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A space to share and understand Presence within the coaching environment. Share ideas and thoughts on being fully conscious and creating spontaneous relationships with clients and employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.


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Posted By Ken Smith, 01 July 2017

We live in an analytical world.  We look for causes, break things down, tie bits of them together again, transfer and translate, interpret, infer and weave in some old and new meanings; all so we can get by and get along.  And when we do these things as coaches, working with someone who wants to make sense of a part of their world whose meaning has slipped behind a cloud for a while, whereabouts do we, the coach, need to be? 

I was running a workshop recently, introducing some internal coaches to Clean Language.  This is an approach which, to put it very crudely, has a certain an anti-analytical attitude; an anti-“the coach clearly knows what’s going on here” stance. It’s about really believing the old adage that clients have their own best, most useful answers tucked away somewhere.  

A couple of the participants in the workshop felt that using Clean Language lessened a coach’s presence, with the coach simply working to a set menu of questions and leaving themselves coldly outside, behind a glass wall.  It’s an entirely reasonable first response by coaches who prefer, by virtue of training, education, wider culture and whatever else, to work interpretatively and to bring more external content into their coaching conversations. 

For me, using Clean Language actually helps me to be more present.  But the workshop left me thinking again about the “presence” thing. 

When it comes to coaching, I suspect that the parties involved would generally agree that presence has less to do with what you might call a charismatic impact and more to do with a deeper experience of connection and of really being listened to. 

The paradox though seems to be, that the way you listen to others is tangled up with how you listen to yourself.  So presence can be something that arises from your own mindfulness - or perhaps from your own mindlessness, as you let go of your prejudices and preferences and cleverness, at those times when you get a sense that they are playing around and playing up. 

We are, bizarrely, more present when we are not in others’ lines of sight; when we’ve got out of the way. 

Still, to be present, there has to be somebody else there, which makes presence both a quality of attention and an experience shared.  Though it does not quite do justice to their various nuances, you could say that when you are mindful, you are present with yourself; when you are present you are mindful with others.


Ken Smith

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6 Learnings on life and coaching from a 10 month old grandchild

Posted By Andy King, 01 July 2017

Create a safe environment.
For a 10 month old this means one in which they are physically safe to explore their world, and one where they feel secure. For a coaching client it means a space where they feel free and safe to explore whatever they need to.

Pay exquisite attention.
We naturally pay exquisite attention on what they are doing because we revel in their learning and discovery – and they reward us by doing more or getting further with every attempt. I’d like to give the same level of attention to clients.

Repeat what they say.
Despite the fact that it makes no sense to us we happily play back to them every utterance. This lets them know they’ve been heard them and they get to hear their outputs again. I’ve no doubt they use this feedback loop to develop their language skills. For a client feeling heard and hearing their words back is powerful and often generates insights.

Within the context of keeping them safe, whatever they do we praise and encourage them. What would happen if we had a similarly positive approach to more of our adult interactions?

No judgement.
At this age we don’t scold or criticise, we stay resolutely positive about everything they attempt. We build on what works rather than try and change what doesn’t. It is hard not to make comparisons (judgments) with other children, but the reality is that it is of no help to them whatsoever. Are clients celebrated for who they are?

Trust them and ourselves.
We trust them to know what is right for them. When they decide to go to sleep in the middle of a story we don’t take umbrage – we think of it as a job well done. Are we as comfortable with trusting a client to have their own best answers?

Finally of course there is the big advantage of being a grandparent – you get to have all this joy and then their mum and dad have them back for the sleepless nights. Maybe relationships with clients are similar in this respect as well as they go back into their organisation, business or family?

It would be great to hear if any of this chimes with you and how your experience is different.

Gurgle gurgle gurgle

Andy King

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