Yesterday, I decided to switch-off my social media PRESENCE, i.e. no participation in any of my online social platforms as a social experiment for myself. It took a whole lot of effort not to be curious of what’s that new filter that Instagram came up, it took some discipline not to scroll LinkedIn for that latest article / tips and it took tonnes of mindfulness not to check the CCC Facebook Group to comment on the latest blogs from my fellow compadres. After a while, I discovered some purported space for other thoughts and ideas. I managed to squeeze in 2 visualization sessions for the day, jotted down some new morning strategies, and coaxed my sons into taking up some chores without drama. Most importantly, I was able to have more focus, observe expression, and a lesser frenzied need to reach for my devices every hour. That’s for me personally, working on PRESENCE.
This competency is a challenging one, especially following COVID-19, in this New Norm. The lines between work, family and personal times has become fuzzy, that we allow others dictate and govern what we truly need to manage in our day. We move from one call to another, one Zoom session to another, and I sense though many are ONLY just physically present, if their videos are on. Zoom Fatigue could be a new psychological disease soon!
So what is PRESENCE in Coaching? More accurately, what about MAINTAINS PRESENCE?
In the PDF of this core competency, Coach Mel writes about
The power in our coaching will be in the ability to be in the Present with Presence– to be able to meet all that is occurring with openness, intuition and intelligence: ‘it is the capacity to meet experience fully and directly without filtering it through any conceptual or strategic agenda’Mel Leow, Coaching Presence CCC, Copyright© Catalyst 2017
This quite sums up this core competency in being with the client, letting go, staying in the flow and stillness yet deep focus in the moment, with the situation, non-judging. We tend to digress, we tend to wander, we tend to be multi-present (caught this term on the video!), in our attempt to be the productive, effective coaches.
How then do we not only BE PRESENT, but also MAINTAIN PRESENCE as a COACH? The busier we are, the more important it is the need to ensure presence throughout the coaching session, to build the endurance and stamina of presence, and patience to hold critical moments within the session.
As the 4th ICF Core Competency, MAINTAINS PRESENCE is defined as : Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded
The ICF further describes this into 6 main sub-competencies that encompasses the outreach to the client, the mood of the process, and the readiness of the coach.
- Remains focused, observant, empathetic and responsive to the client
- Checking for all the verbal, non-verbal cues.
- Looking for hidden meaning of words used.
- Demonstrates curiosity during the coaching process
- Asking questions to clarify
- Affirming strengths and flexibility to go deeper
- Manages one’s emotions to stay present with the client
- Embodying the coaching mindset
- It’s all about the client
- Demonstrates confidence in working with strong client emotions during the coaching process
- Knowing when to push the boundaries and to allow for emotional release
- Is comfortable working in a space of not knowing
- Allowing for sensible vulnerability of the coach
- Creates or allows space for silence, pause or reflection
- Awareness and insights could be emerging
I believe all of us knows and understands this. The challenge is how can we BE this?
As stated, preparation is key. Practice is vital. Consciously believing that we have the openness to offer our clients, trusting in our own intuition and leveraging on our intelligence to guide us during the coaching sessions, will help us to BE in the moment, rather than worrying about our inner voices (e.g. maybe I should ask this? how can he think like that? what’s for lunch after?)
So how do we switch gears from the frantic world (stuck in traffic, looking for the Zoom ID) or coming out of a tough session with another client and jumping into another coaching session, or even just finishing up your chores before starting, AND try to be all that you can be as a GREAT coach?
I came across this blog – BEING PRESENT MINDSET, which shares about building the 5 mental capabilities as habits will help us to multiply the results of PRESENCE in our daily activities, thus strengthening our ability to MAINTAIN PRESENCE during our coaching sessions. What do you think of it?
Embedding and embodying the coaching competencies into our daily lives and habits, will help to empower us as coaches and enable us to coach almost like second nature. That’s where the magic happens.