This quote popped up in my Facebook feed recently. It is something I (try to) adopt with the people I care about all through the year although particularly at this time of year when it is easy to go overboard with the presents.
Of course, I can apply this to my coaching practice too. One of the first things you (re)learn when you mentor, coach or provide support of some kind is to listen. Easy peasy, right? The problem is that we don’t always give our full attention to the person we are listening to.
I’ve had sessions where I have been pre-occupied with thoughts from a meeting I have just come from, or what I am going to have for dinner later or just generally my mind wandering off. I am physically present but not mentally present.
Of course, we all have off days, I accept that but it’s not the ideal scenario. In 2015 and 2016 I spent 31 days actively trying to listen to people around me and making an effort to be 100% in that moment, holding the space for them. I heard so much and learnt a great deal about myself and others. It is something I can always practice more and it gives me even more.
5 tips for the festive period
This Christmas I want to give you the gift of presence.
So here are 5 things I find useful at this time of year:
I W.A.I.T – I ask myself: Why Am I Talking? I try and make time before a coaching session to have a moment or two of quiet so I can prepare myself to listen to the person who is talking
I take regular breaks so that I am emotionally and mentally available. Get outside, have a bath/shower, go to bed, disconnect from social media. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself and your loved ones your full attention.
I get connected and curious about what they are saying and doing. I love watching and listening to my kids play make believe or listening to the wisdom which pours out of people when you give them the time and space. I don’t need to concentrate then, I just do because I am interested.
Self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves. The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for combating the feelings of overwhelm and re-grounding you. It has four steps:
- Recognize what is going on
- Allow the experience to be there, just as it is
- Investigate with kindness
- Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience
Finally, Michael Taft wrote a fantastic article in the Huffington Post which I found really useful. You can find it here.
This time next week we will be celebrating Christmas and looking forward to the New Year so may I take the opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, full of presence (and some presents), laughter, kindness and general merriment.