Body Language is the key …

29/06/2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve trained young horses, young people and new teachers …

There’s a wealth of expertise and advice about how to get the most out of people and animals but I regularly – probably most days – can find an instance when what I say is less important than how I move.  So, in response to a twitter conversation about a naughty 8-year old behaving badly towards a 4-year old, I thought I’d pass on some tried and tested methods that I use.

These are the results of my own experiences and are a mixture of techniques acquired over 34 years of teaching young people. I started teaching evening classes when I was just 18, in an FE college and I worked full time during the day too!  I learnt fast! I’ve been teaching full time for over 20 years.

When I trained my young horses, I became fascinated by the writings and demonstrations of Monty Roberts who some of you may know as the Horse Whisperer.  I used his techniques and some of his students went on to use horse training techniques to do management training in companies.   I always used Richard Maxwell (videos when delivering Teacher Training courses).

The key is PRESSURE then RELEASE.

Pressure is for unacceptable behaviour, release is when there is the first sign of compliance.

Monty Roberts

There’s a link in the photo above which goes to a 10 minute video showing Monty working with a young horse.

People write books about this stuff, so this is very much a quick-start beginner’s guide …

Pressure Techniques:
Remain calm at all times
Square up, physically – stand shoulders square to your problem
Engage with direct eye contact
Take a step forwards
If you’re sitting down, lean forwards
Explain clearly what the problem is and give the other person or group a chance to explain themselves

Release Techniques:
Listen intently to what the other person is saying in response to you
At the first mention of compliance – sorry, I didn’t mean that etc, turn your shoulder away
Look away momentarily, or for longer if they continue to comply
Make an agreement, look at them and explain – they understand how unkind that was, they won’t behave like that again
Give praise –  ALWAYS LEAVE ON A GOOD NOTE or find something positive to say
Know when to stop – it’s best for you to finish the conversation and walk away – they’ll want to follow you!

Sometimes, if you’re not getting the right result, go round the circle again – apply Pressure then Release.

Your timing is key – watch Monty and see how he moves.  It takes practice, but it works.  Sometimes, just like the horse, people will actually take a step backwards from you because they feel uncomfortable with the pressure you’re applying. Similarly, if you give off the right vibes, people will come to you, knowing that you’re calm and considerate.

Hope it helps – it’s just my way of coping and dealing with animals & people!  Works wonders on the duck!

Flora doing Join Up!Flora doing ‘join-up’ in the garden!  This stuff is basic animal behaviour – watch your animals and see how they apply pressure to you – it’ll be direct and they’ll look right at you.  If you scold, they won’t look you in the eye.

Like the old saying – it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!

Good luck






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