“What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone”

“What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone”

by Heather Plett

An attribute frequently associated with facilitation is “to make easy”, to help things be easier for someone. This can involve many ways of helping that are visible and concrete, while others  are subtler, such as the ability to “hold space” for another. In Heather Plett’s article she explores what this means through her experience of supporting her mother as she was dying. As Plett and her siblings were caring for their mom at home, they, in turn, were being “held” by a gifted palliative care nurse,  who provided  both practical and emotional support as, facilitator, coach, and guide… offering gentle, nonjudgmental help and guidance.”  Plett’s definition of “holding space” involves being:  “…willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on, without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.”

Plett notes that sometimes we find ourselves holding space for people while they hold space for others and that everyone needs this support at times: “ Even the strongest leaders, coaches, nurses, etc., need to know that there are some people with whom they can be vulnerable and weak without fear of being judged.”

She also offers 8 very useful tips to keep in mind as we grow in our ability to hold space for others, that involve shared power, trust, not overwhelming the person, and offering guidance with humility and thoughtfulness. Plett emphasizes that this role is not limited to professionals: “ It is something that ALL of us can do for each other – for our partners, children, friends, neighbours, and even strangers who strike up conversations as we’re riding the bus to work.”

Regardless of our role in facilitation, there is much to reflect on and learn from Plett’s article.

Click here to read “What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone”

– Submitted by Susannah Joyce, Realizations Training & Resources

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