Trusting….

In coach training, we talk a lot about “trusting the client” in several what if scenarios. Like, what if the conversation starts going in a direction that wasn’t part of the agenda-setting – “trust the client” and make it overt that we are “off track.” What if they say they want to work on X but I can see Y is really brimming for them – “trust the client,” share observations and let them choose. Follow their lead. 

As in all things, I then start to wonder about the applicability of this for other things – usually interpreting first, then students, then faculty/colleagues. What does it look like to trust the other party? Now, in the coaching realm trusting the autonomy & agency of the client is specific to the coaching relationship in which we are both there for THEM -they are the point, the agenda, the endgame. But the concept of trusting the other, even in different circumstances is intriguing to me. How about for you?

This morning in my journaling I was writing about the fallacy of, “if I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself” and that that is not indicative of trusting the other. Trusting their autonomy & agency, trusting their genius, trusting that they bring gifts to the scenario, trusting that they have abilities/skills that I do not have. It is assuming I have the “right” answers or the “best” way to do something. How arrogant!?! 

I want to learn how to stay engaged with other people at the helm, trusting their genius, their abilities, their insight. Not blindly, but trusting that they have more than just a suggestion, they have actual offerings that will work.

  • If I trusted my students, I would….
  • If I trusted my consumers, my actions would….
  • If I trusted myself, I would…
  • If I trusted my colleagues, my actions would….

Questions to deepen your practice:

  • What does trust mean to you? 
  • What would it mean to trust the consumers you serve? The teams you work with? 
  • What would it mean to trust yourself and your work? To trust yourself to be responsible for the good, bad, and ugly? 
  • What is at risk when we do not trust the consumers? What is the benefit when we don’t trust them?

Holding space

Holding space can seem a very vague and “woo-woo” term, but it just means being with someone non-judgementally in whatever they are doing, experiencing, or needing.

This requires actively setting aside our own preferences, interests, and opinions in order to create space, a non-judgemental space, for the clients to entertain and engage with one another’s thoughts, preferences, interests, and opinions. It does not mean I don’t matter but rather this isn’t the place for them. It requires that I truly engage the value of autonomy and activate my belief that the many “right” ways to be a human are beautiful, and to recognize the honor and privilege I have to bear witness to them. 

Barriers to holding space:

  • Judgement of what is occurring
  • Preferences about what should be occurring
  • Belief that you are responsible to fix it

Questions to deepen your practice:

  • What barriers do you experience to holding space for consumers? 
  • What do you need to be able to hold space for others?
  • What is the relationship between your interpreting and/or teaching practice and the idea of holding space?

Interpreter Presence

In my coach training, we have been learning about the professional credentialing body of many coaches internationally (International Coaching Federation). We have started in earnest to collect our practice hours and start having individual feedback sessions with our teacher. In a recent session, we were discussing the rubric used to evaluate coaching session recordings by ICF. There are a number of categories, as you might imagine, but I want to talk about “coaching presence,” and the potential applications I see to this concept of presence for interpreters and interpreter educators. 

According to ICF, coaching presence is defined as, “Being fully conscious and creating spontaneous relationships with clients, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.” Some of the criteria used to evaluate is: 

Competency 4: Coaching Presence

  1. Coach’s questions and observations are customized by using what the coach has learned about who the client is and the client’s situation.
  2. Coach inquires about or explores the client’s use of language.
  3. Coach inquires about or explores the client’s emotions.
  4. Coach inquires about or explores the client’s tone of voice, pace of speech or inflection as appropriate.
  5. Coach inquires about or explores the client’s behaviors.
  6. Coach inquires about or explores how the client perceives his/her world.
  7. Coach is quiet and gives client time to think.

It seems to me a helpful frame that may be missing from interpreting and interpreter education. We do talk about impartiality, and being skilled but not about how we show up to the job and hold space for the communication event for which we were hired. We do not talk about the active work that it is to be present and yet withhold judgement, hold space for whatever needs to happen. It isn’t just a matter of being “neutral” (which we could argue about for eons and its impossiblity), it is about living out, actively, our values of non-interference, autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice (see Beachamp & Childress 2001). 

How we show up in a space need not be happenstance, it actually requires active cognitive and emotional work to be present and make space for the interaction that we are responsible for, to hold space, regardless of our own preferences, opinions, etc. It is tapping in to a belief that its not about what *I* think should happen or needs to happen but rather about what the interlcoturs need to happen.

Developing an interpreter presence mantra, questions to deepen your practice

  • What do you believe about ways of being human? 
  • What do you want to remember about your function as an interpreter in other’s interactions? 
  • What do you want to contribute to the space? Anxiety, calm, openness, etc? 
  • What do you want to characterize your presence as an interpreter in interactions? 

Potential mantras:

  • I am a calm presence.
  • I am open to the communication that occurs here today.
  • I understand people who use sign language and English, and they understand me (modified from a workshop participant recently).