Listening is the most important skill in conducting effective coaching conversation. A coach can learn the most about their coachee by deep listening with no judgment and attachment. How deeply a coach listens to the coachee critically affects the quality and results of coaching in creating the coachee’s self-awareness and learning. Trust and intimacy between coach and coachee are built on the coach’s active listening skills. A coach who is skillful listener will be able to ask powerful questions and provide depth and valuable clarifying that reflect coachee perception and emotion, which impact on coachee self discovery and moving forward.
As the gained benefits of my coachee are the center of coaching conversation, my main focus is on developing and practicing my active listening skills. I believe that listening is the most challenging part for all coaches. Listening with no judgment and attachment takes a lot of mind practice. A coach’s self-awareness plays a significant role to make sure they are maintaining a neutral perspective while expressing empathic listening and acknowledgement. Even a coach who prepares himself/herself well before the coaching conversation can be careless at some moments and judge the coachee during the coaching conversation. Of course, the coachee can feel or sense judgment from the coach, based on the questions the coach has asked or the feedback provided, which may result in loss of trust.
To develop and practice active listening skills, I would like to share some of my guidelines as below:
Before any coaching conversation, I will…
• Put my own paradigm, knowledge, and experience aside. Remind myself of my coach role in understanding, not judging.
• Make sure there is no personal agenda or any attachments of the result of coaching conversation.
• Empty my mind, no thinking of anything in advance. This lets my intuition and intelligence work naturally on the foundation of integration of coaching skills and process.
• Practice mindfulness and self-awareness by listening to myself every moment, observing what I think and feel. (To observe ourselves is the most challenging way and much more difficult than observing of other people. So, practicing with ourselves is a great and impactful way to start.)
During any coaching conversation, I will…
• Be completely in present with my coachee and follow them 100%. I just dance with their insights.
• Listen to not only what my coachee says, but also his/her emotions, motivations, values, and paradigms behind their words.
• Catch my coachee’s emotional state and energy from his/her eyes and body languages, especially facial expression, as well as their voice and tone of voice.
• Notice languages coachee uses. It may demonstrate his/her thinking pattern, values, and interpretation.
• Be self-awareness through coaching conversation. If judging occurs in any steps of conversation, I can be aware of it and get rid of it right away.
Hopefully, these guidelines will be helpful. The more a coach expresses their active and profound listening to coachee, the more the coachee will learn and grow. People always need to be listened and understood. It’s the greatest way of encouragement and reinforcement to develop people to positive and more sustainable changes. It’s like giving the coachee oxygen. The more oxygen absorbed by the coachee, the more he/she becomes open and reasonable, and finally able to discover themselves and finally unleash their potentials.