Listen With the Ears of a Coach
Coaches have extraordinary hearing. They are the “dogs” of the work world –hearing sounds and meaning mere mortals might miss. When listening to our clients, we are tuning into their words, tone, breath, energy, posture and that invisible message that most of us are unaware we are sending out to the universe. Yes, you might say we are the Obi-wan-knobi of professionals, a calm and willing Jedi who has no agenda other than bringing out the best and highest potential of our clients.
In the words of Yoda,
‘Do not assume anything Obi-Wan. Clear your mind must be if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot’
In coaching, the real villains are not bad or evil. They are the misconceptions, skewed mindsets, or underlying beliefs that get in the way of what we want. They’re not easy to see or hear…one must listen with purpose and intent to the client and not to the client’s story or situation. To do this masterfully, we follow key practices that bring these villains out in the open. To expose them for what they are – understandable thinking that is no longer useful given what the client wants. Here is the path to extraordinary listening:
- 1.What does the client REALLY want? Follow the client not the situation. Is it better work-life balance or is it really more opportunities for connection and relationship, more rest, more energy, to be at peace with the world as it is?
- What are potential obstacles that are preventing the person from achieving their goal, from moving forward? Is it really a lack of knowledge, time, money or energy? Or perhaps it is a perspective, a fear of failure, success or what others may think?
- What is their position? Are they in blame, doubt, reaction, delay, significance or fraud? What words does the client using? By carefully listening for words or expressions the client uses repeatedly, we can better understand the client’s position or perspectives.
- Are there consistencies in their words and behaviors? Are there conflicting or contradictory perspectives? Bring these to the client’s attention.
- What are their values? What is most important, most valued when it comes to their work or personal lives? To their goals or objectives?
- What are their strengths? How does the client demonstrate his or her strengths? What comes easy or is natural for them?
- What is their intent or motive? Action can be active or passive. Either way, it’s important to ask what their motives are.
- What is their cultural background? What role might this play in their hesitation or resistance? Our client’s behavior may be the result of their company, organization, or country of origin culture.
- What is NOT being said aloud? What is being implied? What is the client not saying directly? What are they having difficulty putting into words? What messages do you get from the person’s story?
- How is their mood – their embodied perspective? Are they energetic or tired? Are they aggravated, amused, angry, annoyed, anxious apathetic, puzzled, bewildered, or blissful?
What do they really want to tell you based on the tone of their voice? By actively listening without interruption or distraction, we hold the key to masterful coaching. Remember a Jedi coach gains power through understanding and understanding is the key to supporting others in their growth and development.