How important is body language when teaching someone to drive.
I never thought that body language played such a big part in our lives especially when it’s associated with learning to drive. After fourteen years of teaching and seeing one or two learners close their eyes or put their hands in front their faces leaving me to grapple for control of the car I am beginning to see how important it is.
Our body language plays a significant part in how we express our emotions with only 7% of a persons message communicated by words, 38% by the tone of their voice and 55% through body language. By gaining eye contact and watching a learners posture, seeing if they nod in agreement or look at us with a blank expression we can tell if they understood what we said or if we need to provide more information.
We often take body language for granted and don’t really think about it, but even now whilst I am sitting on a chair in the garden with my legs crossed, scratching my face, staring blankly at the computer screen or resting my head on my hand I can see just how important it is. How we sit, move and even breath can send different messages to other people, telling them whether we are frustrated, annoyed, happy or sad.
As driving instructors we need to use as much positive body language as we can, making sure that that it mirrors what we are saying so we don’t scare or confuse our learners. Making sure that we look far enough at the road in front to spot any potential dangers whilst keeping a careful eye on which gear they are in, whether or not they are checking their mirrors at the correct time, if they signal or are using their brake when they need to. This takes a lot of concentration especially for me because my multi tasking is pretty poor.
The way we listen to our learners is equally important, making sure we gain eye contact, lean in a little, occasionally nodding when they give us a good answer as well as saying words like “good’ “mmm” and “ok”. Repeating what they have said and trying not to interrupt when they are talking. Then if we see something going wrong we can check to see if our learners have also the identified the fault and whether they can then find their own solutions.
All of us are constantly learning more about the way we listen, use our body language and set goals as well as many other things so we can help our learners to become better and safer drivers.
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