Recently, our whole organisation had the pleasure of participating in a coaching training process. Learning how to hold “thinking conversations” with others, both an art and a skill. We worked together for 3 days and it was a delightful learning experience!
The content and the concepts were clear and were exciting, but what really truly made the difference for me was the facilitator of the training. She was completely present. She was completely there in mind, body and heart, committed to our learning process.
Her presence was communicated in the following ways;
- She did not once in all the 3 days look at her cell phone. Every tea and lunch break she interacted with us. That communicates something very strongly to me in this day and age where we are all (I include myself) glued to our communication devices whenever we see a gap!
- She listened really, really well.
- She was in no rush at all. We had a lot of ground to cover, but she had all the time in the world for us, walking at our pace so we focused on the area’s most important to us.
- She was completely committed to our learning. Her language was such that she was always gently encouraging; “You can do this, you can do this. It just takes practice, give it a go.”
- She believed in the potential of every single person present and communicated that over and over again.
- She brought who she was, she was authentic and real.
When was the last time you were listened to in a way that made you feel like you were the only person in the room? When was the last time someone gave you their full and absolute attention and was in no rush whatsoever to interrupt you? We practised a lot of that kind of deep listening during the week. It was marvellous! It was wonderful to be listened to by my colleagues and it was wonderful to simply listen. To be present. And something happened in the staff body over these 3 days. We were a more cohesive bunch than we have ever been before. We all became more and more present to each other. And we ended the training with a time of acknowledging one another. Speaking affirmations of what we had noticed and experienced over the 3 days, deepening our relationships with one another and our commitment to having deeper conversations as we integrate this practice into our work. I found this really very beautiful.
Presence unlocks something. When you are slow to talk and quick to listen, the powerful questions that lead to insight come! However, when you are so busy formulating the perfect question or response or defence in your head, you are actually no longer listening at all. Being present takes some intentionality on the individual’s part. We need to decide to be present; mind, body and heart, in order to truly listen to another. Your presence is a gift, whether you are in a professional or personal space.
What could the benefits be for us if we decided to be present in our conversations? How much more effective could we be if we decided to lay aside all distractions and focus on the other person?
So here’s the challenge! For one whole day, choose to be completely present. Choose to lay aside all distractions when you have another person in front of you, and pay attention to only them.
Let us know how it goes! With huge thanks to dlalanathi for the opportunity to be on this course. And to Dr. Nicola Graham of Thoughtsmiths (www.thoughtsmiths.co.za) who facilitated with such excellence and presence!