I just finished a 4 and 1/2 hour exam in order to qualify for the highest certification in the relatively new field of health and wellness coaching.
Preparing for an exam may not be an enjoyable process but it sure has the potential to deepen one’s understanding of important concepts. And in this case, it did. Studying methodically these past couple of months, I found myself appreciating the core principles of coaching in a whole new way.
I’ll spare you the details of such things as The Transtheoretical Model of Change, and Appreciative Inquiry and Motivational Interviewing and Non-violent Communication and other theoretical stuff (all of it eminently fascinating, by the way) that was covered on the test.
Rather, I’ll share with you three simple ideas, distilled from my review of materials, which have practical use for all of us as humans. By no means is their value limited to coaching situations.
I’ll be so bold as to guarantee that if you have the presence of mind to apply them in your daily interactions (be they with partner, children, friends or co-workers), you will enhance your life as well as those fortunate enough to encounter you.
Here they be:
- When you’re with someone, whether it’s your spouse or the cashier at the supermarket, be fully present with them, without distraction. Multi-tasking (yes, that includes looking at our digital device), while conversing with someone, sends a mixed message. If you’ve been the recipient of someone’s divided attention, you know how unfulfilling it feels. To be truly present with someone means acting as if nothing else in the world matters more at that moment.
- When engaged in conversation, try to really listen with both your head and your heart. Tuning in to what another is saying, paying attention to both their language and the emotion which underlies what is being expressed, can lead to a richer understanding of what they are trying to say. As tempting as it is to be thinking ahead in a conversation, planning our response, it limits our ability to fully grasp what the other is trying to convey. By being an empathic listener, you can help others feel both heard and understood – something we all desperately want for ourselves.
- Appreciate the beauty in silence. Gaps in conversation can feel uncomfortable at times, yet they can be wonderful spaces for fuller awareness, if we allow them to be. In our eagerness to chime in, so as to impress others, we sometimes lose an opportunity to gain new insights into life. Silence can be golden in so many ways.
To recap, by being fully present, listening deeply to what others are saying, and learning to embrace an occasional pause in our conversations – we can bring more or our self to every human encounter and improve the quality of our relationships. And as we strengthen our relationships we enhance our own health in measurable ways.
To your health!