Gasping at success: Proper breathing crucial to auctioneers

Having trouble with confidence? Check your breathing.

By Nancy Hull Rigdon, contributor

Tim Luke has discovered the key to Auctioneers’ confidence, and it is surprisingly simple: breathing.

“Proper breathing is the root of successful behavior,” Luke, CAI, BAS, MPPA, says.

He began emphasizing the science-based conclusion in his Interpersonal Communications for Auction Professionals class as a result of his observations.

“I was watching people in the IAC or state competitions compete and noticed that they were gasping for air. Or, when I was teaching GPPA, people would come in front of the class and immediately stop breathing when it was time to introduce themselves,” Luke says.
As he discussed the issue with other Auctioneers, he realized that proper breathing training and awareness of breathing was lacking, so he combined the science with his background as a trained professional singer as well as his experience with yoga to incorporate breathing instruction into his class – it will be offered at Conference & Show in July and Designation Academy in December.  In turn, class attendees often consider the lesson a game-changer. For instance, auctioneer Stephanie Huisman says that the breathing portion of Luke’s class has been critical to her focus and public speaking capabilities. After spending 12 years in auto auctions, she now rings for Bobby D. Ehlert’s charity auctions in Phoenix, Arizona.

“If you knew me years ago, you would not think I am the person doing that now,” she says. “But after taking Tim’s class and going through the breathing instruction, I can now stand in front of a group of people and speak with confidence,” Huisman says.

Luke boils down the research behind it all.

“Breathing calms the nerves, and calming your nerves leads to confidence – it’s that simple. And once you have confidence, you can get past yourself, trust yourself, center yourself and put your best self forward and be more effective in your communications.” he says. “We think confidence and success are tied to all these things, but really, to address the root of the issue, we simply need to trust and follow the science on breathing.”

He explains the physiology: Proper breathing lowers cortisol – the stress hormone – and increases testosterone, which is the hormone tied to confidence. And when the hormones don’t follow those directions, an adverse chain reaction ensues.

“When your breathing is cut off, the nerves kick in, you get dry mouth and sweaty palms, your brain gets fogged, and you can’t think,” Luke explains. “Just as proper breathing can lead to success, not breathing has major implications. The results are just as major if you are or aren’t breathing.”

During Luke’s class, attendees participate in breathing exercises and practice proper breathing. It’s common for people to assume they are breathing correctly, when in reality, they are not, Luke has found. For example, chest breathing, which creates shallow breathing, doesn’t supply the body with enough oxygen. Low, deep breathing from the belly is the most effective for reducing stress.

“In auction school, we’re always told to breathe from our diaphragm, but there can be a disconnect between hearing that and understanding what it means in practice,” Luke says.

Also, as science tells us, nose-breathing is better than mouth-breathing.

“The mouth is for eating, and the nose is for breathing,” he says.

He emphasizes breathing’s effect on crucial bodily functions. Breathing allows lungs to work with the heart as it feeds the brain, and muscles need oxygen to work. Proper breathing can bring down blood pressure and improve digestion and relaxation.

“This simple thing is very powerful,” Luke says.

It’s important to pay attention to your breathing, Luke stresses. In his class, after attendees perform breathing exercises, they monitor how many breaths they take in a minute and how long they can sustain a phrase.

This awareness then plays out in situations such as selling, conversing with co-workers and communicating in personal relationships.

“If in what could potentially be a stressful situation, you can remind yourself to pause and take a deep breath, that can go a long way, and you’ll be about to truly listen and respond well,” he says. If you can stop and back up to the root of the problem and pause to remember that the best way to battle nerves is through breathing, that’s probably the best secret weapon for confidence.”