The Value of Presence

by on July 28, 2011

The Value of Presence

At a recent New Jersey Professional Coaches Association event I attended, our speaker was talking to the group about the core competencies that help guide those who are part of the profession.  There are eleven such competencies.  Two that were particularly emphasized were the competencies of Active Listening and Coaching Presence.  A story was relayed to us that made quite an impression on how these two qualities can help to enhance the connection in a relationship between any two people.

Coaching is growing as a world wide profession.  However, it is still taking roots in many countries.  One such country is Bulgaria.  As part of a program to introduce coaching to residents of Bulgaria, a number of American coaches took place in a teleconference to demonstrate coaching.  The American coaches did not speak the Bulgarian language fluently, while many of the Bulgarians had limited knowledge of English.  However, in spite of that, the demonstration was very successful.  The highlight of the evening was when a Bulgarian woman was coached by an American master coach.  The woman relayed her story to the coach.  Throughout the entire conversation the coach acknowledged and validated what the woman was saying.  This was basically through brief answers of indicating he understood her frustration and validating her feelings of how she felt and of the changes she wanted to make in her life.  When the demonstration was complete, the woman was emotionally spent, but grateful to have had someone just listen to her.  She proclaimed at the end of the session, “Coaching is Wonderful!”  Although these two individuals were from different parts of the world, and spoke two completely different languages, the fact that one took the time to be completely focused on what the other was saying and allowed them to share their feelings and emotions, helped the one being coached to experience the benefits of what can happen when someone truly is connected and hearing what you are saying.

In the past in this space I have written a bit about the value of listening, and in particular to do so in an intuitive manner.  However, that intuitive nature to be completely in tune with the other individual only happens when you are completely present in the moment. Being completely present is not easy to accomplish.  It takes practice and discipline.  It involves clearing one’s mind of everything at that particular moment, (that which has happened in the past or is on the agenda for the immediate future), and pushing it aside.    Our world is so fast paced with so much in the way of communication being passed to us constantly, that it is extremely easy to become distracted and lose focus.

The concept of presence does not only apply to our interactions and conversations with others.  It can very often happen within the relationship that in many ways is the most special one that we have, the one with ourselves.  Give some thought back to the last time you were frustrated.  What was the activity you were doing at that time?  Were you fully engaged in it at that moment?  Where was your thought process at that moment?  Was it on activities that had happened earlier that day?  Were you focused on what you might have to do later that day or that week?  Now think of a time where you were able to accomplish something and it went well.  Where were your thoughts at that point?  Were they fully focused on the activity you were doing at the time?  Were you able to put aside, (at least for those moments), all other items that were part of your life, so that you could fully enjoy or receive the greatest benefit out of what you were doing at that moment?

Yes, being present in the moment is difficult.  I know I struggle with it all the time.  Even as I write this piece I battle not thinking of other items I am looking to accomplish over the next day or two, or how to balance multiple activities for which I have responsibility.  However, I do know this.  My chances of making progress which is satisfying to me is in direct proportion to my ability to focus only on the task at hand, and only the task at hand until I’m ready to move onto the next one I choose to tackle.

The next time you are feeling as if you are overwhelmed and not accomplishing that which you choose to get done, or if you are struggling in a relationship with another to be understood or to understand them, take a step back.  Where are you present at that moment? Realize only you know the answer to that question.  If the answer is not on the task at hand or conversation at hand, either acknowledge it and look to focus in the moment or step away and indicate to yourself, you will address the situation when you are prepared to focus on it completely.  If it involves conversation with another, you likely will have to explain why you are stepping away at that moment.  They may even possibly be angry at you for backing away at that time.  However, they’ll learn to appreciate, as you will, that the only true connections that occur in terms of what you want to accomplish independently or in relationship with others only occur when your presence allows you to be fully focused on the task at hand.

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