A Personal Trainer at our club just left. He quit and, after 3 years personal training, decided to change careers. He is now back in school trying to figure out his life.

Why did he fail as a trainer? He was educated and passionate. He walked the walk and talked the talk.

He kept a closed stance with clients, he slouched, he touched his face often when trying to make a sale. It became impossible for him to create relationships quickly enough to keep a client. As trainers, we don't have much time to sell. Usually 1-2hrs and if we don't make a connection quick we may never see that client again.

That is why you are reading this, that, and a belief that the human body can give you hints towards it.  In case you weren't certain of the value in reading further, understand this: 7% efficacy or 93%.  Take passionate control of your body language and vocal control, or miss out on 93% of your communication.

This article is the first of a series of articles about the art of body language, mechanics and appearance and how they relate to success.  From relationship building to movement improvement to sales and beyond it all starts with the language of movement, understanding your own and being able to observe others; and the ability to succeed at another level entirely.

Why Body Language?

The body tells us many things if we practice where to look.  Likewise, our profession can lead to great personal and financial success if you treat it like practice.  Success is a practice but there is no one action that will make you universally successful.  That being said, here are some steadfast tips to get you on your way to more successfully navigating body language and getting used to the feel of body language and movement.

If your body language is anything other than consistent with a firm belief in what you are saying (read back to my first article for the PTDC about passion), 55% of what is said will be believed based on facial expressions, 38% on tone of voice and only 7% on the actual content (Mehrabian, Silent Message, 1981).  In other words, Visual impact and Vocal impact make up 93% of the message, leaving you just a 7% chance of success if you don't have a great feel for your own body.

Effective Body Language 101

So, the take home for this article before we get into the subtleties of body language is GET A FEEL FOR YOUR OWN!  Understanding how you move and feel is key to your success and as a bonus, here are some other quick tips about your appearance and the feel you give out to the world.

Think of your body language, posture and appearance and the 7 seconds you have to make an impression.  Think of how fast your existing clients can pick up on your lack of sleep or an illness creeping in!  Even existing clients, superiors and colleagues continuously judge you on your appearance (Cash, 1990).  Do you look competent, trustworthy, caring, confident or is your visual message keeping you from reaching your goals? Remember that your appearance is not vanity, it shows others how you care for yourself, value yourself and hence them.  Thourlby's research (1978) indicates that appearance as a first impression can impact choosing your services more than actual competency!

Spend the next couple weeks focusing on presenting yourself and your communications keeping the following things in mind.  The next article in the series will go into greater strategic depth, but lets start with the basics:

What to Focus On?

The 4 main areas to focus on are the Eyes, the Face, the Arms and Torso and the Legs:

1. a) Eye Contact and Brow movement: Positive Signals

·  Direct Eye contact says there is positive interest in you and the topic

·  Smiling eyes with a relaxed brow says comfort

b) Eye Contact and Brow movement: Negative Signals

·  Limited to no Eye contact says perhaps lying or at least a lack of interest, or that they are too confined, uncomfortable or distracted

·  Tension in brow indicates confusion, tension and even fear

NB: A person will look away due to normal distraction or due to an inability to tell you their honest feelings. Also, a person will look away if you are invading their personal space, which can be different for different people in their lives (so don't take offense, just move a little and observe!)

2. Facial Gestures: Focus on the mouth:

·  General Positive: upward turn at the corner of the mouth

·  General Negative: flat or downward turn, pressed together

3. Arm and Torso Movements: Open vs. Closed

Closed-Off Posture:

·  Shoulders hunched forward: Lack interest or feel inferior

·  Rigid Body posture: anxious, uptight

·  Crossed arms: Cold literally or, protecting the body

·  Tapping fingers: agitated, anxious, bored

·  Fidgeting with hands or objects: bored or has something to say... so ask them!!

NB: If you see these signs, don't judge yourself or them, break and see what the other person is thinking

Open Posture:

·  Leaning forward: interested

·  Fingers interlocked and placed behind head or leaving elbows and armpits exposed indicates that they are very open to ideas, comfortable

·  Mirroring you says that they like you and want to be friendly (not the 'copying me' game, but you get the idea)

·  Still posture says that they are more interested in what you are saying than anything else going on, GREAT!

4. Leg Activity: Observe closely with arm/torso to understand this better

·  Generally negative is fidgety movements, bouncy crossed is anxiety often for example

·  Bouncy legs with crossed arms and slumped torso is a further indication of a closed-off attitude

Step outside your conversation and work to observe both sides of your communication situation, when in doubt, mirroring the other person is a great way to enhance rapport and trust... more on this and other strategies in the next article!!