I enjoy my Bollywood Dance classes once a week with friends. The thrill is when we finish one song then deciding on the next one. ‘Oh this is too slow!’ ‘ this is an old number’ etc. Our dance teacher also patiently shares different song numbers, trying to pick what would appeal to us – trendy, slow & soft, classical etc. Trying to decipher what is the popular mood of the day for the group. Last week, after lots of deliberations, back and forth we finally decided on a song. As we played the song a few times trying to do a final selection, it struck me that half the class thought it was a slow song and the other half thought the same song was fast. A Curious case of same stimulus, different responses.
This experience reminded me of my Coaching course when we were doing our Peer coaching. As I finished my session, my Mentor Coach said to me ‘ you were kind, empathetic however conversation was not moving, you need to dance in the moment with the client’. Few minutes later, I listened to the feedback that my peer received after his session - he was told you were rigid about steps and pushing, you should dance in the moment with the client. I was confused. We had two distinct approaches, however same feedback. A Curious case of same cause, different effect.
I love the sound of this concept. ‘Dancing in the Moment’ is one of the core competencies on which coaches are assessed by the International Coach Federation and it’s a key skill for coaches. It is a lovely expression to conjure up the flexibility, nimbleness and agility of a coach who is fully present with their client – allowing the client to lead the agenda of the session. The coach follows the client’s steps and lets the client determine the direction and pace.
The textbook definition of dancing in the moment says that: Coaches are dancing in the moment when they are being completely present with the client, holding their client's agenda, accessing their (the coach's) intuition, and letting the client lead them.
As experts, tell us – ‘Coaching is a dynamic process and a coach must be able to respond to constant changes in the client’s goals, needs, thoughts, actions, beliefs, experiences and priorities. Every change in the client requires the coach to make an immediate adjustment to keep in step and decide “in the moment” which techniques, questions or approaches to use. By dancing in the moment, we are helping clients think for themselves – rather than doing their thinking for them.’
What does this draw from dance ? Coaching is of course different from dancing the tango together, the similarities is in the mindset around presence. Research around this helped me learn that it is taken from the American tango. In the Argentinian tango nothing is fixed. There are no prescribed steps. The movement and the dance arise from the connection, being attuned to each other, interacting in the here-and-now and shaping the dance together. You can only dance well if you can surrender to the dance (the process). Practicing with the principles that underlie this moving together offers a great opportunity to deliver a transformative experience for clients creating both depth and fun.
It needed me to do lots of unlearning and re-learning. Coaching sessions are best for a maximum of 60 minutes. Often as a Coach you stress yourself somewhere at half time am I moving on course towards the goal. This triggers stress and takes on away from the here and now leading to a decline in the outcome as you stray from focus to the person in front of you.
I strive to develop this powerful tool everyday. It needs work and I determine to strengthen this muscle everyday. Meditation really helps me to pause and slow. I can see listening improves. It has helped me get comfortable with the unknown, feel at ease in the twists and turns in the conversation, to suspend judgement, to offer questions rather than answers and let my client lead the agenda.
As a Coach , Dancing in The Moment means we are fully present we do not have a pre-determined roadmap for how far or even where the conversation should go. We follow the ICF competencies in our conversations, using a collective thinking process. As a coach I remind myself every time that my role is to hold a safe space for my client and facilitate reflection. Allow my client to pick their learning, insights, behaviours they wish to work on for change. Enabling a process of self-discovery is what I focus on.
My aim is to - Trust my client fully as a creative, whole and resourceful person and in turn earn their trust so that one can follow and lead with absolute faith and do a beautiful dance of joy and breakthrough.’