An interesting observation often made is that while many consider themselves to be good listeners, most consider others to be lacking in their listening skills. Many professionals teach that when listening, human nature is to relate what is said to our own experiences resulting in a focus on memories. Alternatively, often the focus is on formulating a response.
The International Coaches Federation (ICF) includes Active Listening in the category of Communicating Effectively on the list of Core Competencies. While it sounds simple, developing the skill involves a high level of focus.
Coach training programs cover listening skills so the coach focuses on the client’s agenda. A professional coach is open to the client’s beliefs and values, hears concerns and goals from the client’s perspective, and demonstrates understanding by rephrasing what the client says and reflecting the emotions behind the words.
Coaches create the safe space for clients to vent in preparation for moving forward. Coaches recognize language and focus that is self-limiting so the coach is able to encourage the client in further exploration.
Developing Active Listening skills requires a desire and the intentional focus of the coach on the client. The coaching client experiences tremendous value in being truly heard and understood, then empowered to expand their thinking.