How to Hold Space for Others and Why It Matters

Have you ever felt truly heard, seen, and supported by someone? Have you ever felt that someone was fully present with you, without judging, interrupting, or imposing their own agenda? If you have, then you have experienced what it means to have someone hold space for you.

Holding space is a skill that anyone can learn and practice. It is the ability to create a safe and trusting environment for others to express themselves, explore their feelings, and discover their own wisdom. Holding space is not about fixing, advising, or rescuing others. It is about being there for them, with compassion and curiosity, and allowing them to be who they are.

Holding space can have many benefits, both for the person who is holding space and the person who is receiving it. Some of these benefits are:

  • It can foster deeper connections and relationships

  • It can enhance emotional well-being and resilience

  • It can promote healing and growth

  • It can empower others to find their own solutions and insights

  • It can increase empathy and understanding

But how do you hold space for others? What are the skills and attitudes that you need to develop? Here are some tips and suggestions to help you become a better space holder.

1. Set your intention and boundaries

Before you hold space for someone, it is important to set your intention and boundaries. Your intention is the purpose or goal that you have for holding space. It could be something like:

  • I want to support my friend who is going through a difficult time

  • I want to listen to my colleague who has a different perspective than me

  • I want to help my client explore their options and goals

Your boundaries are the limits or rules that you have for yourself and the other person. They help you to protect your energy, time, and well-being, as well as respect the other person’s autonomy and choices. Some examples of boundaries are:

  • I will hold space for 30 minutes and then I will check in with myself and the other person

  • I will not give advice or feedback unless the other person asks for it

  • I will not take responsibility for the other person’s feelings or actions

Setting your intention and boundaries can help you to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for holding space. It can also help you to communicate clearly and respectfully with the other person.

2. Be present and attentive

One of the key skills of holding space is to be present and attentive. This means that you are fully focused on the other person, without being distracted by your own thoughts, feelings, or external stimuli. You are also paying attention to the other person’s verbal and non-verbal cues, such as their tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions.

Being present and attentive can help you to show the other person that you care and that you are interested in what they have to say. It can also help you to pick up on the subtle messages and emotions that they may not be able to articulate. Some ways to be present and attentive are:

  • Maintain eye contact and a comfortable posture

  • Nod, smile, or make affirming sounds to show that you are listening

  • Avoid interrupting, finishing their sentences, or changing the subject

  • Put away your phone, laptop, or any other device that may distract you

3. Ask open-ended questions and reflect back

Another skill of holding space is to ask open-ended questions and reflect back. Open-ended questions are questions that invite the other person to share more about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, without leading them to a specific answer. They usually start with words like “what”, “how”, “why”, or “tell me more”. Some examples of open-ended questions are:

  • What are you feeling right now?

  • How did that situation affect you?

  • Why is this important to you?

  • Tell me more about what you mean by that

Reflecting back is the process of paraphrasing or summarizing what the other person has said, in your own words. It helps to check your understanding, clarify any confusion, and show empathy. Some examples of reflecting back are:

  • So, what I hear you saying is that you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the workload

  • It sounds like you had a really positive and meaningful experience with that project

  • I can sense that this is a very difficult and painful topic for you to talk about

Asking open-ended questions and reflecting back can help you to deepen the conversation and encourage the other person to explore their own thoughts and feelings. It can also help you to avoid making assumptions, judgments, or interpretations about the other person’s situation.

4. Offer support and encouragement

The final skill of holding space is to offer support and encouragement. This means that you are expressing your care, compassion, and appreciation for the other person, without imposing your own opinions, beliefs, or solutions. You are also acknowledging their strengths, achievements, and potential, without minimizing their challenges, struggles, or emotions. Some ways to offer support and encouragement are:

  • Use words of affirmation, such as “I’m here for you”, “I’m proud of you”, or “You are doing great”

  • Use gestures of comfort, such as a hug, a pat on the back, or a hand squeeze

  • Use expressions of gratitude, such as “Thank you for sharing this with me”, “I appreciate your honesty”, or “I value your perspective”

  • Use statements of empowerment, such as “You have the resources and abilities to overcome this”, “You are the expert of your own life”, or “You have the choice and the power to make a change”

Offering support and encouragement can help you to boost the other person’s confidence and motivation. It can also help you to create a positive and trusting relationship with them.


Holding space is a valuable skill that can enhance your personal and professional relationships. It can help you to create a safe and trusting environment for others to express themselves, explore their feelings, and discover their own wisdom. It can also help you to foster deeper connections, promote healing and growth, and increase empathy and understanding.

To hold space for others, you need to develop four skills: setting your intention and boundaries, being present and attentive, asking open-ended questions and reflecting back, and offering support and encouragement. By practicing these skills, you can become a better space holder and a better human being.

 hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it useful. If you did, please share it with your friends, family, and colleagues. And if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day

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