Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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3.1 Listening

Dr Julia Yates explains why she believes that listening is the most important skill of all.

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In his Introduction to Coaching Skills (2017, Chapter 3, pp. 27–40) Van Nieuwerburgh explains that ‘if people listen to us genuinely and attentively, we feel more confident about our topic and are able to think about and discuss it more fluently.’

For example, an active listener will:

  • maintain eye contact
  • keep open body language
  • make encouraging sounds and nod
  • allow silence.

Most coaches will aim to speak 20 per cent of the time, allowing their client to fill 80 per cent of the conversation. Compare this to a normal social conversation which tends to be closer to 50/50.

Activity 3 Listening skills

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch this video taken from the OpenLearn course, Three principles of a coaching approach [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . The commentator in the video focuses on summarising, but in order to summarise effectively the coach needs to listen carefully to what his client is saying. Is this coach demonstrating good listening skills?

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Make a note of some of the things that the coach doesn’t do well.

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Now watch this video. The coach is demonstrating good listening skills, which enable him to summarise his client’s situation more effectively.

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Make a note of some of the things that the coach does well. Focus on listening and summarising.

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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Comment

Listening and summarising are very important coaching skills, and a coach’s ability to reflect and paraphrase what they are hearing can often be key to a client understanding their issues more clearly.

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