Driving Body Language Observation

A recent conversation:

A:           “What are you doing”

B:           “I’m stopping.”

A:           “Here? You can’t see if anyone is coming.”

B:           “But it is behind the line. I have to stop behind the line.”

A:           “This is really how you have to do this? No one does this. You stop where you can see.”


My son, “B,” is learning to drive.

Nothing miraculous here. I am going through the terror, confusion and driving conversations of every parent before me! I sit in my passenger seat wondering how anyone survives sitting through seemingly endless hours to get to 50 before the test.

Why is this blog-worthy? In my hours of sitting, I have realized many correlations between learning to drive and body language observation and communication skills. If you have never taught someone to drive, think back to how you felt the first few times behind the wheel. If you are going through it with me, I am here for you! See what rings true for you.


1. Learning a new skill takes time.

On the one hand, reaching 50 hours of driving time feels like an eternity. Yet on the other hand, we let people drive a car (which can kill people) after only 50 hours of time?! Remember the time it takes anyone to learn a new skill and do it well. We shouldn’t expect our leadership and sales teams to be great on new software, new talking points or new initiatives right away. When I teach how to observe and interpret subconscious behavior, I have to remind clients they are learning a new language- body language! They must set aside the time to learn and practice this new skill.


2. Body language observation is like driving on the highway.

My last blog discussed how communication is like a 4 lane highway. There is a big difference for new drivers between simple neighborhood streets and driving on the highway. My son was completely exhausted after his first 30 minutes navigating Chicago highways because of the mental energy, nervous tension and heightened senses. Speaking and observing at the same time can be similar. There is so much information coming in, it is easy to become fatigued. Just like driving long distances, we must take some breaks and rest during long periods of body language observation.


3. Obey speed limits

It is perhaps one of the most trying aspects of sitting alongside my new driver. Speed limits! The lesson here is to remember to be patient. It is very easy to grab the computer mouse, demonstrate, or simply do something yourself rather than take the time to slow down a bit while someone is learning. It is very easy for us to be overly critical and shout out instructions which is never helpful. (Ignore all the annoyed drivers zipping around you for going too slow!)


4. Night driving and weather driving

Extreme conditions! Each driving student is encouraged to drive in adverse conditions and at night because it is more difficult to see and maybe we need more space between cars when it is slippery. When conditions aren’t ideal, we must rely more on our training and experience to get us through. We all have our memories of scary driving when we couldn’t see, had no traction or were simply super stressed behind the wheel. We may not drive as well under stress and also  may not communicate as well under stress. Ironically, when we are stressed is when we need to be looking up and paying MORE ATTENTION to others and the nonverbal signals they are sending. Unfortunately, deadlines, personal agendas or other things can stress us out and we may tend to “bury our heads” and rely more on our habits which may not be communicating most effectively. We become less attuned to the signals of others when we need to be using both verbal and nonverbal signals even more.


5. Take the plunge and learn something new!

Obviously, I want you to take on learning a new language—body language! But if it is learning a new social media platform, how to crotchet, or how to speak Russian, remember that everyone has to face their fears or other objections and give it a try. Turn the key and start your engine!

By the way, learning body language will change your life and increase your independence much like your driver’s license! When you are ready to communicate more efficiently, make more sales, present yourself with confidence and lead more effectively, call Moving Image Consulting, (630) 234-1392, and check out our on-line programs too!