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Communication is King, Here’s How To Improve It with Clients

I think a lot about communication.

As a coach, being able to communicate instructions to clients is of primary importance. As a coach, being able to listen is of even more primary importance (primarier??)

It holds true as a Dad and Husband too, but that’s another blog post….

I heard a great quote the other day while out walking the dog and listening to the Blindboy podcast.

If you don’t know who Blindboy is, he’s one half of an Irish comedy act called the Rubber Bandits, famous for their songs, for wearing plastic bags on their heads, and in Blindboy’s case, being a very surprising voice of reason on some deep topics.

Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubber Bandits

In this episode he says, “Good communication lies in the ear of the receiver, you have to talk at their level in a way they understand”

Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist. And I also know he’s not the first to say this, but it was him that set off this thought process.

I, like most trainers and coaches have a variety of people coming to me. And by variety, I’m talking not just in interests, but origins. My female BJJ player from Italy sees the world differently to my Irish male rock climber. He in turn see’s the world differently from the Polish wrestler who sees it differently from the IT guy or the Solicitor.

Different cultures, both from where they grew up, and the environment they spend most time in.

I’m sure you’ve experienced just this when telling a joke, some people laugh, some don’t get it and some think it’s simply unfunny. Is it the joke, or is it, in the words of comedian Frank Carson, “the way I tell em”

Lets take a very common gym cue: Chest Up

Go to any gym anywhere and you’ll hear this. Especially at the squat rack. Or from the Kettlebell coach teaching swings.

Backswing – don’t let the chest sink!

I’ve used this cue for years, but some just don’t get it. For them “Shoulders back” gets a better response.

But you know what works across the board?

“Tit’s out, arse out!”

Yes, it’s crude, but that is it’s charm.

There is NO misinterpretation. Everyone knows what it means. And it catches the attention far better than “chest up” at least in the early stages of training until the person has acclimatised to the common language of the gym.

If we think back to my last blog post on FEAR, aka the Nocebo effect (as one of my lads mentioned to me yesterday after reading that blog). Nocebo, in a negative manner, is clear example of poor communication. It’s often the expert using expert language, language that is alien and possibly frightening to the client.

How to we circumnavigate this problem?

1: we don’t use words like “circumnavigate”, instead we say “get around”

2: Listen. If good comms is in the ear of the receiver, then BE the receiver. This give you time and opportunity to pick on language use, speech patterns, body language, tone, speed of conversation. It allows you time to receive the verbal and non verbal cues that can aid you to steer the rest of the session. By the way, this also what I used to teach when I was teaching self defence, as creating some form of empathy through mirroring the bad guys traits can often buy you more time to diffuse or escape a threat.

It’s no different on the training floor or the clinic.





Put your ego and needs aside, let theirs take front and centre.

“But Dave, your ego is fucking massive!!”

Fair point, I know. And it’s a battle not letting my egeo and want to show off get the better of me. It took me years to get the hang of it. Now, I like to let me ego shine by steering people to answer their own questions, create their own solutions and become independent. My ego gets massaged everytime I take a complex concept and explain in it in a way that my 7yr old son would understand.

One more time:

Good comms is in the ear of the receiver.

If the person you are working with does not understand what you are saying, you may as well have not said it.

Now, after all that, come and test MY communication ability by attending one (or both) of the two upcoming workshops. The details are right here:


Dave Hedges

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