I happened upon the poem below, by Louie J N Gardiner , and it prompted me to reflect on how present I am when I engage with people, particularly when coaching.
I try to approach all interactions, professional and personal, from a position of equipoise, i.e. from a neutral position, intent on hearing objective truths. I don’t just reserve this approach for people, but apply it in all aspects of my work and life. It’s a skill I learnt through the science, or art (depending on your perspective), of qualitative research during my doctoral studies, and it has one that has served me well.
As someone who was trained scientifically, one of the most important learnings for me in coaching was to recognise that people’s feelings are often an objective truth for them, and must be understood as such even when I don’t understand or, indeed, when they themselves don’t understand. Feelings often remain an objective truth despite the fact that physical facts point to a different reality. For people, feelings are real. That doesn’t mean that they should simply be accepted, unchallenged. However, I best serve by really listening to the messages, and seeking first to understand, before jumping in.
Of course, in my personal life I frequently wobble off my equipoised perch, particularly when harbouring strong feelings on a subject. Just ask my family! Therefore, coming across Louie’s poem prompted useful reflection. I’d like to think that in my coaching at least, I set personal interpretations aside and “heed the beat to which your heart skips and your soul sings”. This poem serves as a useful reminder of the importance of protecting that space “between you and me“.
Between You and Me
Between you and me, there is no beginning, no middle and no end. What is the beginning is a middle and an end; each is itself; and each other, is. Who I am is whom I have always been; and also whom I have become from what I have done and what I have not done. What I have learned from what I have done and what I have not done, is all I could have learned; until I have done more and not done more, to learn more. What I have learned is that doing more is being less; and doing less is being more; and in doing less, I have more to give; and in giving more I become more. And for all this, what I have done is passed and in the past; and what I can be for you and with you, is to be discovered between you and me. And between you and me, in the wide-open spaces of future possibilities, we will dance the dance of you and me enforming flow - my in-flow, serving you; and you, in flow unfolding forth as you heed the beat to which your heart skips and your soul sings. There is a beginning, a middle and end in everything. Here in the current between you and me, all is present. So, in this place made of you and me, let’s end and begin again. Together. © Louie J N Gardiner 28th December 2010, 1st February 2015, 13th May 2018
How much attention do you give to the space between you and others? In a world full of distractions, it is easy to interact on a superficial level. Are you present in your interactions? If not, are there things you could do to change this?