Having a conversation with a coach for the first time can be a stressful experience. But, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. In order to understand what the four techniques in the article are going to enhance, you have to understand what your end goal is with meeting a coach for the first time. It should be understood that using these techniques correctly and naturally will enhance your experience. However, if you don’t practice these techniques and try to implement them awkwardly, it will make for a horrible experience.
Don’t use these techniques to deceive a coach either. Eventually, your natural self is going to come out and the person on the other side of the conversation will realize that you’re not being genuine at all.
In order to give yourself the best experience possible meeting a coach for the first time, you need to understand that your body language and your listening skills are the two most important things to an engaging conversation.
Here are four ways to make a coach like you right from the first time that you meet with them:
1Share Their Energy Level
Every coach has a unique personality and mannerisms that make up the world that they see around them. If they’re energetic, they’re upbeat. If they’re calm, they’re calculated.
The first thing that you need to do is ask yourself what your energy level is. If you’re an athlete that doesn’t know what type of energy you have, then you need review in your mind what your last five deep conversations were like.
How was your energy level in those meaningful conversations? Were you upbeat and energetic, or were you calm and focused?
Upbeat and energetic people, for example, have the tendency to relate well with people that have engaging conversations. They’re more extroverted and feel extremely comfortable being the center of attention or sharing a conversation with someone who bounces back and forth with them.
Calm and focused people are usually “thinkers”. They like to feel out conversations and process the information they’re receiving during a conversation. These types of athletes like to engage in deep, thought provoking conversations that allow them to create a relationship on a deeper level.
You may find that you are a mixture of the two, which is absolutely fine. If you are, you’re the type of person that likes to connect with everyone you come in contact with, meaning you try to adapt your personality to have a meaningful conversation with people.
2Share Their Mannerisms
A coach’s mannerisms and language, much like their energy, gives you insight into what types of conversations they enjoy internally. If you have the ability to pick up on their mannerisms and match their energy, they will see you as someone who listens and understands what they’re communicating.
Body language is very important to coaches. To pick up on their mannerisms, ask yourself: Are they facing me when they’re speaking with me? Are their arms crossed or in their pockets? Are they laid back and relaxed or are they tense in their shoulders and speaking with their hands a lot?
In most situations, a coach will disguise how they truly feel internally because just like you, they’re trying to make a good first impression. Although you may not know it, this gives you an advantage as an athlete. You can actually match their mannerisms and make the conversation feel natural, which communicates to the coach that you are listening and understand where they are coming from.
How do you match mannerisms?
If they like to talk with their hands, for example, you can throw in a hand gesture every once in a while during the conversation to show that you’re alike. If they have a powerful posture like a peacock, you can show that you are a strong communicator, just like them, by making sure that your posture and stance is in a strong position when they’re speaking to you.
Finally, ask yourself about the tone and volume of their voice. Is the coach extremely loud when they speak or are they soft spoken? Is it a quiet, confident tone that projects a sense of understanding who they are? Whatever it is, you need to try your best to match it ON YOUR LEVEL, without “one-upping” them. You’re not trying to make it a competition.
3Connect With Sharing Common Experiences
It’s pretty much basic behavioral science that we like to engage with people who are similar to us. We like to engage with people whom we can trust and whom we feel understands who we are as a person and where we have been in our lives. The term “They just understand me” is used by people quite a bit because as people, we like to engage with people whom we feel “get us”.
The same will go for when you meet with coaches. Whether you believe it or not, how that coach “makes you feel” will play a huge factor in your decision to play for that coach. You need to do everything in your power to understand and relate with the experiences that coaches share with you so that you can connect with them on a deeper level, which in turn allows you to make a more educated decision.
Without coming across as fake, you need to listen – not hear – when a coach tells you a story and then try to relate that to any experience that you may have had in life. From there, you don’t want that topic to end either. You want to dive deeper on that by asking a question back after you’ve related, causing the coach to go back on your point even deeper.
If you do this correctly, you won’t have to worry about sounding dumb and being the one who is doing all of the talking. An example would be the coach telling you a story about their team overcoming adversity last season, and you replying “We had to overcome some adversity last season with (example). It was tough, but I learned a lot about myself and my teammates by working together to get over that hurdle.” Then, you end it with a question to send it back to the coach, like “How do you think that adversity played a role in how your team played the rest of the season?”
This puts the conversation back to the coach, where they will dive deeper because it gives them a chance to tell you about their coaching philosophy, values, and character. Which, if you’re not aware, coaches love to do. As you learn more and more, you can ask questions and throw in your experiences to allow the conversation to go deeper and deeper.
4Relax and Enjoy The Conversation
Lastly, just relax and enjoy the meeting. It’s natural to be nervous. The coach isn’t grading you on your nervousness because they expect you to have some nerves in speaking with them for the first time. It shows that you want to make a good first impression and that you’re interested in doing well because you want to be a part of their program.
All you have to do is be yourself and remember that your number one goal is that you connect with them. If they like to talk about the future a lot, then share your thoughts on your excitement about your future. If they’re always telling stories about their team in a calm manner with some deep thought, then try to connect with their energy and meet them on a deeper level.
The most important thing to remember is that you come off as an authentic athlete. Don’t try too hard. Let the conversation flow, be who you are, and enjoy the experience of getting to know the coach. Lastly, remember that these are tips to help you grow deeper relationships with the people you’re trying to connect with in your life. Make sure you practice them on a daily basis so that you’re ready to go when you meet someone for the first time.
If you want to truly master the art of the conversation and become a great communicator, there is no better book out there than Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends & Influence People. And, if you prefer audiobooks for those long drives, you can pick up Carnegie’s book for free today with a 30-day trial of Audible.