Professional coaches know the importance of being skilled at coaching presence—being fully present. This fundamental and powerful skill can make or break a coach/client relationship.
The International Coach Federation describes presence as the “ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, and confident.”
Being present is about being in the moment with a laser focus on the client. To do this, eliminate any potential distractions and filters—including your own preconceived thoughts and judgments. Being fully present means listening to understand and asking open-ended questions to help your client explore himself or herself more deeply.
Here are a couple of tips that can help you be more present in your coaching conversations.
Remember, it’s not about you. I like to say to my clients “It is not about me as a coach; it is all about YOU!” The coach is confident about not knowing or identifying the solution—their focus is on shifting perspective and exploring possibilities. The client is in the lead with the coach as a solid support partner.
Silence is okay. Often we feel the need to fill in the gaps during a conversation. But truly being present may involve periods of silence, which a coach will often do intentionally. This allows clients more space to share what’s on their mind.
Listen to understand. Too often, people listen only enough to respond. Instead of really hearing what the other person is saying, energy is spent preparing an answer or response. Effective coaches practice active listening—listening with the expectation of hearing something new or surprising.
Tell your truth. Coaching presence means the coach calls out what they are observing and trusts their intuition to support the client in gaining clarity, increasing self-awareness, and finding the right solutions.
I have learned over the years that the most important thing I can do in my coaching relationships as well as my personal relationships is to be fully present and in the moment. It is about showing I care, listening to understand, and controlling my thoughts, judgments, and responses.
Imagine being fully present with your spouse, partner, kids, family members, friends, and co-workers. Consider listening to truly understand the other person’s perspective—what they are saying and feeling—without quickly forming a judgment or jumping to share your thoughts. How would your relationships change?
If you haven’t tried coaching presence, try it!
About the Author
Terry Watkins is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.