Many perceive themselves good listeners. At the same time, upon observing themselves and reflecting, many also realize their listening leaves something to be desired. This is normal and it is also worth noticing and changing.
What gets in the way of listening? Distractions, noise, hurrying, tiredness, thinking about other things, too many talking at once, or a lack of interest. In addition, as humans, when someone is talking, we may be so focused on our response we miss hearing what they are saying. Often, we are analyzing the speaker, the message, or how it is being said. When someone says something that reminds us of our own experience, we get so caught up in remembering our experience we miss hearing what they said.
How can coach training help me listen better? During coach training we talk about active listening, listening with the intention to understand. Rephrasing, defined as succinctly summarizing what was said using key words of the other person, is both discussed and practiced. Reflecting back what is behind the words deepens the practice of rephrasing. As coaches continue to learn and practice, they use cumulative listening, listening over time and recalling what was said in the past that is applicable now. Coaches learn to listen on many levels considering context, circumstances, personalities, motivations, etc.
In the same way coach training teaches and develops listening skills, working with a coach who has completed their coaching certification is an opportunity to experience being listened to as well as to observe and learn from listening being modeled.
The benefits of listening, while often forgotten, are also obvious. It saves time, prevents misunderstandings, enhances communication, improves relationships, and makes life more enjoyable.