• Dr. Sharon Livingston

How to Establish Rapport with New Clients: Part 4


Alejandro Gee is a tango teacher who did his graduate thesis in psychology on the effects of tango dance on mood.

He writes, "The posture of a person is not just a position that we are supposed to stand/dance in, but also a reflection of who we are. The way we connect or the way we lead or follow are also a perfect reflection of our social, emotional and mental status. Usually 10 minutes into the class you can tell more about a person's character or the relationship within a couple than you could after talking. This is why tango has the capacity to heal issues that we are or not aware of. By fixing the physical, the mind and emotions will follow. Or we will want to heal the mind and the emotions in order to be able to improve our dancing."

I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve learned about myself and others, by practicing Tango. The dynamics are right there. It’s like a revealing snapshot of how we’ve all related to others, I’m sure if I was his student Gee would shoot me a knowing look, picking up on what I’ve revealed about myself in his class, in just a few moments. It’s almost embarrassing to know that I’m that transparent. But, actually, we all are. And that’s great news for coaches.

I consider myself a strong woman, independent, successful, sociable, positive. I’m malleable as a follower yet able to take the lead, indirectly suggesting a change of course or directly if necessary to move us out of harms way. Knowing how to Pivot in Tango is key to both leading and following.

In life as in Tango we need to be able to change direction with ease and grace. Tango incorporates what they call the Pivot to allow us to move quickly into another direction or posture. And it looks exciting and beautiful. The quick move, elegantly articulated is surprising and engaging to watch.

Being able to pivot is particularly important for us as Coach. In Tango, when you pivot, you change direction while remaining on your axis.

Life can throw us curve balls, and clients invariably do. Sometimes we need to be able to change course in a flash, spin on a dime, making it look seamless, as if that’s what we always intended. We need to be in alignment and steady in our core and then smartly pivot to help maintain the clients’ sense of trust in our support and ability to help them towards their goals.


What if the client decides the goal you’ve been helping with is just wrong and all the work you’ve done over the past months won’t help with what they really want to do?

What if the client was working with you on an expected promotion that had new skills. Came to you to polish and fine tune, but then received an email notice on Saturday with a dismissal notice.

The key to pivoting is to be able to change directions while remaining on your axis. In coaching this translates to helping the client change directions but only if they remain true to their wants, needs and value. To help them, you need to accept the new turn in the road, pivot and help them pivot too.

How do you stay in alignment so you can spin, pivot on a second’s notice? It takes practice, just as it does in dance or sports. It’s about having belief in your physical core for Tango and your emotional core for Coaching. It’s valuing yourself, your training, your expertise, knowing your worth. It’s recognizing who you are, where you start and where you can go so you can confidently move into a different position with your base and self esteem intact. It’s modeling new behaviors and attitudes for your client. It’s allowing your creativity and flexibility to create the next move for both you and your client.