Coaching is a demanding process. Every hour you give to a coachee you are giving them your full attention and creating a structure where they can unpack their thoughts and ideas and feel safe to do so. The quality of your presence enables the telling of a story. You set the tone for inquiry and being curious. This is what we mean by being present. It is tough and there are no shortcuts. We have learned that you need space before and after a session so that during the moment of coaching you give of your best.
You are the audience for a story that has up to that point been in someone’s head and so if you are not fully present the impact is immediate. The coaching becomes a Question and Answer session and giving an account of events rather than an opportunity to explore and for a story to be expanded and deepened. To be present you need to prepare. This is both a preparation of content and more importantly themselves. As a coach who is fully present, you will have a deep quality of awareness and attention and a better chance of understanding what is happening on all levels for both yourself and your coachee. Your coachee will experience being really ‘seen’ and heard.
Breathing exercises are useful in many areas of life and, in relation to coaching, the mindful approach enables you to look at each coachee situation freshly, without reacting with your habitual responses (ie. anticipating what the person will say next, interrupting, interpreting their situation for them). Breathing is also the way to bring your attention back, if you lose concentration briefly during a session. If I am running short of time then I know that three deep breaths are sufficient for me to calm myself but if I have longer then the following exercise is a great thing to do.
Take a moment to ensure you are sitting or standing comfortably. Tune into your body sensations, its temperature and tensions and feel more of what is going on in your body. Equipped with a stronger sense of how you are, right now, you are in a much better position to exercise choice about how you respond in situations.
Temperature: where are you warm? Sweating? Sweltering? What is cool, chilled, shivering, frozen?
Pressure: what is tight? Heavy? Loose or relaxed? Light? What feels numb or absent?
Movement: what is spinning, buzzing, tingling, rushing, beating, streaming, trembling? What is still?
Mood: what is your background mood? Mood is a much richer landscape than we usually allow for. Are you joyful? Agitated? Excited? Calm? Angry? Enthusiastic? Irritated? Lost? Worried? Sad? Happy?
Breathe deeply for a few minutes and then repeat the process. What is different?
As coaches we want those we work with to use such techniques to control anxiety and develop their inner confidence. We need to use them for ourselves on a regular basis and notice how we respond to feedback from such exercises. In this way we find balance: feeling confidence without arrogance, relaxed and ready, focused and creative. What a great world if we can all feel like this.