How well do you breathe? While it may sound like an odd question, it’s actually essential in determining how well you communicate.
Having coached clients since 1994, it’s more and more common for me to hear clients complain about how they sound. What surprises them is when we turn our attention to their breathing. Naturally, they already know how to breathe and have been managing just fine…or have they?
When I conduct workshops as well as when I coach clients privately, I ask them to take a deep breath so I can watch them in action. What I typically observe is a clear case of shallow breathing. You’ll know if this applies to you by observing yourself in the mirror as you take in a deep breath. If it’s obvious that the majority of movement is in your clavicle (collar bone) and chest, then there’s a good chance that you’re probably a shallow breather. This means you’re expending unnecessary energy lifting your rib cage each time you inhale deeply. Unfortunately, when you do this, you’re limiting the air intake to your lungs. As a result you’ll run out of air quickly or you may feel short of breath or fatigued when speaking.
So what’s the best way to breathe and avoid this dilemma? It’s referred to as either diaphragmatic or mid-section breathing. This means that we lower our diaphragm (dome-shaped muscle located between your rib cage and your abdomen) when we inhale and then allow the diaphragm to rise or return to its resting position when we exhale. In fact, when we were infants we did this quite naturally. However, over time due to stress, fear, and frenetic schedules we replace this efficient breathing with more shallow and inefficient breathing. You may even notice that you occasionally hold your breath!
When I work with my clients I provide feedback about how they’re breathing. After that I model how to modify their breathing habits and also give them exercises to work on independently. The result? They adjust their breathing patterns so they have more control over their volume, rate and intonation. Ultimately, they become confident in how they sound.
You can do the same…call or contact me now to benefit from the beauty of the breath! Let’s ensure you always sound your best.