I sat across the desk from my new colleague as we visited over the events of the weekend. We had known each other only a short time, but we talked easily about our pre-teens and our responsibilities at church. It was a quick but pleasant visit.
Later, though, I realized that I had done most of the talking. I have an introverted personality and do not typically dominate a conversation. I wondered: How was she able to build that deep of a connection with me? Eventually, I realized that she built that type of rapport with a variety of people.
So what was her secret sauce for creating connections? I believe it was her capacity to make a person feel important and safe: Two of the rarest commodities in our fast-paced world of priorities.
In coaching, we refer to the ability to make connection with our clients as the skill of presence. The International Coach Federation defines presence as the coach’s ability to be fully conscious and to create a spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident. In fact, the better the coach is at being present, the better the connection with the client.
So what is the biblical perspective of building presence with a client? Is it any different? As I pondered all this, I felt that there was some connection to our need to feel important and safe.
I considered Jesus’ example of presence in Luke 8:40-48. Jesus was headed on an important mission to Jarius’ house to heal his dying daughter when a woman with a bloody disease interrupted his journey. The child was deathly ill. The father was panicking. A multitude of voices clamored for His attention. Yet, Jesus was able to change course and deeply connect with a sick outcast. No judgment. No rush in his voice. No sense of irritation. No divided attention. Everything faded except His deep interest in what was occurring in her life.
By setting himself fully aside for her, He conveyed two truths; she was important and he wanted her to feel safe from judgment. To me, this is a spiritually definitive example of presence, because it highly regards the current state and future being of the woman as infinitely more important than other competing priorities.
In a world full of competing priorities, how can we authentically (from the very center of our being) convey importance and safety by our coaching presence? I offer a few tips as food for thought.
Tips on Adding Importance and Safety to Presence
- Before the coaching session, get re-centered on your own importance in the Lord. It’s difficult to draw from an empty well. Reflect on how much love the Father has bestowed upon you. Let it generate some calmness and peace as the truth of the Word washes over you. This was a key element of Jesus’ success. He had a deep, abiding sense of his own worth and was able to draw from a deep well of the Father’s presence in his life.
- As we soak in this calmness and peace, I believe we will become more sensitive to the client and the Holy Spirit. We will certainly become more Kingdom focused and will be more likely to regard the client as highly important.
- As Jesus shut out every distraction to connect with the woman, so must we. We are in the business of partnering with the Holy Spirit and helping the client to become, transform, develop and discover.
- As the conversation develops, stay incredibly inquisitive of what God is unfolding in this person’s life. This is a journey of discovery for the coach as well as the client.
- Trust the coaching process and that He is working even through the most innocuous coaching conversations. Trust will allow you to stay in the sense of presence with the client, instead of trying to fix what might not be working in the conversation.
So what do you think would add to a biblical perspective of building presence with a client? If you have any scriptures or general comments on this subject feel free to post your comments on the CCN blog or the Linked In Post.
There is so much more that can be said for this topic. As I mentioned above, the ICF definition of presence focuses on the skill of the coach, but there is growing trend on helping the client to become present through emotional and spiritual intelligence methodologies i.e., centering and grounding.
Join us for more information on centering and how it’s used in a coaching context at our next CCN member call, Building Coaching Presence and Client Focus Through Centering with Marilyn O’Hearne, MCC, CMCC on Tuesday, October 1st. Hope to see you there. http://www.christiancoaches.com/events.htm