It was an interesting time when I was younger, coaching the young girls in badminton at the high school where my daughter attended. The highlight for me, not surprisingly the greatest time of growth for all of us there, was in response to a concept I outlined as a strategy to improve the game and competence each girl displayed. The strategy was simply; to listen to the sounds our feet make. Ideally I was talking about one’s own feet and recognising how this expressed the level of both confidence and skill which was being expressed as one played the game however, we had to start somewhere and my suggestions went in this order:
- Listen to ‘my’ feet (as I play)
- Listen to ‘their’ feet (as they play)
- Listen to ‘your’ feet (as you play)
In the first two instances it was possible to listen and watch. This is more modal allowing for a more intense learning opportunity. The reactions to the idea met with some resistance and laughter and skepticism. But shortly thereafter, curiosity and wonder. And the results of our forays into this particular strategy opened minds, minimised limitations, and paved way for increasing agility and control.
Have you ever listened to the feet of an anxious person? They shuffle deliberately back and forth back and forth. My pod buddy questions how I know how she is feeling when I make comment about her angst without even looking up from my desk to see her. I tell her it’s in her feet but she doesn’t believe me. I must admit, to the uninitiated, it’s an odd concept.
We talk about assertiveness and where it lay roughly between what we might call aggression and non-assertiveness or passivity. Have you ever met someone who is overly and/or predominantly passive? Always on the back foot and ready to apologise in the next moment for anything and everything? Not to be confused with humility, it is instead, a lack of self-assurance. Have you ever listened to their feet? A passive person drags their feet moving almost reluctantly and certainly with over-caution as if they might interrupt someone or run into them or appear when they apparently shouldn’t.
Almost in-arguably, it lives in the realm of subconscious. Probably expected though, given that our body language sits same and that’s why lying is spotted most accurately through this communicative mode. I have in fact, listened to people walking almost without tell-tale signs navigating through their general day without challenge or fear only to hear them then, walk into a pod and approach someone for a conversation or request. That’s when the dragging begins! It’s amazing.
There are people who display general arrogance or express large egos by comparison at the other end of the proverbial scale. They tend to lean forward through fear and so, their feet sound heavy. Their feet are a little behind and they are constantly fighting their own balance therefore, have to plant their feet to establish a solid platform while leaning forward. You always hear these ‘big’ personalities coming (or leaving), and their feet rarely change sounds during any given life period. When these people are female they tend to wear the highest of high heels. Regardless of what appears to be a painful and difficult balance to onlookers, these heels maintain the awkward angle just enough so that the inward lean can be maintained without fear of submission (or surrender). It’s incredible! Interestingly, albeit with a smaller “footprint”, the high heels still express the characteristic plant!
Have a listen next time you get chance. I expect like me, you will find:
- Most high heel wearers do not plant but swagger and maintain a relatively usual foot sound.
- Most people do not shuffle
- Most people change their foot ‘sound’ pending their feelings and or state of mind
- Most people have no idea their feet ‘talk’
- Challenging or ‘loud’ personalities have the distinctive ‘plant’ (and aren’t usually good listeners)
God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm
It’s not rocket-science though is it? When we consider the premise of NLP (Neurolinguistic programming) and the characteristic studies over the years detailing revealing body language and predominant human traits, it makes sense every part of our body and our actions will reveal something about us. But learning can be even more fun, when we discover yet another fascinating aspect about how we act as people and in particular, checking it out against our fellow travelers just to be sure!
Certainly, I maintained a similar poise in my position as coach, “It’s not so silly, when you think about it” I stated. A great player leads and swoops. They can cover the court from ‘home base’ with no more than two steps sideways, forwards, or back. And their touch will be poetic – light, bouncy, and deliberately transitional. Compare this with either an amateur or a beginner and, through no lack of trying, they will sound heavy, complicated, confused, clumsy, and noisy all at once. There will be many many steps and sometimes more than seems possible in the allocated space. There will be dragging sounds, and there will be squeals and scrapes. Perhaps in life too, you can learn a lot about a player and about playing, by closing your eyes, calming your mind and:
Til next time