4 The art of listening
When a question is asked, really listening to the answer is vital in establishing true dialogue. Being able to listen may seem simple and straightforward, but truly listening – without interrupting or making any possibly unwanted suggestions – can be surprisingly difficult.
Non-judgemental listening ensures the coachee has space to reflect and think of actions or next steps. Within a coaching dialogue, the coach’s ability to listen is considered particularly important (Cheliotes and Reilly, 2010; Whitmore, 2010).
This notion of ‘committed’ listening is also considered to be an integral part of ‘developing relational trust’ (Cheliotes and Reilly, 2010, p. 25). Such focused listening does not mean that you necessarily agree with everything that is being said, but you are avoiding making a judgement while showing respect towards the speaker’s views (Edge, 2015).
Activity 3 Developing listening skills
The aim of this activity is to help you reflect on your listening practices. It is not always easy to listen:
- with empathy
- prepared to allow for silence
- without offering personal views and opinions.
Watch the following video and then create a list of four or five action points that could help you become a listening coach (make sure to open this link in a new tab/window so you can easily return to this page).
Establishing a coaching dialogue requires asking the right questions and listening to the answers. In the next section, two models will be discussed that may support you in the difficult task of establishing a coaching dialogue.