work says “No” to your request or an idea?

My paternal uncle always had lots of stories to share from his experiences. Often we used to chat about life and its lessons. He was a very helpful person and was known around his town as someone with a helping hand. He once told me” It is not possible to help people each time they ask. There are times when I have had to refuse them. But what has happened is that I see those people then begin to keep a distance from me. People essentially do not like hearing a no and get upset. They seem to forget the moments I had reached out and remember the only time I had said no. We complicate the simplest of things”.

That’s so true, isn’t it? We are experts at taking situations and flavouring them with emotions. We find it embarrassing to say No to a request and feel equally grim to hear one.

Often my clients ask me tips on how to say No to requests for support at work since saying No does not come naturally to us.  I feel at the core we all want to be supportive and helpful to each other and by saying No we feel like we are not being that.  Earlier I found saying No very difficult as it felt like I am refusing to help someone, whereas I wanted to feel like I am contributing and being useful.

So today I would like to explore situations in the workplace and see how we think when we hear a No and say a No. What does it do to our emotional state? Does it affect our communication? Our relationships? Does it feel conflicting? Does it cause stress?  Let us look at different situations.

 Situation I – Saying a “No”

Most of us feel extremely guilty saying no to requests, ideas, proposals etc.  at work within the context of a relationship we share. So sometimes either we reluctantly take it up or probably go ahead and decline.

When we reluctantly take it up, seconds later a voice goes off in our head that says,” Oh no, why did I agree, I should have come up with some excuse! ”.  Then you begin to feel anxious and upset about the situation and also the people involved. In fact what I have observed is that this emotion overshadows my day till the job is done.

When you refuse, initially you smartly endure that discomfort for a while. Then you begin to constantly observe that one person from the corner of your eye to see if his attitude towards you has changed or if he seems offended.  Just in case he does, then there goes your sleep for the night!

Situation II – Hearing a” No”

Ever thought of this one? We find it extremely unsettling to hear a No and carry those emotions for quite some time inside of us.  One Sunday I was not keeping well. I made a call to my cook asking her to come on a holiday to help me out. She explained the reason why she cannot and very calmly and kept the phone down. Honestly, I felt snubbed and extremely disappointed. Her no to my request sounded to me like a denial, a refusal.  Does this sound familiar? We pretend it does not matter and that everything is okay, but at some level, we are not able to come to terms with the fact that someone just said No to us.

Situation III – The silent “No”

Have you ever had ghost conversations? These are conversations we have in our head and we represent both the parties. Let me tell you more.  During the year-end audits at our office, I used to work late hours. All the time I used to hope someone would offer me help but no one ever did and I ended up sulking. In my head how the whole thing played out was that people must understand that I want help and ask me if I needed assistance. Since they did not, in my imagination there was a conversation happening where I am requesting and they are saying a No. Isn’t this bizarre?

Secret is in the Thinking

So if you carefully look through all the instances I shared, the common denominator is our emotional turbulence; Millions of moments of anxiety, irritation and anger.  Without being aware we carry the burden of so many unpleasant feelings in our body that it gets difficult to find joy and fulfilment while on the job.  It may seem very trivial but soon these responses become a way of life, a habit, and cause unpleasant stress at work. Most of us choose to ignore this and these feelings of upset soon extend as strained relations in the office.

It is time to acknowledge that we are humans working behind those corporate walls and that we have sentiments and reactions to what is happening with us or around us. In my experience, it has helped to take a moment, work on my relationship with self, iron out the inside and then move on.

So I stopped and asked myself, what is happening? When I heard a No, I felt people are rejecting me. When I had to say a No, I felt they will no longer like me. In short, I thought people are making life difficult for me.  That’s the time I realized;  I am blaming the outside world for the emotions I am feeling! The problem is in my thinking! The problem is with the meanings I am forming!

I was attaching my own meaning to peoples responses, and those meanings were spoiling the peace and joy in me. So I began taking personal responsibility. Responsibility means the ability to respond, and I began to choose a way of thinking that made me feel empowered.

  • So when I want to say “No” to a request, idea or proposal I am aware of my intention. When my intention is to be helpful and also be true to my priorities, values, make the other person feel listened to and respected, I find it simpler to express myself.
  • When I hear a No being said to me, I now realize that the others are choosing a priority. They are not doing anything to me, instead, are doing what fits them best.
  • One amazing learning I had in this self- reflection exercise was that people do not owe me a thing. So if I want something, I just have to ask!

If what I have shared remotely matches with any of your experiences, then take a moment and build a relationship with yourself first.  Take personal responsibility in your thinking, and create a positive world on the inside. It begins with you. It always was you.

“It is easy to say No when there is a deeper yes burning inside – Steven Covey “

Keep smiling

Warm regards


Power of Coaching

Story: Fox and the grapes

We all have heard the famous fable about the fox and the grapes in our childhood. A fox was walking through the forest and spotted a bunch of grapes hanging from a tree. Being hungry he jumps at the hanging grapes but misses. He keeps trying and jumps repeatedly, but cannot reach the grapes. Finally, he gives up and goes away saying” The grapes were probably sour anyway”.

Let us stop for a moment and think about this. The fox wanted the grapes and made an effort to reach them. He had the potential and strength to reach them. So what is one thing that could have enabled him to reach those grapes?  What would have made a difference in this situation of him wanting those grapes and he being able to reach them? What do you think?

What can make a difference?

Coaching can make a difference!

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”    –   Timothy Gallway

Coaching is a powerful tool that aims at rocketing individual performance and achieve outstanding results.  It also enables an individual to experience transformation and sense of well-being, joy and fulfilment.

Coaching is one of the fastest growing service industries today and Sheila Maher and Suzi Pomerantz state that [ International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, 2003, 1(2), 3-11.}   “It is clear that coaching is not a fad and it is not new. Coaching is rooted in a range of philosophies and practices that can be traced back to Aristotle, Buddhist thought, Gestalt theory, and various gurus of ontology and business.”

Coaching is an effectual process that involves a partnership between two people. In the process, there are conversations within a context that leads to awareness, reflections, realisations, actions and results. Coaching is not a motivational tool. It is a process where the coach supports, encourages and challenges you to think differently.

In simple words, coaching encompasses the journey between where you are to where you want to be.

Who is a Coach?

  • A coach is a partner that helps you develop and tap into your strengths, maintain sustained efforts and stay focussed.
  • A coach is a resource that helps you clear your lens and have more clarity in your vision
  • He is like a sounding board that listens to you from a deeper level as you think through ideas and produce results.
  • A coach is a space that provides stillness as you see different perspectives; attend to your deepest fears and your internal conflicts.

There are different kinds of coaches such as Sports, Fitness, Performance, Life, Executive, Health coach and so on.  Every coach works differently, based on his area of expertise. I work as an NLP, Life & Executive Coach.

What does a Coach do?

A coach helps people produce excellent results at work and in life. He believes that people have limitless potential and works with those who are willing to work on themselves and wish to engage in the process of change, transformation and success.

A Life Coach helps individuals experience a sense of well-being and personal transformation by addressing various areas of their life. What does that exactly mean? Probably this might be a question in your mind. Let me share a couple of examples here.

I had this opportunity to work with a friend of mine. After more than two decades of working in a role, that he claimed was his passion, was suddenly finding a sense of dissatisfaction at work. He believed it was because he was not experiencing the freedom to work the way he wanted.  In the coaching sessions he discovered that he did have the freedom, so where was that sense of dissatisfaction coming from?  As I worked with him, his deeper thoughts unfolded. He realized, he wanted to earn more money, and through the sessions, he clearly saw a belief that was holding him from generating more money. Just knowing what was really causing the struggle within him, set him free.  With this insight, he then created a goal that motivated him and felt purposeful. We then created a plan and structure for him to achieve that. That’s the potential of coaching!

A challenge that one of my clients had was lack of confidence while speaking to people. He was aware that his voice trembled while speaking to people and that he spoke irrelevant matter while answering. Through our coaching conversations and few NLP processes what changed for him was that he started believing in his ideas and thinking. He began focusing on the conversation and not on his internal dialogue or the idea of impressing people. He got muscle into his conversations when he began expressing his own thoughts, insights and ideas. That’s the power of coaching!

 Similarly, an Executive Coach helps professionals, leaders, managers to improve their performance at work, achieve organizational goals, progress in their career and find a sense of joy and purpose at work. Here I would like to share one of my significant coaching experiences.

“ One of the challenges that I faced as a leader in my organization was the team not maintaining discipline in the processes involving paperwork and response to the internal communication. I struggled for a very long time and had several flight and fight scenes at the office.  But when I worked with a coach, in just one session, I became aware that I was trying to fix a leak where it was not happening. Some other part of the pipeline needed plumbing. That Aha moment threw me into a spiral of actions. The processes smoothened out and today I share the best relation I could imagine with my team.”

We all have limitless potential

  • Currently, are you looking at achieving some goals? If you are, then do you have clarity about what you truly want? Is it just a hazy image or just a lingering thought in your head as a “maybe” plan?
  • Is there any challenge that you are facing and think that this is how it will be? Really? Does it have to? Think again!
  • Have you started working on something and are wondering if your direction is right?
  •  Do you wish to bring change in some areas of your life, certain behaviours, or an emotion, but are not sure how? If you are experiencing moments like these, then you can certainly benefit from coaching.

In fact” you” are the most powerful ingredient that makes coaching brilliant. When you step into the coaching space with an intention and single-mindedness of working on your growth, improvement, success and fulfilment, magic happens. What you focus on expands and gets stronger!

So looking back at our story of the fox reaching out to his grapes as a metaphor, do you think he needed a coach? I don’t think he needed one. But if he truly wanted those grapes and wished to expand his potential a notch higher, then a coach would have certainly enabled him to tap into it.

You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great” – Les Brown

Move, jump, leap and keep that smile on!


Look who’s talking!


Learning Language –

Can a language be learnt? We all would say yes.  Of course, if you are willing, you can learn it. Very commonly I get a request from my clients that they want to learn body language.  When we interact with people, they observe our non-verbal’s or our body language and interpret a meaning. Since it is a way of communication we call it a language and believe that it can be learnt.  So, what exactly do we mean by learning body language? Why do we want to learn it? How does it help us in our communication? What do you think?

A few years back a parent had got his son to meet me with a request to teach him body language.  The son who had just finished his engineering was preparing for a job interview. When I asked what was it that he wanted to learn in body language, their response was how to walk, sit, keep the hands, how to place the legs on the floor while sitting etc.  I noted that sincerely in my notebook and pointed out that he is already doing that. His father replied, “I want him to learn correct body language so that the interviewer finds him impressive “Fair enough. Further in the conversation he explained, what he really wanted for his son was to be confident, carry himself effortlessly and look as someone who is in control of himself.  The young man seemed very unsure in his disposition. Is this only about someone who has not learnt correct body language? Can learning body language be the solution or could there be more?

Yes, we all can learn body language at the external physical level such as practice to stand, sit or walk in a way so that we appear confident and be respectful. But is that all that is required? I will say no. Even though we can learn body language, just doing that is not sufficient to achieve the desired outcome which in the case of this young man was to come across as self- assured.

Meaning – What is body language

Body language is referred to the silent messages our body conveys about our mood and emotions.  Even when you sit like a statue and not move at all it signals something, or more appropriate to say would be that the viewer will always decode a message. Everything right from our posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye movement, stride, handshakes, the physical distance we maintain and even our voice is interpreted. This is one language which can be spoken and read differently by people. There is no dictionary to refer.

Can we learn Body Language? Yes

We all have a certain way of moving our head, standing, walking, sounding, using our hands. Did we learn it?  Yes, we did, as babies we did that by observing others and still do. Then over time muscle memory set in and we all adopted a certain way of carrying ourselves. Some of us stand with our feet slight apart, some like to gesture while speaking, maybe tilt our head forward slightly while listening or keep a hand on the chin while thinking.

There is a sea of research done by experts that explains the connect between the body and mind.  So, if you wish to learn to stand or move in a way that seems respectful, empowering or even stop doing certain movements, you can do it with heightened self-awareness and sufficient practice. Similarly, you can train your voice to sound in a way you want or learn to keep an appropriate distance between people. Core exercises at the gym will certainly give you a good stance and posture.

Is just learning the external language sufficient? No

A few years back I had a client who was taking sessions with me to improve his interpersonal skills. This gentleman who was quite assertive and extremely polite in his conduct had a habit. He had a practice of rapidly moving his hands (wrist onwards) continuously in rhythm while speaking. Since he had a feedback from his senior that it was distracting he wished to overcome it. I also observed his rate of speech was very fast.

Now, the sensible thing to do was to ask him to stop moving, keep his hands down and speak. We did try that. But now he could not speak in a continuous flow and began filling his forgotten words with “umms “and “ aaa’s “ ! So, what was it that was stopping him from learning what we say the “right body language”?

Similarly, a person can be told to hold his shoulders well, pull out his chest a bit and walk straight, yet he may look uneasy and stiff.  I have seen people have an extremely assured gait yet they look more arrogant than confident. Our thinking creates our world and that gets communicated to our body. We don’t even realise it! Hence working only at the physiology/bodily level only may not give us the desired results. 

The gentleman with the moving hands had a habit, a body and mind tuning. What we did was replaced the habit of moving his hands. He practiced to visualise as he spoke, and that softened the hand gestures and his rate of speech. We then went on to practice varied rates of speech so that he sounded engaging. So, working at various levels is very important to have a desirable body language.

When I stepped into the training world I had great difficulty in speaking with people that I perceived to be high in authority and intelligence. I remember clearly that I used to have a sense of choking in the throat, people told me that they could see fear in my eyes and that I came across as a worried person. I knew the right way to stand and conduct myself, and though that gave me courage, I still did not seem poised. I realised that there was some deeper work needed and decided to address it. I worked with a coach who coached me on my self -perception and ability to think with clarity and that helped me to have even better body language.

I have a similar experience while working with my clients on their presentation skills.  While practicing presentation skills, I encourage my participants to be open, stand upright and use the space well. But almost always, the awkwardness remains, and the tension in their body is evident.  Something is incomplete in how their energy seems when they begin to present. But as we begin to have conversations around their fear, their self-image, or conflicts within their mind, I notice they begin to be comfortable with who they are and there is a very notable shift in their body language. Then with practice and by exploring different techniques of presenting, their body language just flows.

Understand and then Learn

  • So to have a confident body language get to know what constitutes good body language. It will help you to polish certain areas of how you present yourselves. A simple tip of not pointing a finger at someone, instead, using the entire hand while gesturing to the others can help you to appear respectful. Watch you own video; it will be a good tutorial to help you change your body expressions.
  • Our body stance and posture does affect our feelings. Keep the body slightly open and straight as it will help you to get into a good emotional state. We look attentive and self-reliant too. Remember in school how our teachers used to remind us to sit straight?
  • Similarly, working on our thinking, emotions and being aware of the trigger that sets our body immediately into a response would also be a wise thing to do. When we resolve those inner conflicts and are self –assured, the body just follows. And of course, we have our good old muscle memory too.

“The Limits of my Language are the Limits of my World”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein


Keep smiling