Watch your Language

People say that we have never been as bad at communicating as we are today, and yet we are communicating an awful LOT!

Not until, sometime between 12th and 18th of June this year, was this piece of information brought to my attention, to later investigate and analyse my linguistic habits. I was on the Stretch Therapy Teachers course where the lovely Kit Laughlin was teaching us things about stretching, and beyond. The lesson of using language to communicate was a big take home for me.

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In 2010, I was living in Halmstad, Sweden, the home city of Eleiko (you may have heard of them, they make competition barbells for Olympic Weightlifting?). I went to university in Halmstad and after 3 years I had earned my bachelor of science from HH and my personal trainer certificate from Eleiko Education. For one reason or another I found myself doing courses with American coaches; Charles Poliquin and The Poliquin Group, which made me imagine myself training people in English. I wasn’t a great English speaker at the time but I had this feeling that I was born to coach in English (To be frank, maybe this was more a part of me dreaming about marrying a big muscly man with a thick American accent? Yeah that didn’t’ happen…). Fast forward 7 years, now I’m speaking English more than I speak Swedish, and I teach fully in this language they call “Australian English”. I got me muscly Aussie man, who can do American impersonations quite well!

As I became better at speaking fluent English I became worse at communicating in both Swedish, the mother language I now started to forget, and in English. My English developed into an exaggerated, long-winded, commanding and do-it-for-me-communication:

“I want you to do split squats next”

“I think that is so bloody awesome”

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I’m sure this is not the full story of my linguistic habits, I am yet to dig deeper. What I have noticed so far, which I have come to realise by speaking to Kit and my mentor Dave Wardman, is that I tend to add redundant words like; really, very, a lot, much, freaking etc. These long-winded sentences ended up just short of the meaning or feeling I wanted to get across. However, I have realised now that they weren’t even close to getting the feeling across, the extra words made the sentence mean nothing.

Kit opened my eyes when he told me, that when coaching, the client is there for them not for you (doooh!). This means that all the times I’ve said; “Now I want you to move that knee further back…” it’s been all about me, not them. The communication should be directed to them; “Archie, move your back knee further back…”.  (Please give me a gentle slap on the head if you ever hear me say “I’d like you to…” in a coaching session ever again).

My communication has grown non-specific with zero meaning.

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One or two years ago I would’ve felt intimidated when writing and posting this blog post as I every single day was concerned about getting my message across when coaching. I have improved my use of language the last 3 months. I feel confident in my ability to further do so and I know that the intention in everything I do comes from a good place, therefore I don’t feel intimidated today.

My linguistic learnings (Ha! “Learnings” is apparently a made up word):

  1. Skip the “extra fluffy redundant” words
  2. Direct the communication to be about the client, they’re not doing it for me
  3. Slow down and allow myself to think of how to communicate before I do. This has been a big help for me.

How do you communicate? ?