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  • Writer's pictureNeil Ralph

How do you show up?

Updated: May 22, 2023

Have you reflected on how you show up in your coaching sessions? Because how you show up and the parts of you that you share with your client have an impact on the relationship, the session, and the outcomes for both you and your client.

When we talk about showing up, we refer to the amount of yourself that you choose to reveal to your coachee and they to you. When you coach, you bring your whole self into the room – but probably share only part of yourself. These are often the “coachy” parts that confirm you as competent, capable, professional, and impactful. You may notice that you show up differently with different clients, as your assumptions about and expectations of the client will shape the coach that you think you should be in each relationship. How much of you is then left at the door, unavailable to you and your client, and how much could these other parts strengthen you as a coach and enable you to better serve your coachee?

The coaching relationship is not unique in this sense. We make conscious and unconscious choices about what to reveal within any relationship. In the helping professions, however, what we reveal and what we choose to keep hidden will have a consequence for the client relationship, and for our impact. Your coachee will, of course, be making their own choices about who to be as a coachee, which parts to present and which issues to bring that reinforce their persona of choice.

It is quite legitimate to withhold some information to keep yourself and others safe. We need to be watchful to avoid oversharing or inappropriately prying. However, developing the ability to reflect whilst coaching will allow you to notice those parts that are helping and those that hinder. Noticing makes previously unconscious decisions conscious and creates an opportunity to analyse patterns in your choices. You may decide to make different choices in future due to this heightened awareness, accessing previously underutilised parts that may catalyse new insights and learning.

Developing your awareness of what you share and what you withhold reveals valuable information for you and your client. Choosing to reveal it allows you to develop an authenticity that strengthens the professional relationship, allowing deeper, more impactful work to take place. Sharing at this level requires openness and vulnerability: these qualities enable a rich and rewarding working relationship, allowing coach and coachee to experience transformational shifts.

So, which parts do you keep hidden? Perhaps, the insecure part of you that questions your competence; the playful part that wants to have fun; the courageous part that wants to try a new approach?

How about the other parts that join the session uninvited? The distracted part that has other priorities; the judgemental part that knows better; the impatient part that is frustrated by the slow progress that is being made; or the bored part that would rather be elsewhere? After all, we are all human!

How you show up is a reflection of only part of you. It shapes the session, moulds the relationship and either restricts or enhances your impact.

So, in your next supervision session, make time to explore how you typically turn up to coaching sessions, and whether this is the best version of you, that offers your client the best service.


With thanks to Fares Hamouche and Iz zy on for sharing their photos on Unsplash

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