Listening is one of the critical contexts not only for coaching, but also for building up the collaborative relationship in business. Actually, to be truly listened to is a striking experience, partly because it is so rare. When another person is totally with someone, then leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize, he must feel seen and understood. People open up when they know they are really being listened to, then they expand and have more presence. They feel safer and more secure as well, and trust deepens. A true commitment to listening well is quite important in any conversation, especially critical to effective coaching.
Although everyone has listening capability as one of the talents, listening is also a skill that people can learn and develop through training and practice. Masterful professional coaches have taken their abundant gift and brought it to a high level of proficiency. They use it with the same unconscious grace same as an athlete uses in a sport or a musician in a performance.
Most people do not listen at a very deep level. In everyday listening people listen mostly to the words. The focus is only on the words in the conversations. People usually start a conversation but within seconds they’ve disconnected to process the words internally or to pay attention to one of hundred other distractions whether they are also important, just attractive, or simple nagging. They seem to live in a mostly wireless world where they connect and disconnect internally and invisibly, and same things happen in the usual conversations.
The absence of real listening is especially prevalent at work. Under pressure to get the job done. The workers listen for the minimum of what they need to know so they can move on the next subject as soon as possible. It’s no wonder people feel like mere functions in a whirling machine, not human beings. It’s no wonder that employee engagement is a serious issue in organization today. Although everyone’s talking, no one’s listening.
In the effective coaching, effective listening is one of the most critical factors. The outstanding listeners know how to maximize the listening interaction. The effective interaction creates the series of actions in listening, definitely not passive hearing.
There are two aspects of listening in a co-active context. One is awareness, and the other one is impact.
Awareness includes the information that they receive in what hear with their ears, but they also listen with all of their senses and with their intuition. They hear, see, and experience sounds, words, images, feelings and energy. They listen not only to the person but, simultaneously, to everything else that is happening in the space.
The second aspect, impact, points to the effect of listening on others. To be an effective listener, they need to be conscious not only of what they are listening to, but also of the impact they have when they act on their awareness. Most of the time, this consciousness occurs just below the surface while the attention is still on the other person.
Clearly, listening is not passive, especially in the coaching relationship. Then the listening context in the coaching model can be utilized for business conversations and collaborative relationship.