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.
Listening Skills is the most important part for becoming a great coach. We cannot ask powerful questions without active listening. Listening what coachee says is not sufficient to help our coachees. We need to listen to what behinds the words, listen to his emotions, his values, his motive, his pattern of thinking, so that we can be able to reflect how coahee really feels, understand what his paradigm is, what his motive and main concern are. The more we show we understand him, the more trust we can gain from him, and that impacts on the results of coaching.
Sometime, we may have a conversation with coachee who has fear inside, but he doesn’t tell us directly. He may be even not awares of that feeling because it’s deep. However, it can be showed in the words he has used, his voice and tone of voice, his breath, his eyes, his body languages, especially his facial expressions. As a Coach, we needs to be completely in present with our coachee and empty our mind so that we can catch up his feelings and perceptions, gives clarification to him, shows deep understanding with no judgement or attachment.
It may not be easy to do this all the time especially for the coach who has so much ego. Ego will lead coach to judge rather than understand coachee perception. Egoistic Coach may demonstrate his nice and kind manner but hide his personal agenda to lead coachee to some set outcomes. This coach will manipulate and lead coachee by using nice leading questions or giving many advices.
The quality of coach’s listening skills can be affected by his full of thoughts, pressure at work, health problem, emotional state, and exhaustion. So, before having coaching conversation, coach needs to make sure we are completely ready in both physical and emotional states. Otherwise, we can create terrible coaching conversation and our coachee deserves better than that.
However, Coach is human. We have emotions and dilemmas of ourselves. For me, I am practicing to be aware of how I feel every moments. I start to check whether my ego is taking over me. I want to be conscious of myself and maintain my peacefulness whatever happens because I know this is the way I can help my coachees the most.
“Trust created on the foundation of how profoundly we listen to our coachee. So, Listen more than words.”
I am a Facilitator. I think I have done very well in facilitating people thinking. Most of the time, I asked questions over 80% comparing with telling during training. For coaching, I ask questions almost 100%. I believe in people potential and how they can become the best through appropriate ways of facilitating. I think Trust is the most important part of the training and coaching world. That’s why I will provide very clear placement to make my participants and coachees feel certain. I empty my mind so that I can be with them 100% and to let them to get into my world. Then, I ask and listen profoundly. To maintain self esteem of other people is also significant. To make my participants or coachee feel free to be themselves, I will tell them that my role is to help them, understand them, not to judge them. Positive feedbacks will be very useful in encouraging people to make them feel confident. Training and Coaching are about Love, Kindness, Killing of Your Ego, and Facilitating Skills. I love Training and Coaching because it helps me to become better person so that I can help others. I am very lucky to work on both areas.