When listening actively, the Coach is fully engaged in what the client is saying, and shows sincere interest and curiosity. Coaching at an advanced level requires understanding a client’s emotional state both through the words the client uses and how they are spoken.
When done correctly, the Coach:
- Attends to the client and his or her agenda rather than a personal agenda.
- Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values, and beliefs about what is possible.
- Distinguishes between the client’s words, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues.
- Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and/or mirrors back what the client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
- Integrates and builds on the client’s ideas and suggestions.
- Understands the essence of the client’s communication; helps the client “cut to
- the chase” rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
- Allows the client to vent the situation without judgment and then moves onto next
When you listen actively, you are able to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self‐expression.
Try to practice the three levels of listening throughout your week:
- Level 1 is internal listening. At this level, there is a heavy focus on ourselves. We listen and think about what the speaker says as it applies to our situation, judgments, and feelings.
- Level 2 is focused listening. At this level, there is a sharp focus on the speaker. We listen with the speaker’s goals, opinions, assessment, and frame of reference in mind. As a coach, you are listening to more than words, but also the tone, pace, and feelings expressed.
- Level 3 is global listening. At this level, there is a sharp focus on the speaker and an awareness of unexpressed thinking, feeling, and emotions.
You will know you are listening at all three levels when you are tuned into what is going on internally, what you experience from the client being coached, and what you experience from your environment and cues. Practice listening at all three levels during the course of a coaching session. Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I thinking, feeling, and experiencing in regards to what the other is saying?
- What is the other saying with their words, voice, and nonverbal cues?
- What is not being said and what does the context tell me about what is going on?
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