“We cannot change the world by a new plan, project or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice and proposal; but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations and preoccupations and listen with attention and care to the voices speaking in their own center.” ~ Henri Nouwen
Supportive and effective coaching begins with creating and holding space for your client. Holding space is a term that perplexes many of us; yet once we practice and create the habit, it becomes natural. Holding space isn’t about taking up physical space; though creating a safe physical space is part of it. Holding space is about creating a sacred space in which others feel safe enough to express and heal.
Holding space is allowing yourself to be with others without judging them, trying to fix them, or trying to impact their outcome. It’s how we learn to be present for others with unconditional love and acceptance. Holding and creating space is how we provide the highest level of support for our clients. The ability to hold space for others is not only a powerful addition to your spiritual practice and life, but it’s a critical piece for your coaching practice.
Coaching vs. Fixing
Initially, you might find holding space a challenge, as our ego likes to tell us it’s our job to “fix” our clients. Note that we said holding space isn’t about trying to fix somebody or change their outcome. You cannot hold space for your client with an agenda of your own, as your agenda will cloud your client’s process. Holding space is about allowing your client to express his emotions freely, and trusting that his or her deeper healing is already at work.