Here are some key points that you can use as a guide to enhance your listening during coaching sessions. Use them as you require:
Be conscious of your inner distractions
We all live with some level of distracted thinking, whether we notice it or not. This makes it particularly challenging when we want to listen to someone speak for a longer duration of time.
Firstly, try not to get frustrated with yourself when you catch your mind drifting elsewhere. It’s much better to have a friendly attitude towards yourself and the whole coaching process. Just bring your attention back to the present moment.
The practices mentioned in Chapter 4 can increase your self-awareness and help you be more present. They are great ways to develop your ability to listen more deeply too. Find a practice that works for you to help you get centred and come back into the present moment.
Be conscious of outer distractions
Naturally it can be challenging to speak or listen when there are lots of distractions or noises around you. That’s why it’s best to choose an environment which is suitable and quiet where you won’t be disturbed during your coaching session.
Coaching outdoors in a park can always be inspiring and fun, just as long as you don’t get too distracted by what’s going on around you.
It’s recommended that when you’re coaching, you switch off your phone, put away unrelated reading material and focus completely on the client and being deeply present with them.
Listening more intuitively
Listening more intuitively means that you’re not just listening to the words, but also getting a sense of what the client is expressing beyond spoken words. This might mean reading between the lines or understanding their feelings.
Pay attention to your own and the client’s emotional and physical reaction as you get a deeper sense of what is being communicated. A good coach helps clients clarify their thoughts and to go deeper into important matters.
As a coach, we need to ensure that we cultivate an open mind. This means that we listen carefully without clouding what the client is saying with our own judgements and preconceptions.
This can be challenging for some, but it’s an important part of what is expected of coaches. Also, we need to ensure we don’t make any assumptions or jump to any conclusions too quickly.
Let go of the compulsion of you want to say next
We all know this common temptation and patience is key here. While someone is speaking, we have the temptation to cling onto what we want to say next. This is often because something they said sparked an idea in our mind and we really don’t want to forget it.
If it’s useful, you could jot down a few points on paper during the session. The way to overcome this is not to hold on strongly to any ideas that you might have in mind, but to let go and allow the conversation to flow smoothly.
Once the client has finished speaking, you’ll naturally have a moment to respond appropriately.
Have true empathy for the client
Empathy is at the heart of deeper listening. Having true empathy and compassion towards the client will not only develop your connection with them, but you’ll also be in the best position to be able to understand and help them in your role as a coach.
You might have been through a similar experience or you might try to put yourself in their shoes to understand what it’s like to be in the same situation. Empathy is about understanding how the other person sees it, even if you don’t see it in the same way.
Embrace the silent pauses
Listening is more an art rather than a hard science, and there aren’t any strict rules. Sometimes it’s appropriate to pause, absorb what has been said, reflect and respond accordingly. Wisdom often emerges from silent moments.
Don’t fear any moments of silence in the conversation. In fact, it is encouraged as it helps to slow down the conversation and helps ensure clearer thinking.
It shows that you are not just reacting to what is being said, but you’re actually thinking about what they have said at a much deeper level.