Are you listening or are you preparing to speak?  

Lynne Cooper

· coaching and communication

When training coaching skills, whether to managers, leaders, advisors and others in organisations, or to those qualifying to become coaches, I find people keen to learn new styles of questioning, coaching models and approaches. Often, however, their attentiveness to their listening – how they
pay attention - can be limited, yet they believe they listen really well.

How well do you listen? You may be a great listener if you….

  • never interrupt others
  • never finish people’s sentences?
  • never dive in to help another when they are struggling to explain or make their point
  • never jump in to fill any silences while someone is thinking about what they want to say
  • never attend to messages, notifications or other distractions whilst being talked to.

If you do ever succumb to such behaviours, you’d not be alone; they are very common habits. And when building relationship with others this kind of dialogue, for the most part, will do no harm and may even help to cement the connection.

To be in service to others, however - supporting people to connect with themselves, their purpose, their desires, and to help them think through what the need to do, say or change – a very different kind of listening is needed. A calm, supportive, empathic listening that allows someone to reflect, find out more and take responsibility for whatever they wish to make happen. To achieve it listeners must let go of an urge to speak, a desire to problem solve or a tendency to opinions, knowledge or expertise, and focus all attention on the speaker.

Attentive listening creates the space for someone to reflect, gain new perspectives and change their thinking, resourcing them to achieve different outcomes – now and in the future.