Being Present Isn’t Easy

Meerkats watchingWithout a doubt, one of the key coaching competencies is Coaching Presence. It is the center of the target in The Target Approach methodology I’ve created of how the ICF core competencies work in real life.

There are two parts to Coaching Presence; knowing and using a coaching process, and being fully present in every moment that you are coaching. The latter can be tricky for most of us to sustain for periods of time.

Being present is a moment by moment occurrence, and requires us to simultaneously be attentive to the client, as well as being present and paying attention to our inner thoughts, intuitions and gut responses. What we are sensing or getting intuitively may be very important information to be able to articulate in the form of a question, message, or observation. The client can often benefit enormously when the coach offers their reflections, or when the coach hears incongruences in what the client says.

We often become disconnected from our intuitive knowing. It starts early, including in the school environment where we get the message that being the quickest one with the answer means you are the smarter kid. But this is false as some kids are smart but just not quick to speak up. They are more reflective and need time to consider their response – to ‘feel’ into it. But the message we are left with is that if you’re smart then you’ll get the answer faster than anyone else. Yet as a coach, being ahead and having the answer is detrimental to our client.

The good news is we can develop this perceptive muscle. Simply stop and notice in any moment what you are feeling or sensing inside yourself, as well as being present to what you are noticing happening with your client. And trust your gut when it says that you need to say something to the client, even if it feels risky. You’re noticing incongruences in what the client says, or what they then do, and especially when there are apparent values conflicts they don’t notice.

Here are some examples of how you might express your perceptions;

“I heard you hesitate before you responded. What was occurring?”

“When you mentioned your colleague, I noticed a change in your voice and your energy seemed to go down. What was your experience?”

“It sounds as if you’re disappointed with the outcome and I can certainly understand that. Yet at the same time you seem very proud of what you accomplished.” What are your thoughts on this?

“I get that you want to move on from being upset with your colleague. I ask that you reflect on whether you need to have a further conversation with your colleague, or if you can truly move on and work with him without resentment.”



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