To ‘hold space’ is one of the most important things I do for my coaching clients — especially my senior level and C-suite clients who often have very few people around them to openly discuss things. You might be wondering what ‘holding space’ means. I believe it’s creating a safe place for dialogue, to allow the other person to just ‘be’ — without any judgement, and to allow them to explore their thoughts and emotions in a deeper way that offers them a greater understanding of themselves.
Meeting recently with one of my former coaching clients, we talked about why coaching was such a gift she gave herself during a time of transition after a difficult divorce. Her self-confidence had taken a major hit, she was struggling with her job as a VP of Operations and Marketing (and especially one colleague who made her life difficult), and she wanted to get back to a place of joy and ease and confidence. Coaching gave her a safe place to fully experience whatever was happening with her that day, and an opportunity to drill down to the essence of that experience and emotion. Acknowledging those feelings, and understanding why and how they mattered to her turned out to be the first step to self-acceptance.
Here are four ways I ‘hold space’ for clients.
1. Let go of judgement.
2. Open my heart.
3. Allow them to have whatever experience they’re having
4. Give my complete undivided attention to them or the situation.
These are keys. There is no judgment, or trying to fix the person. It’s not controlling the outcome or getting to a specific result. It’s simply being, with an empathetic presence, in that space with the other person and allowing them to experience and feel. It’s always amazing to me what can happen while holding space for another. I don’t say much. I may ask a question (or two or three). I use my intuition to guide me where to go. I trust the other person’s inner intelligence. And most of the time, my client works through whatever they need to process, and have that ‘aha’ moment for greater understanding.
Space is a gift.
In our ‘rush about’ world, holding space is a gift we give ourselves. It’s taking time to reflect, and experience whatever it is we’re feeling. To slow down. Coaching isn’t telling someone what to do, but asking questions in such a way that the other person can arrive at an answer that works for them.
If you need a safe place for dialogue, to have someone hold space for you while you navigate issues in either your professional or personal life, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at email@example.com for a free half-hour consultation.