It happened again….she asked me a specific question, I barely got out a sentence, and she began talking about herself, her own experiences, and how she solved the problems of the world. Because this has happened before, I can’t really explain why I was so frustrated. Because of my nature, I just always assumed the next question would be loaded with an authentic desire to know what was in my heart. But alas, it was her own voice and opinions that she wanted to hear. Then I felt my face flush and my pulse increase. Have I done this to others?
Listening. Really listening. It is such a gift. An incredibly precious gift. As coaches, this is the highest compliment we can give anyone who comes into our sphere. The people who approach us for coaching are being so brave and courageous. They are hoping for someone to listen to their world with empathy and sincerity. Their initiation is an invitation for us to honor their spirit and personhood well.
There are many great books and articles out there about listening well. I would like to highlight a few points that can make or break a good coaching session.
- Eye contact. I’m a note taker so sometimes this can be difficult. However, eye contact is a strong indicator to the speaker that you are truly listening. Phones should be on silent and out of sight.
- Body language. Leaning in to the speaker, keeping your arms relaxed, and not excessively moving.
- Reflecting back the coachee’s statements or words, especially with questions like: “tell me more; how do you feel when….”
- Verbal affirmation. This can be in the form of “Wow” “That’s amazing” to a short prophetic word that calls out the gold residing within them. I did a short prophetic word to a highly gifted man who couldn’t decide between two equally valuable options. After the word, it was like a light went off in his head and he knew exactly what he needed to do. ( Inside, I’m going “whew!” ) How to do this wisely is a topic for another day!
Great listening skills validate the spirit of your client to a place of safety where exploring possibilities can begin. Security gives the green light to share thoughts that have danced around their heads so fast, they can’t capture them long enough to thoroughly examine them. Our job is to help them capture those thoughts long enough to safely explore.
Honing our listening skills may be as easy as taking a deep breath, asking God how He sees this person, and relaxing in His wisdom. The world needs your gift of listening.
Christy is an author, teacher, life coach, wife and mother. She has a Master’s degree in education and owned a retail business for 13 years. She worked with Youth With A Mission for several years and traveled to 13 nations. She directed Sozo inner healing sessions at her church in Texas. She currently resides in Redding, CA.