Holding space

I am used to waiting. In the world of client servicing, one of the lessons I learned early, is that responsiveness to a client’s need is crucial. It’s often about being available at that crucial moment when I am most needed. I often say to my team and to all the classes that I teach, “clients don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.”

A few days ago, I did something completely out of character. A podcast prodded me into action. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to send the message to a prospective client. Normally, I like to think things through. Analyse the pros and cons. Evaluate the possibilities and then act. In this instance, while on my evening walk, midway through an episode of the podcast something the speaker said, made me literally stop in my tracks and act. I pressed the pause button, typed out a message, and hit send.

What happened in my head that made me act differently?

Let me tell you what the podcaster said. “I was holding space, in my head for this client, waiting for them to let me know if we were going to work together… and I did not realise how much that was taking out of me”.

The conversation then went on to evaluate the definition of Coaching and whether it was appropriate or not to proactively reach out to a client when they were not forthcoming about their need. In Coaching, we are taught that it is always about the client and never about us. In a very literal sense, “Don’t intrude into the client space. When they are ready they will open up and come to you. Vs. My agenda is to get a new client and therefore chasing the client is not truly in keeping with what a good coach should do…”

What changed my mind, was a deeper reflection on the very definition of what Coaching is. ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.

The “partnering with clients” part of it places the coach as an equal in the relationship. Hence the courage to act. I had done a sample session with a client a while ago. One that I felt went really well and I was very much looking forward to working with that client. However, the weeks turned to months and I had not heard back. I did not realise how much of my mind space I was occupying, hoping for that client to reach out to me and say they were keen to start working together. The happy ending to this story is that my message was acknowledged and I have a new client!

Mind space is precious. The more I free it up, the more creative and curious I can be. Having me in a healthy mind space is what will serve my clients best.

When I translate this experience and learning into the world of public relations, I see many parallels. The biggest reminder I give myself is that as an agency partner, I need to behave and own that proposition. To be a good partner, I must have the courage to take proactive action when the need arises. To be in service of does not mean that I act only when asked to. Not a new thought for sure, but definitely one that needs reinforcing. To add value in a thought-provoking and creative way that inspires clients…. This is my mission. As a coach and as a communications consultant. The intersection of these two worlds continues to excite and amaze me.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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