A Coaching Model Created by Martina Malavenda
(Relationship Coach, ITALY)
Listening to someone seems to be one of the most intuitive things a person is supposed to put in practice: we believe it’s enough shutting our mouth when someone else’s talking and starting speaking up again when they’re finished, and that’s it. Mission accomplished!
This skill is so taken for granted that it is, most of the time, considered in the same way as “breathing”: it’s natural and you should know how to do it, but most of all, how to do it RIGHT.
Unfortunately, it’s neither simple nor natural. When we are having a conversation with a person, our ego gets easily into place: for a start, we want to feel listened to, we want to be right, we want to be the main character of the story and it seems we have very little room to welcome others.
Listening actively to someone means being able to focus on what another person is saying without getting distracted, it’s being present in the moment of the conversation and it’s asking questions about words, expressed concepts, non-verbal clues for a better understanding of the other. It requires us to “sacrifice” our own needs, opinions, ideas of something being right by putting them aside to listen to another.
Listening is the purest form of altruism, respect, presence, sharing, love. Absolutely one of the most difficult and counterintuitive things to do for our human nature and it takes practice.
According to psychologist Carl Rogers, active or deep listening is at the heart of every healthy relationship. It’s also the most effective way to bring about growth and change. Those who are heard tend to be more open, more democratic in their ways, and are often less defensive. Good listeners refrain from making judgments and provide a safe environment and container for speakers.
The primary purpose of listening is to truly understand the other person’s point of view, how they think and feel and how they ‘move through the world (Zeus and Skiffington, 2000)
The L.I.S.T.E.N coaching model
L = LEAN TOWARDS WHAT YOU DESIRE and get the picture of your reality and what you would like to accomplish for yourself.
In this phase, by using the T.O.M.S. set of questions (Topic, Outcome, Meaning, Success measure), the coach guides the client to define what they would like to address during the time they have with their coach, what makes it important and what makes it concretely achievable, so they are able to understand their current situation. The coach listens carefully and asks questions to understand whether there may be an issue beneath the issue and to discover the client’s motivations and values.
I = INDULGE WITHIN YOURSELF and take a moment to explore what’s important for you beyond the other. In this phase, clients will explore their own beliefs and values through the coach’s active listening, paraphrases, acknowledgments and direct observations which are customized by using what the coach has learned about who the client is and the client’s situation. This is a moment of awakening and for the client to eventually reframe a perspective.
S = SUSPEND YOUR JUDGEMENT and dream big! Very often our ego appears when we want something but the step we need to take seems too big: we deliberately decide to not take action and to confine ourselves to complain about the circumstances. Here come the judgments on what and who we are surrounded by, expecting that something or someone else magically moves or changes and makes our dreams come true while we stay comfy on our pedestal. By suspending our judgments on others out of ourselves and understanding how to get responsible for our situation, we are able to get the big picture of our reality and move from a disempowering perspective to an empowering one. Thanks to the coach’s powerful questioning and paraphrasing, in this phase clients will achieve a deeper awareness of what the other person’s perspective and needs are, along with visualizing ideal situations and having a better look at how else they’d like to feel or experience their relationship.
T = TACKLE THE GAP AND FIND A MIDDLE GROUND
This is a good moment to understand what worked in the client’s past, what has been done already or successfully accomplished and what could be used again in the present situation. Moreover, eventual issues and obstacles could be uncovered in this stage. The coach invites the client to explore past and present resources, strengths and eventual barriers which could prevent the client from achieving their goal. In the end, the coach supports clients in defining the learning and new perspectives they have gained.
E = EVALUATE OPTIONS AND SOLUTIONS AND GET TO THE ACTION PLAN
In this phase, the coach partners with the client to go through options and actions in a brainstorming mode: what could be taken into account to get to the client’s goal, what the client chooses among the others and prioritize, and what the client can do starting today. The results can go from creating a list of specific action steps to exploring the client’s support systems (friends and family who can support them to reach the goal yet books and further materials they can draw meaningful lessons from)
N = NOTICE YOUR PROGRESS
Going through such self-exploration, understanding what we want and at the same time being able to comprehend another person’s perspective, taking responsibility for our situation and choosing to act instead of observing from a corner and complaining requires courage, the ability to perceive us as imperfect and to get vulnerable yet humble by taking a step back and glimpse new perspective.
All of this deserves to be seen, acknowledged and celebrated.
In this stage, the coach guides the clients to notice the progress made and to acknowledge and support themselves for it.
Listening is at the core of every healthy and successful relationship and ultimately the core of my coaching practice. This model has been thought for single clients who struggle to have healthier relationships and want to achieve a better level of interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence (as managing strong emotions) and to better handle conflicts with the partner.