Research Paper By Lisa Hulla
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
One of the most trying challenges for a new coach, in my experience, is the skill of presence. Specifically “being present”: in attendance, holding space, without judgement, having no preconceived ideas, no perception, actively listening to what is being said and not said as well as avoiding outside distractors/thoughts and being mentally available for your coachee.
Many people have a belief, stemming from our own life experiences, that in order to help others, we must bring something or we must offer something; a piece of advice, a word of wisdom, a shared experience, a solution to validate our support toward others.
Interestingly enough in coaching the process is not actually about us and what we want, yet it is about the other person and what they want. Given that important distinction, does it not make sense to help others by beginning with unconditional positive regard?
Let’s fully digest the separate word meanings (dictionary.com):
Unconditional – unrestricted, candid, expressive; not limited by conditions.
Positive – confident, optimistic, encouraging, progressive; without relation to or comparison with other things.
Regard – respect, honor, interest; to have or show respect or concern.
In the coach process, it’s about trusting the person that is seeking support with an issue and feeling stuck on how to produce a result or obtain an outcome for a resolution.
Thanks to the great work of humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers who founded unconditional positive regard
…where parents, significant others (, coaches) … accepts and loves the person for what he or she is. Positive regard is not withdrawn if the person does something wrong or makes a mistake. The consequences of unconditional positive regard are that the person feels free to try things out and make mistakes, even though this may lead to getting it worse at times.” (McLeod, S. A. (2014). Carl Rogers.
This I believe is the essence of presence.
As a Coach, I recognize that my role and obligation is to be fully open and present for my client is a great responsibility. I truly accept that the client brings to the session a full wealth of knowledge and details regarding what results are to be achieved and through powerful questions and effective listening these ‘nuggets’ will be identified and discovered. As a coach I will suspend my judgements regarding right or wrong in that the client is the expert of the topic. As a coach I will offer tools to reframe, refocus perspectives, and create the environment for clarity and structure for learning. As a coach I will acknowledge and recognize the successes and support the progressive forward movement as per the client’s wants and needs. As a coach I will respect and practice unconditional positive regard with each client as an individual and unique gift believing they are accountable for the outcome.
Alternatively, as a Client, I will model my behavior (to my best of ability) with regards to unconditional positive regard in that I am a unique individual with much to offer. As a client I will be open and thoughtful with my own learning and process of understanding of what my wants and needs may be, given my values and beliefs. As a client I will suspend my judgements and allow for vulnerability with my coach to support my growth. As a client I will be open and mindful for the truth to the questions and fully seek to gain clarity. As a client I will acknowledge my strengths and focus forward to expand my skills. As a client I will own my actions and keep my commitments as these are how I remain accountable to myself.
Going forward, as a professional with a newly sharpened skill set and abundant toolkit of knowledge (and experiences) I will share without hesitation to various individuals throughout my life as a coach, a client, a consultant, a trainer, a mentor, a parent, a friend, a sister and a wife. My journey with the International Coach Academy has offered not only coach training yet amazing and sustainable life lessons. The courses, practice, mentorship and demonstration of coach training has been one of the most influential and life-changing experiences. I am so appreciative and sincerely thankful for the opportunity to (virtually) meet, work and learn from some of the best coaches in the business. Without a doubt, this program has positively changed me both personally and professionally and I am grateful.