What comes to mind when you see or hear the word presence? Is it related to the mind? Perhaps listening carefully? Feeling relaxed, open to ideas, aware…these are all qualities related to presence. Notice that I haven’t mentioned anything about context. Usually presence refers to being with at least one other person around. Thus, we are usually present with other people. But presence can begin with one’s self. Being present while no one is around. Being present. Or just being. What does that involve? Listening? Feeling relaxed, open to (own) ideas, being aware (of the body, of emotions, of needs, etc.)? In my case, most elements required in interpersonal presence apply also to solo presence.

So what about coaching? Why is presence a major ingredient for a high quality coaching session? Well, simply put, sharing presence with others is a basic human need. Yes, on the same level as sleep, food, and air. Why is that? We might have excellent solo presence, yet sometimes crave the presence of another human being. Their awareness of us.

Presence in the company of another human being satisfies a deep psychological need of being seen. Truly seen, on all levels. This means being listened to intently as we express ourselves. Being watched, but not judged. In fact, being placed in a positive light, regardless of what is shared. Presence creates a space to express, to reveal the fruits of our evolution and struggle. One derives self-worth from stepping inside such a space space and owning it, even only for a few minutes. Whatever is revealed during a coaching session is of high importance because the one holding the space (the coach) has an optimal state of mind and body. Yes, the body also enhances presence. It offers assurance and brings a wisdom beyond that of the analytical mind.

Society is meant, partially, to offer such a space. One where we share and celebrate, we grieve, and solve problems together. But in today’s western society, real, deep, genuine presence is harder and harder to find. Celebrations are quickly forgotten in favor of the next achievement, grieving is for the weak, and the problems tackled are almost exclusively material or external (financial, technological, political, etc.). The spirit, the soul, the heart are almost left out.

Coaching offers a space for intimate, personal celebrations, a neutral, respectful space for grieving, and a rigorous space for problem-solving. This space enables the most hidden habits, values, ideas, feelings and resources to surface. It is the coach’s presence that encourages one to go past the point of fear and self-doubt. To explore with curiosity, beyond feelings of anxiety, and into the areas where all the hidden resources, discarded dreams, and lost, or hidden identities reside.

Presence creates a bond based on trust, inclusive awareness, and curiosity. People work for years to build such bonds. During coaching, due to the training and nature of a coach, this can be achieved in a few hours, if not minutes. There are moments in life where the need for such a bond becomes imperative. While it might be tempting to turn to a loved one, they can be ill-equipped, biased, or simply unavailable to help. Hello, coach!

“Let others see their own greatness when looking in your eyes.” - Mollie Marti