Key Takeaways:

  • Dealing with Body-Language

Slumped shoulders. Clenched fists. Engaged eye-contact or head nods during conversation.

All of the above can be considered either subtle cues of confirmation or possible confrontation indirectly communicated through body language. For many coaches, these actions speak louder than words. From Negotiating 101 author Peter Sander mentions how, “55 percent of what is actually communicated comes from body language, 38 percent is from tone of voice, and 7 percent is from what is actually said.” If this were believed to be true, then over half of our conversations absorb content based on non-verbal interactions. At that rate, are we merely guessing what our players are trying to communicate?

Each interaction during a negotiation can help uncover true feelings, hidden agendas, or consequently lead to misinterpretations. For this #BookClub post I’ll share a story from personal experience to allow coaches to digest and consider what their reactions would be if in a similar situation. This does leave an open interpretation to how coachable I may have been during my playing days.

Towards the end of my time playing hoops I had formed a habit of taking off my practice jersey at the completion of practice when our coaching staff brought us all in for the final conversation. Not sure when I had started doing this, but at some point I did become aware of it to the point where it just became a routine: practice ends after the final whistle where I proceeded to take my jersey off over my head and throw it behind my neck like a towel.

During the season, I had requested a meeting with the coaching staff to discuss playing time and feedback to earn more clock. Part of the response mentioned a concern for my body language demonstrated after each practice that reflected a lack of leadership and engagement to the team. At the time, I disagreed with the interpretation and acknowledged that the habit had become merely a routine out of comfort. In hindsight – as a coach – I could see how being the only person to do that day-in and day-out could be seen as a distraction, attention-seeking, and possibly a negative influence to the rest of my teammates. Based on the reading, the question is if over half of our conversations are believed to be communicated by body language, is that a fair representation of what we truly mean or are we too reliant on reaction over verbal response?

These are the type of daily negotiations we may have during the season, to come to an agreement of the following details that can lead to a win-win for players and coaches:

  • Buy-In
  • Effort
  • Player Discipline
  • Scheme Retention or Concept Comprehension
  • Value Added
  • Program Representation

More could likely be added to this list; each attribute is subconsciously met through an arrangement of practice planning, verbal reinforcement, or possible reprimand. Therefore, is body-language a reliable source while seeking an optimal understanding for what it takes to reach our best results?

As we come to an end of our #BookClub from Negotiating 101 we’ll look to cover making an offer and finalizing an agreement. From a coaching perspective this will pair up with pressure involved in negotiations and focusing on developing relationships through trust.

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