The ICF defines "Coaching Presence" as the ability to be fully conscious and create a spontaneous relationship with the student using a coaching style that is open, flexible and confident.
Presence is about being there for your students. Really being there, not just your body in the room but all of you; your mind, your emotions and most importantly, your intuition.
You can call yourself present when you are dancing in the moment, allowing what you are feeling to influence the coaching process in a light and energetic way, and yet not being knocked over or in awe of what's going on. The coaching is a dance and you are an active partner in it.
What we are aiming for in Presence is a child-like openness for whatever wants to discovered, experimented with, changed. You will be exploring and uncovering things that only the student knows about themselves, at a deeper level than in ordinary conversations.
In order to develop your coaching presence you probably need to be more outside your head than usual, and more into your emotions than in an ordinary classroom situation. And you will be relying on your intuition to show you the way. Have you considered the balance between how you use your Intellect, Emotions and Intuition?
You will know that you are Present when the coaching has a number of lighter and humerous moments - not jokes that you recall and tell, but moments of recognition that come from seeing things in a new way. You and your students will both feel uplifted by the Presence that you bring to the coaching, and it is your confidence in the coaching process that makes change possible for your students.
On many occasions, when you are present, you really don't know what's going on, you don't know what's going to happen. You have no control. You aren't in control, but you are in charge. And that means you need to stand in this place of not knowing, in confidence, with your student and allow whatever change wants to happen to make itself known. At times like these, when the winds of uncertainty are blowing more strongly than usual, I find it useful to repeat to myself "Trust the Process" three or four times in my head. This repetition gives the process a little more time to have its effect, and keeps me from saying or doing anything that might upset the process. Sometimes nothing happens, at least not on the surface. Always, a lot has happened. You can consider yourself priviledged if you get to see changes during the coaching session.
Another aspect that you will notice when you are Present is that a lot of different possibilities open up, lots of ways of working with the student. As coach you get to choose which way to work. Just go with the flow and you can't be wrong. By trusting that your intuition has made the right choice, you will have a huge positive impact on the student. If however you make a logical choice - one that seems right in your head, you may risk having no positive impact at all.
You will notice that you are not present of you hear yourself telling the student things that come from your own experience and thoughts... just stop. It's OK to go there from time to time, and as you do this less, you will become more Present in the coaching and be of more value to your students.
Another sign that you are fully Present is that you are not drawn into the student's emotions when they react to their change process. You will simply stand there with them, eyes staring, tears flowing, voices hollering - oh and that's the student I am describing. You will have a neutral expression, with a touch of wonder, like a child who's just woken up a sleeping bear.
A situation that lends itself to developing Presence is having a meeting with angry parents, and perhaps their angry son or daughter too. Going into this situation head first, with your intellect, is likely to inflame their anger, result in a argument and leave you all exhausted after some time shouting at each other, and with probably little positive results. If you've been there, you'll know what I am talking about.
In order to get the greatest benefit for all concerned in such a situation you can ask yourself to be more Present, include your emotions and intuition in the meeting and that will automatically include their emotions and intuition in their meeting with you.
By using open questions to uncover what's really going on, and confidently standing in the storm of uncertainties and fears that they have brought with them, you stand a greater chance of bringing their process into view and enable them to deal more clearly with it. Repeating to yourself "trust the process" will help to keep you balanced in intellect, emotion and intuition; and will keep you from responding too quickly.
By being Present you will be able to access subtle clues in the spoken and non spoken communication that will help you name what's going on. This might include taking a bit of a risk when you name something that's likely to be uncomfortable for the parents and student to hear. There are ways to phrase yourself that are both confident and respectful, and avoid being accusative. We are focusing right now on being present rather than politeness. We will keep our focus on being spontaneous.
When you are Present you will notice that you find lots of ways for working together, so expect it, look for it, listen for it. If you consult your head at this time, you risk not being Present.
When you are Present you will notice that the conversation becomes lighter, humerous, so expect it, listen for it, look for it. If you consult your head at this time, you risk not being Present.
Here's a simple tool for developing your sense of Presence over a period of weeks and months.
At the end of the meeting / day / week ask yourself "How Present was I?" How much humour was there? Were there many solutions popping up? Was I spontaneous? How much did I trust the process? You can score yourself from 1-5 and expect that the scores will go up over time. Like any muscle Presence responds well to repetition.
I shall talk about establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client. Intimacy in this case describes the close collaboration that occurs in a coaching relationship.
The ICF describes the skill of creating trust and intimacy as the ability to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust
The kind of trust that coaching needs, requires that the teacher:
Tools for Building trust
What ways do can you think of that you can use to build trust between you and the students that you are coaching? Imagine that you are going to meet a student for their first coaching session. What will you pay attention to regarding building trust with this student?
There are mechanical ways to build trust. You can use your communication to physically match and mirror the student in a relaxed, not-too-obvious way.
Depending on how you are sitting or standing, you may choose to match = do the same, or mirror = do the mirror opposite. Both have the effect of building trust.
Mirroring and Matching
This mirroring and matching may come naturally to you and you may already know that you speak differently when talking to different students. This adaptation usually promotes good communication, and is felt in a cosy sensation of "trust" in your belly. Certainly when the communication is less than trusting, the sensation in your stomach is less than cosy.
The mirroring and matching needs to be done in a way that avoids catching the student's attention, and the changes will sometimes be lead by you, and sometimes be led by the student.
During this mirroring and matching, the turn-taking in the coaching conversation will still be 20% coach and 80% student.
There are three areas to consider when mirroring and matching
1) Vocal language
2) Body language
3) Communication Channels
Matching can include deliberately speaking in a similar tone of voice, at about the same pace and with similar intonation and pause patterns as the student.
Matching can include sitting or standing in a similar way to the student, moving as the student moves, almost as in a dance.
Another way to build trust is to communicate on the right "channel", by channel is meant Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic channels. Visual means communicating through the eyes, Auditory means through the ears and Kinesthetic means through the body.
Some people naturally pick up on channels. There are methodical ways to uncover which channel the student normally uses so that you can match and mirror more effectively.
Obviously a single answer is only an indication, and the student probably uses two, or perhaps all three channels to some extent. This point is that this activity will give you clues that help you guess better during the coaching process.
Here are some examples of how you can use channels
As coach when explaining, or when you ask the student to explain, use diagrams, symbols, charts, and arrangements of words on a page. Make use of different colors!
The coaching conversation is the perfect channel for them. If you want to deliver information you could read texts out loud for them rather than asking them to read the written text. Similarly prefer to get the student speaking rather than getting them to draw, or dance as you would with Visual and Kinesthetic communicators.
Make sure you use all of their senses, especially describing what they see, feel, smell, get them to act it out, dance, and use physical metaphors for example.
With Kinesthetic communicators you can make good use of role-playing challenging situations in your room before they meet them in the outside world.
Getting students unstuck
Sometimes students can get stuck in a coaching session. You can use your knowledge of the student's preferred communication channel to get them unstuck.
If you have noted that the student is Visual - change channel to Auditory (get them to speak, sing, blurt the first word that comes into their minds, shout, whisper...) or change channel to Kinesthetic, get them on their feet, make a physical metaphor, dance like a ... whatever it is that's blocking them)
This channel-change activity always produce results, it often gets them unstuck as they snap back to their preferred channel.
As you develop your repertoire of communication channel activities you will become better at connecting with and developing trust with the student AND be better able to move them forwards in their coaching process.
Intimacy - Avoiding being too intimate
1) What are the signs of a positive, constructive intimate relationship with the student?
There is a special "I trust you" look in the eyes of the coaching client who is about to cross an important threshhold into a richer experience of life.
2) What might happen if you are too intimate with your student?
The student may weep, shout abuse, throw a punch
The question I want to ask here is "How can you know in advance what the right level of intimacy is?"
The answer is, you can't know what's right. If you are doing a good job as a coach you are going to cross over from private to intimate at least once with each student. Otherwise - if you never cross the line, or if you are avoiding crossing the line - you may be playing safe, and that's no good at all for the student's coaching process. Crossing the line between private and intimate requires preparation.
You CAN design a way of dealing with being too intimate in advance of it happening.
The Coaching Agreement
The thing that really helps with issues around trust and intimacy is the Coaching Agreement.
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