Today’s guest post is by Jan Brause (@JanBrause) who shares her insights from Coaches Connect. Jan is a performance development consultant, professional coach and coach supervisor with many years successful experience of enabling personal growth and performance improvement through a passionate focus on the individual in an organisational context.
There was an inspirational line up of speakers and workshops at the Coaches Connect day. Paul Stokes and Lis Merrick delivered a session entitled ‘Do your clients fall in love with you?’ Lis and Paul described their research findings to date on exploring the concept of intimacy in coaching and mentoring. Their research has highlighted some key aspects to intimacy including trust, rapport, closeness, respect and also a shadow side of misuse where collusion or dependency may be present.
This session really got me thinking about how we work as coaches, mentors, supervisors or indeed in any connected professional relationship with another. My own belief is that the best work comes from a relationship that is compassionate, loving and trusting but how do we build this and what is over stepping the mark?
I recall in my early days of coaching that I created a ‘professional bubble’ around my work. My thinking was that this is a serious business in which I am engaging and I need to be professional in my work. I shared little of myself and stayed focussed on my client and the process. Many years later and with much more learning and experience to draw on, I find I work very differently. I have drawn on an eclectic mix of resources that now inform how I work as a coach some of which include presence based work, mindfulness practice, compassionate thinking and Heartmath©. Each of these has a common thread and it is one of holding love and care at the centre of our work.
Entering our work with a sense of curiosity, an open heart and a feeling of love and care for others can truly change the depth of interaction we have. I wonder how many of us have embarked on a relationship wanting to be in control, of our selves or the situation, rather like the way I described my early experience of coaching. I needed to be able to ‘control’ and manage myself in this context. C. Otto Sharma describes the concept of surrendering control ‘By letting go they allow something truly new to emerge’. I believe we need open hearts to truly let go because our ‘ego’ will get in the way. We are human after all; we have desires, fears and vulnerabilities often unspoken. Doug Silsbee in Presence-Based Coaching describes connecting through the heart. The Institute of Heartmath© and their research emphasises the importance of feelings of love, gratitude and compassion. If we access this it becomes something palpable rather than an intellectual concept. We embody it, our clients experience it and the interaction is changed as a result.
It would be remiss of me not to touch on the shadow side, the idea that intimacy can go too far – create dependency, collusion or inappropriate sexual behaviour. This could happen and I think we need courage to be open enough about the boundaries we operate within, the privileged role we hold and the fragility of those we work with and of ourselves. I believe it would be a tragic loss to exclude intimacy as an integral part of a quality working relationship for fear of over stepping the mark.
How do you define intimacy in your working relationships?
What challenges you about the notion of intimacy in a professional relationship?
Where have you experienced intimacy in your work and how has this impacted the relationship?
If you would like to be a part of CoachesConnect 2013 do get in touch. Follow me on Twitter @verawoodhead