Active listening is listed as one of the key competences in coaching, according to International Coaching Federation (ICF)
. Active listening is defined as:
’The ability to be fully focused on what your client is saying or not saying, to understand what was said within the context of your client’s wishes, and support your client’s expression of his own personality.’
Have you ever noticed that, when you talk to someone, you are already preparing your answer in advance, without the other person even finishing the sentence or thought?
This is what we regard as “The first level” of listening – a situation in which you do listen, but you are distracted and your involvement is at minimum. Even if you are having an excellent conversation with someone, this conversation may turn out to be even more valuable and effective if you direct all of your attention to listening. Practicing this advice requires a whole new level of listening, in which all of your attention is directed towards what the other person has to say, avoiding all possible distractions and focusing entirely on that person speaking.
Active listening in coaching
One Part of the training “The art and science of coaching” is dedicated to the process of understanding different levels of listening, in order to enable participants to engage and connect with their clients in a way that makes possible for them to achieve required results and make progress during coaching sessions. When a coach works with his client, guiding him through the conversation by using powerful and open questions and by using client’s way of speaking in order to reinforce his goals, results and plans – then we can talk about “The second level” of listening. This kind of approach enables client to take lead in conversation and identify his results and required goals. After that a coach might help his client to set the action steps through which he will start a process of achieving his goals. Active listening plays a vital role in enabling a conversation that is oriented towards the client and aimed at his goals.
Active listening in leadership
Being fully present during coaching session with a client is essential for taking part in a conversation that is focused on achieving valuable results. Active listening may be helpful in any kind of conversation – when we listen closely, pay attention and truly understand what our client says, we can take part in a conversation that flows easily, leads to interesting questions and honest answers.
If we become better listeners, we can become better leaders too, as well as better coaches.