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Develop coaching presence

According to the International Coaching Federation, coaching presence is defined as the "ability to be fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident."  Few coaches do this consistently, where they:
  • connect with the whole of the client.
  • are guided by their natural curiosity.
  • are free of the need to perform or provide value.
  • come from a place of not knowing.
  • set aside one's ego and are mindful of their clients' wisdom.

It's often hard for coaches to remain undistracted by the past or future, or by one's own personal needs. When we are fully present and focused on the needs and possibilities of our clients, we create conditions that invite insight, expanded awareness, creativity, confidence, and agency; all of which help clients grow, find solutions, and take action.

If we are to ask the right questions at just the right times, then we must learn to let go of:
  • the need to advise.
  • the need solve or fix people's problems.
  • the need to teach our clients new truths or tips.
  • the need to control our client's assumptions, attitudes, approaches and actions.

  1. What are your strategies for maintaining presence in a coaching relationship?
  2. How do YOU get in the way of facilitating a client's growth? 

                      “Don’t just do something, stand there!” (Buddhist saying)
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Kate - February 10th, 2021 at 12:33pm

I am naturally able be present with people but get tripped on the need to provide value/perform. I'm often worried that I'm going to disappoint someone which stresses me out. I can imagine writing on the top of a piece of paper that I look at during coaching something like "All you need to do is BE CURIOUS".

I can imagine that my desire to want to make people happy could lead me to help bring them to a plan, solution, or resolution too early shortchanging them on what the process might offer and the growth that could come from working through something themselves rather than quickly facilitating them to resolution. Again my need to perform may get in the way and I'll need to be mindful of that.

Mike Marsh - February 10th, 2021 at 4:14pm

Some of my strategies for maintaining coaching presence are mechanical or environmental:

1. The seating arrangement,

2. My posture,

3. A quiet office or room,

4. Taking a few minutes of silence/prayer before the session begins.

Other strategies are about what's going on in me:

1. Recognizing and setting aside my own struggles and frustrations about the day or what is going on outside the session,

2. Remembering that the client has entrusted to me with his or her life, time, and perhaps money,

3. Being curious, open, and receptive,

4. Valuing the client's life, circumstances, and questions as much as my own,

5. Letting go of my feelings and agendas about the client and his or her situation.

Ironically, I get in the way of a client's growth when I try to be helpful instead of present, give answers instead of asking questions, and take responsibility for the client instead of being responsible to the client.

Carl Horton - February 10th, 2021 at 10:08pm

I think, like many others, my attention span is getting shorter and shorter. I'm easily distracted AND I'm a multi-tasker. My greatest challenge to maintaining a coaching presence is to stay focused and engaged, which takes discipline and self-awareness. I take steps to focus, remove distractions and provide my full attention. When I catch myself wandering away, I note it and refocus. I also need to avoid the trap of advising, solving problems and teaching. That is a natural inclination of mine and it, like my distractability, is another thing I need to check to maintain the coaching presence.

Jessie Bazan - February 11th, 2021 at 8:51am

"Being present rather than preoccupied" -- this statement hits me hard! I find that the hardest times for me to be present are when I have another meeting immediately following the one I am in. I get anxious about the time and then have trouble concentrating on the person in front of me. One strategy I use to maintain presence is to leave ample time between meetings. Another is to take a few deep breaths to help me get centered in the space.

I think I can get in the way of a client's growth if I try to problem solve for them. On the other hand, I also wonder if staying neutral when a client is clearly stuck hinders their growth as well? For instance, if the client is stuck and asks for my advice or help ... and I simply turn the question back to them ... I wonder how effective that is.

Bill - February 14th, 2021 at 7:23pm

I try to be fully alert, focusing my eye contact on the other person. I make sure to get to the meeting earlier then the client/person I'm coaching so I can use the restroom, get coffee if needed, and then sit and calm my mind down a bit.

I do find it tempting to offer suggestions/advice giving and I know I will have to work hard not to do that. Another thing is that when folks talk about a situation and it seems to always go downhill because whatever they are doing is not working I find that I am rather judgmental. I want to fix them! I will have to work hard not to pre-judge folks, its their life not mine!

Saeed - February 15th, 2021 at 3:06pm

For me to be present, I have to begin with the biological pieces: rested, without a need to use the restroom, and a coffee and/or cold water in my hand.

From being a pastor for over 20 years, I've also learned that for me to be fully present with others and sensitive to the Holy Spirit in leading a coaching session, I've also the need to make certain I am self-treating by utilizing my coach and therapist. I need to be spiritually full and well so that I can be what's needed at the moment, too. And if I'm not well, then I should truly check to see if I need time away while I restore.