Coaching Presence – slow down to speed up

Children PlayingThe world is a busy place! We are constantly ‘on’ with our smartphone technology, even 24/7! If you work in an organization, you’re likely to be busy, busy, busy just getting work done each day.

If you work in a global company, you may be engaging with people who are starting their day just as you’re finishing your work day, and yet you have to be in contact and respond into the night. If you’re an independent contractor or small business owner, you know there’s always a lot to be done. Then there are family commitments that need attention. Plus our health and wellness…and so it goes.

Busyness as a State of Mind

There are plenty of reasons for us to ‘buy’ into the busyness mindset. So here’s a thought. What if “busyness” is more of a state of mind and not really about how much we have going on in our daily lives? What if busyness is a ‘mind state’ with other choices we could be making instead?

We all have a lot of things to take care of, yet if we coaches allow the state of mind of busyness to dictate our “Way of Being,” then that bleeds into our Coaching Presence and how we work with our clients. The ICF Core Competency of the same name states that Coaching Presence is the “ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.”

Coaching Presence is at the center of The Target Approach, because our Way of Being affects how we listen, which then affects what questions we ask our client, or what observations, comments, thoughts or feelings we share.

Busyness is the Enemy of Presence

Especially if you’re moving toward your MCC credential, a mind state of busyness is even more so your enemy because masterful coaching requires you to be fully present to the whole human being of your client. You need to engage with spaciousness and silence in order to be spontaneous and in the moment with your client. You need to be listening at a whole other level.

You need to slow down to speed up.

Here are examples of indicators a coach is engaged in busyness during a coaching session;

  • The coach hurries the client toward action, before the client has had a chance to explore, discover and reflect in order to find the best or ‘right’ action to take.
  • The coach is thinking ahead of the client and is indicated by the coach regularly interrupting the client to speak their thoughts. The coach is therefore more present to the busyness in their head than being present to their client.
  • The coach wants to share resources or tips, or something they feel is helpful to the client, when they haven’t first listened to what the client needs, versus what the coach thinks the client needs.

Stay Present, and out of Mental Busyness

By being more present in each moment, you are likely to hear more of what the client is saying, and not saying. You are more attuned to your intuitive sensing, and engaging multiple facets of yourself in your coaching. From this state of being present, you are likely to ask better questions, one’s that go to the heart of the client, to what we refer to in The Mentor Coaching Group as the “Who” of the client.

Most coaches are listening more for the What and How, and where they can add value (which usually means giving advice, suggestions or ‘helpful hints’). By listening more for vision, passion, strengths, values, as well as fears, conflicting beliefs, needs or barriers to achieving what they want, your client is likely to get far more value from your coaching.


The simplest and quickest tool I know of for a coach to get out of mental busyness is to simply notice your breathing. In just 30 seconds of consciously noticing your breath as it goes in, and goes out, will bring you back to the present. Guaranteed!

Transactional Coaching is the least effective coaching

We have to slow down and really ‘be’ with our client. You’ve probably heard of the term, “human doing.” If you are a human doing as a coach, you are not giving your client the full possibility of what coaching has to offer. Helping your client to manage more ‘stuff’ in their busy lives and to do more with greater efficiency and higher productivity, is likely missing the Source of what the client might really be seeking, which is a complete shift in the way they mentally view and approach their lives.

That’s why it’s important for us coaches to be models of presence, and spaciousness is often a key indicator of masterful coaching. The coach isn’t trying to hurry the client through a coaching process, but is instead present and listening at a deeper level.

As a mentor coach and ICF Assessor, I hear the impact the coach’s presence has on the client, and it’s not always a good one. The client may have more ‘stuff’ worked out by the end of the coaching session, but their Way of Being hasn’t changed. The coaching has been transactional and missed the transformational aspect that really makes a difference in a client’s life, whether that’s a client in the corporate environment, small business, or one of the many varieties of personal/life coaching.

Space is the highest valued commodity of our time

Someone who says they are busy, busy, busy or gives that impression, is often seen as someone who must be in demand and very valuable. Yet those people can be on the edge of burnout, with illness just around the corner as a result of doing, doing, doing. And they might not be living a satisfying life. Looks can be deceiving, as they say!

Instead of the mindset of busyness, we can bring the mindset of Spaciousness. I believe that having space in our lives is now the most highly prized commodity. When you have space, you have choices, and that feels very good indeed!

I invite you to evaluate the activities you are engaged with in all aspects of your life and determine which bucket each falls in to:

  1. Purposeful or Conscious Activities, which contribute to the quality of your life today, and building toward a better quality of life for your tomorrow.
  1. Unconscious/Avoidance Activities, which relate to avoiding handling things in your past or your present.

If you have activities in the latter, then consider what you need to do to empty that bucket.

Most importantly, consider what would need to shift in your state of mind and approach to activities in order to slow down and be more present in your whole life – every day, every moment. From experience, you will be serving your coaching clients toward even greater results that will make a significant difference in quality of their lives.


Are you preparing for your first or next ICF Credential? Or do you want to “Sharpen the Saw” of your coaching skills?

The next Group Program commences

May Group Sold Out!

Contact us if you are interested in a group commencing in September


Carly Anderson and Karen Boskemper offer an awesome mentor coaching group and individual program that has many exclusive offerings for our participants. Both have been trained by the ICF to assess using the new PCC Markers.

One of those offerings is an extensive library of MCC, PCC and ACC coaching sessions for our participants to listen to, evaluate, debrief, and learn from, along with The Target Approach to demystifying the ICF core competencies. These are incredibly valuable learning tools, and will accelerate your understanding of competency distinctions.

Here’s where you’ll find more about The Mentor Coaching Group

Carly and Karen also offer other mentoring options which you can find in the Store