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Graham Hooper – Coaching Conversations (3)

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Listening is probably the most underestimated skill, mainly because we all like to talk!
As a coach, listening is a skill that requires practice, and it is a good idea to put yourself in the right frame of mind to listen. Five minutes of sitting and relaxing before delivering your driving lessons will help you to focus. You may want to look at mindfulness techniques as these may help you also to prepare to focus.

Active listening requires you, as the coach, to allow people to talk so that they can think better. Being listened to helps build confidence in the client. Often people are not listened to daily, and we all end up shouting to be heard. You, as a coach, should actively demonstrate that you are listening; there are several skills that you can use to demonstrate this:

1. Using body language, such as nodding, facial expressions, smiling and leaning in.
2. Staying quiet, using silence – people need time to think.
3. Repeating the last few words, summarising what has been said and paraphrasing into your own words to clarify that you have understood, such as If I am right, you mean ……..
4. Avoid completing someone’s sentence or guessing what word they want to use.
5. Don’t compare to yourself or use one-upmanship
6. Don’t doodle! Even though, for some, it aids listening, the perception can be that you are not paying attention.
7. Don’t get distracted by other things, like what’s happening out of the window.
8. Remain still and calm, don’t fidget.

I first became aware of Active Listening whilst studying coaching at The University of East London. My lecturer, Dr Jonathan Passmore, had written a book called Excellence in Coaching, an Industry Guide, and on page 17 of that book, he used an example of the five levels of active listening. That has stuck with me, and I would like to share it with you.
Level 1
Planning what to say instead of listening to what the speaker is saying. This is the most irritating level of listening because the speaker can tell that the listener is not listening.
Speaker: ‘I think we should arrange a staff meeting about that.’
Listener: ‘Yes, but the answer is to hire some consultants.’
Level 2
Giving a reply that is about the listener, not the speaker. This is probably how the majority of conventional coaching conversations are conducted.
Speaker: ‘I don’t know what to do about getting a promotion.’
Listener: ‘I’ve put in an application to move up a grade.’
Level 3
Giving advice. This is still more about the listener than the speaker and can be close to Level 1, in the irritation stakes, if the speaker is looking for a sympathetic ear rather than direction.
Speaker: ‘I don’t know what to do about getting a promotion’
Listener: ‘If I were you, I would …………
Level 4
Listening and inviting more. People often work things out while they are talking and a prompt from
the coach may help the flow.
Speaker:’I don’t know what to do about getting a promotion.’
Listener: ‘What are you not sure about?’
Level 5
Listening behind and between the words; listening to the silences; using ones intuition.
Speaker: ‘ I don’t know what to do about getting a promotion.’
Listener: ‘What are you not sure about?’
Speaker: ‘I have to arrange a meeting with the boss and I never seem to find the time to do it.’
Listener: ‘What’s getting in the way?’
Speaker: ‘Oh, I don’t know. I’m busy, or she’s busy. I don’t seem to be able to stop long enough to work out how to do it.’
Listener: ‘Is there anything else that’s stopping you?’
Speaker: ‘Actually, I keep putting it off because I hate asking.’
Listener: ‘And why do you hate asking?’
Speaker: ‘I am afraid she will say no.’
If you take the time to analyse these levels of listening you may find many familiar themes when you are holding conversations, whether business, social or family.
At level 5 you can see that the listener gained an insight and that the fear of rejection was the block and not the lack of time.
If you have any comments about these short articles, then please do not hesitate to leave a comment or if you like them then hit the like button on social media.
It’s nice to know someone is listening.



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