P’s and T’s of Coaching: Poise



The past two months I’ve had the opportunity to work with coaches in Washington, Oregon, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont. When we talk about our coaching toolbox, I begin with an anticipation brainstorming exercise by saying, “If there were things that needed to be in our toolbox as coaches that started with the letters P and T, what would they be?

Every time I do this, the list of wonderful words increases. Recently in Indiana, one of the coaches called out “Tompassion.” There was some laughter at the back of the group when another came forward with “tequila.” Today I’ll begin a series of some of those words so we can add to our toolboxes.

Poise is a catch-all term that by definition means grace, elegance and balance as both a noun and  verb. Leaders are poised when they make eye contact with others and lean toward them. Poise is shown by nodding, smiling and verbal tracking of conversations with sounds like “uh-huh,” “oh,” and “hmmm.” It’s also shown with our body language. When I walk into a teacher’s classroom I put my binder or notebook down so my hands are free and open. I try to layer my clothing so in a cold room I don’t look like this:

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I also try to refrain from stances like hands on hips. I know that without meaning to I can be conveying an aggressive pose.

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The research about body language is fascinating. Mirroring is one way that humans (women in particularly) build trust and acceptance quickly. It’s great to work on what we say as leaders, but it’s so important to work on how we say it with our bodies as well. Here’s a link to an article on mirroring if it interests you.

Mirroring in Body Language

I often take a deep breath before I walk into a meeting, classroom or presentation and envision what I want my eyes, smile, hands and wrinkles to say.

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“I’m open to you.

I’m curious about you.

I want to work together.”





That’s my goal for poise.

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