Coaching Presence: 4 Steps to Increase Your Mental Fitness

Coaching is hard work. I see people physically worn out after a 15 minute coaching practice. I’ll show you how to get your mind in shape to pay attention and be present with those you coach.

What makes coaching so physically taxing? 

These days it’s rare to concentrate on one project for more than a quarter of an hour. I read a study a while back that showed that on average a person works on the same topic for only 10 minutes, and during that time approaches the topic by doing three different tasks.

Coaching requires staying on topic for 20, 30, or even 60 minutes – six times longer than average! And it has but one approach: talking together. It is no wonder that coaching is tiring, it takes a lot of energy to focus, and frankly, we’re out of shape.

Coaching Presence

We all know that during a coaching conversation we shouldn’t look at text messages or answer phone calls.

Staying present with the other person is more than just not checking our phones. It’s engaging the coachee with your heart, mind, spirit, and intuition during the whole of the conversation. This is called “Coaching Presence.”

Coaching presence is a key characteristic of excellent coaches. Presence means the coach:

  • Listens actively
  • Sticks with the coachee’s topic
  • Tunes into the coachee’s emotions
  • Participates with, rather than leads the client
  • Flexibly approaches the conversation
  • Lets go of his or her own solutions

How to Increase Coaching Presence

  1. Discipline your mind. Be willing to give your full attention to the coachee. Choose to put all other things aside during the conversation. Give up your solutions for the coachee and allow the coachee to lead the way to discover his own.
  2. Remove distractions. Coach in an environment that will encourage you to focus. If you are using Skype, turn off your email and any social networking sites. Turn off your phone. Silent mode isn’t good enough… who can resist looking at the text message that appears?
  3. Focus your mind before the conversation. Show up and start being present 5 minutes before the coaching conversation. Put aside your other work – physically and mentally. Center yourself. Review notes from previous appointments.
  4. Focus during the conversation. Let go of your own ideas, strategies, and solutions. Listen carefully to the coachee and allow her to find the way forward. Ask questions from different angles to increase perspective. Don’t be formulaic. Risk asking questions that are not part of your ‘plan.’ Go with your intuition.

Coaching Presence takes a lot of physical energy. It takes even more mental discipline. Lets get in shape. It will pay off with better coaching results.

Question: How do you stay present when you coach? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    4 thoughts on “Coaching Presence: 4 Steps to Increase Your Mental Fitness

    1. Great article Keith. I have a very active mind, and I’m always envisioning solutions. What might you suggest for creating a daily discipline of “practicing presence” so that I’m might be more conscious of it when coaching?

      • Learning to focus and discipline one’s mind is key to presence. Walt’s suggestion here the comments is a good one. Also, practicing daily spiritual disciplines of listening prayer, reflection, meditation build those “presence” muscles. I also find a link between mastering the urge to check text messages, emails, social media, etc. and the ability to have presence when coaching.

    2. Excellent thoughts, Keith! One way I have found helpful in staying present is to have a curious mindset. I look for key words or phrases that can be explored for greater clarity and awareness. In doing so, it forces me to focus and be present, as well as to be in a learning mode.