The art and skill of holding space is an essential skill to master. What does it mean to hold space, and why is it so crucial?
The Art and Skill of Holding Space
The most valuable gift we can give other people is to create an environment in which they feel safe to share their truth. Whether that truth is joy or sadness, a tale of courage or a tale of fear, an expression of love or of anger. When we create this environment, we give others permission to fully express themselves without filters, masks or trying to mold to expectations. In this space, we allow others to become who they are.
This is the art and skill of holding space.
What does it mean to “Hold Space”?
Holding Space In Conversation
To hold space is to bring pure presence to another person (or to yourself, but that’s for another time).
To hold space is to listen, with full attention and focus.
To hold space is to listen without judgment, bias, or preconceived ideas of what the person is going to say. It requires us to listen without thinking about our reply while the other person is talking. It requires listening without interjecting advice or comment. It requires staying neutral: not defending yourself, disputing facts or meaning, or planting ideas that advance your interests.
To hold space is to allow another person to express their truth. In their words.
As a space holder, our only job is to pay attention: to hear what a person says and what he doesn’t say. To truly hear, we must listen not just to the words a person uses, but also to what is said between the words: to the energy, emotion, vocal intonation, and body language. As space holders, we are tasked with creating a strong enough container to support the opening of a person’s soul.
To hold space is to allow another person to be in their experience, without impacting that experience.
The role of a space holder is not to offer comfort, soothing words, or to share the tears. Nor should we offer advice or suggestions on how to fix what is wrong, unless explicitly asked. Our speaking role is limited to reflecting back what we hear without projecting our stories, beliefs, or values.
Other Forms of Holding Space
Holding space is not limited to conversations. Another form of holding space is to give someone the space to do what they need to do, or process what they need to process.
Why Is Holding Space So Important?
Crucial to Creating Connection
Holding space is crucial to creating connection. More than anything else, our world runs on relationships. Real relationships are built on a foundation of trust. When we hold space for others, we create a container in which they feel it is safe to be vulnerable. This open the door for trust.
Creating and holding space is the foundation of meaning in our lives. It fuels relationships, growth and self-discovery.
the consequences of not creating space
If we don’t hold space for others, we don’t allow for relationships to go deeper than the surface. We may have interesting conversations, but we won’t facilitate unmasking. We will not reach our truth. We will not touch what’s real. We will not truly connect.
When we don’t hold space, we occupy that neverland of what Sheri Turkle calls “alone together”: the illusion of being connected, while being completely separate.
A Skill to Master
No matter what you do in life, you must master the skill of holding space. It impacts every relationship in your life and business.