Encouraging Body Language - Practice Makes Perfect!

Developing encouraging body language (BL) can take some practice. (Link is to Person-centred counselling: an experiential approach by David L. Rennie.) We all have our favorite stance, our “default position.” At the same time, communication is 55% body language, 38% tone and 7% words. So, remember that your client may not remember what was said, but they will remember how you made them feel.

I like the SOLERF method:

S - Squarely face person vs. sitting kitty-corner.

O - use Open posture vs. crossed arms and legs

L - Lean a little toward the person vs. settling back in your chair

E - use Eye contact vs. staring off into deep space

R - Relax, keep it natural vs. sitting like a board

F – look friendly vs. neutral or scowling

Take a look at how you are sitting right now. Hmm … arms crossed? Slumped? Bored expression? Looking offside? Not good.

In Class Homework

Encouraging / Discouraging Body Language Exercise: 10 minutes of different styles of body "speech" and 5 minutes of feedback

Speaker - Talk to the listener about an interesting incident that happened to you over the past few days.

Listener - Systematically go down the SOLERF list, first using the positive BL. And then it’s opposite.

For example, while the speaker is talking – the listener can lean a little toward the person – then slump into her/his chair. (Don’t worry if you both end up laughing.)


1. Were you more likely to feel like continuing when you received positive BL?

2. How did you feel when the listener used negative?


1. Did you notice a change in your interest level when you used positive BL?

2. Did you feel less interested in what the speaker had to say when you assumed negative?

Time to switch roles!

Out of Class Homework

Be very conscious of how you treat people vis-a-vis your body language. Watch the gestures and mannerisms of others and note how it makes you feel?

I speak two languages, Body and English! - Mae West

The Watching Cat
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