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Presence versus present

Our next guest post on “Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring” comes from Jon Bartlett. If you don’t already know him, Jon is a professional coach, mentor and mediator. I can recommend taking the time to read his blog and in particular this post. Look out for him on Twitter as @ProjectLibero .

Jon’s succinct post for me highlights perhaps the most important part of any successful conversation, not just as a coach or mentor…

Presence versus present

I think I must have been busy doing something when David chased me up about writing a guest post about the “most positive practice I use in coaching”. That’s my only excuse for my somewhat glib response “Pitching up is my most positive practice”.

Yet as I looked again at what I’d just typed to David it made a lot of sense.

As coaches it is incumbent upon us to create a conversation, a piece of time where anything can be discussed and examined. That’s not easy and it takes a lot of practice. We all talk about rapport and “holding the space” for the client, about active listening and open, empathic questions. We all know what we are meant to do but for me, there is a piece before that.

As a coach I prepare for each client in a similar way. I never schedule anything just before coaching and if I’m travelling I allow time to get over the journey first. I often listen to a piece of music to make sure that I’m in a good state to coach. Then I try to empty my head of anything else going on my life. That call I need to make to the bank? Forgotten. The invoice I need to send? Ignored.

You see it’s one thing to be in the room, it’s another to have truly arrived and be fully present. If my intent is to be fully in the service of my client then all my “stuff” needs to be locked away for the duration. Now that seems pretty obvious but have you been in a conversation where it’s quite obvious that the other person is mentally distracted? Now rerun that meeting in your head imagining the other person engaged, open and obviously focussed on you and the discussion you are having. I’m guessing it feels better?

So that’s my positive practice, don’t just be a presence in the room, be fully present.



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