Three Steps to Develop Your Coaching Presence
Are you trying too hard to be present with your client during coaching conversation? Are you the one who struggles with your mind’s thoughts popping up while you are trying to listen and understand your client?
It used to happen to me, and I was curious to find the secret of being present. I tried multiple techniques, and finally, I found what helped me being present. It can only come by practice. Well, I must say not only practice but with the mindful practice.
Before I share my experience, let me clarify the definition of coaching presence. Coaching presence is to be fully present with your client, moment-by-moment. In other words, the only thread that is running in your conscious mind should be busy listening to your coachee.
Wow, isn’t it too much to expect from your mind to concentrate only in one direction for so long? That’s what I used to feel at the beginning of my coaching conversations. However, I learned over the period by using the following techniques:
1) Self Awareness: The first step is to make a conscious effort to improve self-awareness. Self-awareness is a vast topic. Here I am talking about being self-aware of your thoughts during your coaching conversation.
Client: I want to discuss my problem of procrastination. Coach: (Thinking) Ahh, I have the same problem. blah blah blah (Saying) hmm, Tell me more about it.
Here for a moment, the coach got distracted in thinking about herself. There is nothing wrong with it. Thoughts will keep coming, but if you are aware, you can stop thinking further and get your awareness back to be with your client.
In the book Presence-Based Coaching: Cultivating Self-Generative Leaders Through Mind, Body, and Heart, Doug Silsbee explains presence as “… a state of awareness in the moment, characterized by the felt experiences of timelessness, connectedness and a larger truth.”
2) Reflection: After the coaching conversation, reflect where you got distracted during the coaching session? What were those triggers? This is different than noticing your coaching skills. Instead of reviewing what you did as a coach, review who you were as a coach. Make a note of all those and work on them.
A simple technique that I use for reflection is asking these questions:
- What do I remember from my coaching conversation?
- Did I get distracted? For how long?
- What do I understand? What is important about what I felt?
- Where could I use this learning?
- What could be done differently?
3) Clear the mental clutter: Before you start your coaching conversation, prepare your mind to clear out various thoughts, focus and refresh. It may take a few seconds to a few minutes depends on your day. One of the ways that I use is to scan all the thoughts that pop up my mind and listen to them, after looking I park them aside. After a few minutes, I feel like a clean slate ready to write my client’s story.
You may also ask your client to do the same.
Coach: "Take a few moments to gather your thoughts. Let me know once you feel ready."
You may also try meditation or mindfulness exercises to gain focus.
I hope you will find your own way of being fully present with your client and enjoy your coaching conversations.