Holding the Space

Wishing mom on her 80th birthday when I hugged her, she softly whispered, “You’ve taken such good care of me all these years. I got more than I could’ve asked for, and feel truly content. Today I want to declare that this year I’m ready to go to daddy (my dad had passed away more than twenty years ago).”

That moment suddenly took me through a roller-coaster of emotions. How I wanted to tell her she shouldn’t say that, especially on her birthday! But as I looked at her face, all I could see there was sheer joy, peace, fulfilment, and excitement of a teenager to go and be with her love.

Mom had been having major health issues for several years and was often in immense pain, yet she didn’t say she was tired of life. Instead, she had created this journey to a destination that felt exciting to her. What a level of acceptance and awareness!

In that moment I told myself, “Can I simply take over the role of holding the space for her?”

Holding the space for someone can be an incredibly profound experience.

I was now going to operate from a space of being Neutral, Empathetic, and Non-judgmental. Asking my often compulsive ‘take charge’ attitude as well as my identity to take a back seat, I decided to just be, while trusting and respecting mom’s choices for her own life. Honestly, it was often not easy. So it became imperative that I hold space for my own self simultaneously, and focus on self-care too. A few months later, mom moved on.

This experience taught me the need to practice holding the space in our work environment. I strongly feel this has become all the more important today than it ever was. Every leader must inculcate this attribute of holding space for others.

This seemingly ORDINARY ACTION has the potential to create EXTRAORDINARY OUTCOMES.

Here are some broad guidelines for leaders to practice ‘Holding the Space’:

  • Be inclusive
  • Have deep listening
  • Be non-judgmental and empathetic
  • Encourage people to be their authentic selves
  • Be in mindful awareness
  • Be willing to accept the other in a space beyond right or wrong
  • Creating a safe space for others to express freely
  • While focusing on the next project /task, focus on the person as well

While holding the space, you will be extending unconditional and even unsolicited support to others. That does not mean you need to have all the answers to their problems. It simply means you are engaging with them authentically and are present to them.

An effective leader is someone who is apparently doing nothing and yet doing everything, by simply playing the role of a Catalyst, while holding space for others.


Rita Chadha
Rita Chadha
“Fifth Element is the imperceptible vital energy that permeates all nature, and creates Alchemy of Mind, Body, and Soul.” Rita founded Fifth Element with the mission of utilising this vital energy for the transformation of suffering and struggle into joy, leadership, success, and prosperity in the professional and personal arena. Rita is a Leadership Coach, Life Coach, and Mentor. She strongly believes that Life does not happen to you, YOU create it. Your Inner World is the main arena of creation, and life situations are merely the projection. She emphasises the need to have a leadership mindset for optimizing your ability to achieve and exceed professional/personal goals. Her intuitive Coaching style is unique with deep listening and the ability to hold the space for her clients that encourages them to be empowered into accountability and collaboration leading to phenomenal growth. Her energetic yet easy demeanour makes people relax and authentically share themselves. Her ability to make herself easily vulnerable in the sessions and her wisdom, empathy, and understanding make it easy for people to dig within and speak their innermost thoughts and deepest stored emotions. The professionalism with which the deeply rooted storage of so many non-progressive past experiences is given a closure helps people in moving forward like a leader. She is high on Integrity and connectedness and loves to experiment with the intriguing and limitless dynamics of the human mind potential. She realises that it is often not comfortable for people to accept some hidden parts and patterns. To make the process easier, she utilises a multidimensional approach. Coaching is an Inside-out transformation where shifts happen inside. Rita simultaneously utilises Feng Shui Consultancy for the living and working premises as an Outside-in transformation. Shifting the energy in their environment becomes instrumental in the transformation of the intrinsic behaviour patterns of the individual/s and shows up as enhanced quality of life experiences, making their journey easier. An additional benefit is that it impacts all the aspects of business and all the people therein. The outcome is extraordinary, sustainable, and results in exponential growth.

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  1. Not having time for others is, in my opinion, a major source of misunderstanding and frustration in human beings. It is certainly true that there is a need to get busy nowadays, and that remaining inert even for a minute is often interpreted as a symptom of weakness and insecurity on the part of others, but it is also true that never having time for others makes us less human and, consequently, less satisfied. Not devoting time to others is like that person was something more, something superfluous and unnecessary for maintaining one’s personal well-being. It is a lost opportunity, the emotional distance we create between us and the other.
    Obviously this is also true in the world of work where there is a need for managers who dedicate some of their time to employees. There is a human exchange, there is concrete commitment and not just words. There is an investment of 5 minutes of one’s time for another person, which is worth more than a symbolic sum of money or a liquidation “good” for one’s job.
    Only with time one can win over the people next to us or with whom we work.
    Because people, of any age, naturally perceive that time is worth more than money. Because dedicating your time means engaging, focusing and being present. It means giving something that will never come back.