In coaching, we are rightly concerned with our personal development, our self-observational skills and our in-the-moment monitoring of our body/mind/spirit as we work with others. Indeed, this practice is evidence that we have got beyond the early stages of professional development and the attachment to our models. We can now notice who and how we are in our work, so that we can manage ourselves to serve the client better. We are able to work with the space inside ourselves, as it is impacted, and altered, by the conversation that we are having with our client. Otto Sharmer even says that: ‘the success of an intervention is dependent upon the inner condition of the intervener’ – a great observation; wish I had thought of it in such an elegant way!
But, there is more available to our awareness than information about ourselves – or our client. The cutting-edge physicists, biologists, and neuro-cardiologists inform us of the way we understand our connection with others and the energy that is in the space between us. We are far less separated than we thought we were and we coaches need to keep track of this new knowledge, for it can give a subtle but powerful edge to our work.
Lynne Mc Taggart – of ‘Living the Field’ fame – writes:
“Between the smallest particles of our being, between our body and our environment, between ourselves and all of the people with whom we are in contact, between every member of every societal cluster, there is a Bond – a connection so integral and profound that there is no longer a clear demarcation between the end of one thing and the beginning of another. The world essentially operates, not through the activity of individual things, but in the connection between them – in a sense, in the space between things ……….all living things succeed and prosper only when they see themselves as part of a greater whole.” (my italics).
So, enquiring into what goes on in the space between you and your client, between them and the system they are in and between that system/organisation and the wider political/economic/societal field, can help us become more intelligent, elegant and efficient in our work. I sometimes ask supervisees :
- What’s the colour of the space between you and your client?
- What’s the smell of that company?
- If that team could speak with one voice, what would it say to you or to the manager?
- If you and your client were walking down the road together, describe what you see.
- If you could see/touch the link between your and your client, what would it look/feel like?
This is relational enquiry – enquiry into the energetic connection that Mc Taggart writes about.
These enquiries provoke exploration of the spaces between people, organizations and ‘things’. They begin to open up information about field conditions, which can affect the success of our coaching conversations. For example, if the energy between a client and myself is ‘sticky’, I want to pause and focus on that together. Then, there is the possibility of unblocking what might otherwise impede the coaching conversation and we can re-join the ‘flow’. This ‘field’, these ‘spaces’, carry our words, feelings and intentions. I invite you to hone your awareness of connectedness, of the ‘spaces between’ self , other and system. When I do this in my work, things that I had not even seen or imagined, open up for the client – and for me.
Edna Murdoch 2011