One of the most important coaching skills that every life coach must have to be successful is active listening. It is a skill that enables your clients to trust you and have confidence in your ability to help them achieve their desired goals.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening is one of three levels of listening. It has to do with paying complete attention to what the speaker is saying. It means being intentional in hearing and comprehending what the individual is communicating to you. You must be able to hear what they are saying and what they are NOT saying through verbal and non-verbal body language. Active listening requires constant practice and it can be developed over time. The characteristics of active listening are:
- Focusing on all words and actions (you pay attention to the speaker’s total communication, including body language.).
- Fully comprehending all that was said or disclosed.
- Processing all information
- Being able to closely repeat back what was said (this signifies you were listening).
- Doing your best to listen
- being empathetic to the speaker’s feelings and thoughts
Five Listening Skills Techniques to Help Coach Your Client
Active listening involves the following:
1. Paying attention – Being fully present in the session helps establish trust and good rapport with your client. As a Christian life coach, there is a prayer I utter before my sessions with clients, it goes “Dear Lord, help me to be slow to speak, quick to listen and quick to comprehend.” It is so important to give your clients the opportunity to speak for as long as they need to before responding. That way, you are not making assumptions and are not cutting them off in the process.
2. Withholding judgment – As a professional coach, you must learn to respect the client’s opinions, views, and beliefs. Always make your session a “judgment-free” zone. Avoid anything that may make your clients uncomfortable.
3. Reflect – It’s important to never assume you understand your client correctly. Mirror back expressions used by your client by paraphrasing the main points. For example, Client: “I knew he would lie to me about going on that trip when I stopped by his place a week later”
Coach: “So did he lie about going on the trip?”
Another example is ” It sounds like you are saying…,”
4. Clarifying – Making clear when you receive conflicting information and checking with clients to ensure that your understanding is correct. If you are unsure about something said that seems unclear, do not be afraid to ask questions for clarification. An example can be
Coach: “Just to understand what you are saying, are you saying …? Or “I didn’t really follow you; can you explain what you mean?
5. Summarizing – Repeating back or restating to the client the key details of the conversation or information they have shared with you. Restating what your client has told you helps confirm you understand what they have said, and you are both on the same page in terms of moving forward.
Repeating the key details back to the client may sound like this
Coach: So, I just want to summarize what you have just shared… You witnessed the Nurse, on a couple of occasions giving the wrong dosage to the patient, although she is good at her job, this is the second time she has done this and you have tried to talk to her privately about it instead of going to your supervisor, but she dismisses you because you are a Nursing Assistant, her subordinate. Am I correct?
Active listening is not just a skill for life coaches alone, but for every individual who interacts with others whether on a professional or personal level. It improves the trust, and rapport with your co-workers, your clients, your supervisors and most importantly, with your loved ones. It is certainly an essential skill to have as a professional life coach.
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Writer, Coaches Training Blog community