Active listening is focusing completely on both what a client is saying and is not saying within the context of who they are to gain understanding of their meaning. In coaching, the listening is to help the client gain clarity and not to become engaged in the story. Taking this competency to a higher level means cumulative listening that also extends to hearing the future develop. Highly effective listening involves hearing the client’s expertise and their limiting beliefs.
If a coach is listening through their own filters – perceptions and models – then they are not actively listening. If a coach is focused on analyzing, identifying problems, or responding then they will fail the active listening competency. Passing evaluation of this competency will not happen unless the coach is listening with awareness of the client’s filters instead of their own. It also calls for the coach to incorporate the nuances of the client’s language when rephrasing and in the conversation.
When a coach is effectively using active listening, the client feels heard and understood. This enhances their willingness to be open and to take the conversation to a deeper level. This in turn supports competencies three and four – establishing trust and intimacy and coaching presence.