Coaching is all about listening skills and asking the right questions.
A coach carefully listens to what your client has to say so that they can guide them according to their client’s concerns and experiences WITHOUT taking their own perceptions into account. Yes, asking questions is a part of listening skills.
This is going to sound confusing, but a coach should never offer advice based on how THEY feel, think, or have experienced certain situations. Instead, it should be about their client.
Listening skills play an extremely important role in coaching and you need to have strong, active listening skills to make sure both you and your clients are satisfied with the sessions.
And how do you do that? But understanding how active listening works and how you can become an active listener.
Why Are Listening Skills Important in Coaching?
Before becoming better at listening we need to understand why it is important to be better at listening, especially for professional coaches.
If you are considering becoming a coach, you must have already explored your responsibilities and work profile. You will be helping and guiding people to improve in a specific field or area of life.
You can be a life coach, relationship coach, or business coach, your responsibilities, as a coach, require you to understand where your client is struggling and help them overcome that, right?
Now, in order to properly understand what your client is struggling with you will need to know their situation, beliefs, and actions that are creating or leading them to the problem they are facing. And for that, you will need to listen.
How to Become an Active Listener?
To become an active listener, you will need to stop talking and start listening.
What we fail to understand is that listening can be done at different levels and one of the most common levels where we usually get stuck is the level where we listen to speak.
Instead of listening to what the other person has to share we listen to things that we can carry forward and use to start speaking.
Our ultimate goal is to start speaking as soon as they are done or cut them in the middle to tell them about your similar experience or whatever you have to offer to that conversation.
This is something that you will need to eliminate from your practice immediately. A coach should know how to avoid talking or giving advice in the middle of a conversation without letting their client complete it.
Active listening is not restricted to just listening to the words that come out o your client’s mouth.
You will have to be active enough to pay attention to other things such as their body language, expressions, breathing patterns, and silences in the conversation.
Everything has something to tell you about your client and these signs and symbols are going to help you be more effective as a coach and a communicator.
Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills
Here are a few tips to improve listening skills for coaches and professionals who require to have active and quality listening skills:
- Listen to Hear
Your intention should be to listen to hear and not speak. This is the first step toward improving your listening skills. Every client of yours has a different concern and there are several things that affect their situation and how they can deal with the same. In order to understand that and come up with a solution or strategy that is customised perfectly according to them, you will have to let them speak as much as they can about their problem, hows, whys, and why not.
Simply listening and letting them know with your attention and body language that you are actively listening and that everything they have to say is making sense to you is more than enough to make them feel comfortable with you and allow them to open up so that you get a better understanding of your client situation.
- Ask Relevant Questions
It is not easy for every client to share information and to help them what you can do is throw relevant questions. This is also a part of listening because you will be listening and then asking questions that will lead the conversation in the right direction.
Don’t make your questions too lengthy or complicated. Very simple questions that just lead the conversation and help your client share more information regarding their concern are required here. And again, you will be simply listening to your client sharing details.
For a coach, asking questions is extremely important because this is what can make you a better coach for your client. More questions would mean a better understanding of your client which will help you create a strategy that is perfect for your client according to their situation, life, routine, lifestyle, mindset, behaviour, and health.
- Avoid Giving Advice
Contrary to popular belief, coaching is not about giving advice. You do not have to throw in your suggestions as your client starts discussing their problems. Not until you are aware of every little information that your client has to share and you will require to understand your client better.
Even if you have dealt with people with similar problems or hold your own experiences, people don’t necessarily have to use the same strategies. And even if they are supposed to follow the same strategies, you don’t have to introduce them right away.
Avoid giving any kind of advice as that is not what you are there for. Just keep in mind that a coach’s responsibility is to ask questions and lead the client to understand the root cause of their problem and find solutions. You are there to guide them not to share your point of view, experiences, and expertise.
Sometimes, the advice that you have to give is known by the client from the beginning and sometimes it can be misleading or triggering for your client. It is better to refrain from doing something that can be termed insensitive or make your client feel that you are not interested in listening to what they have to say.
- Understand the Body Language
Listening is not just about words. Oftentimes, body language speaks louder than words, and you, as a coach, should know how to listen to this language as well. This is what makes you a better listener and improves your listening skills.
When you listen to the body language of your client, you get to know what exactly is in their mind that they may be hesitant to share. With these signs, you can help your client feel better and safe, guide them to feel more comfortable, and avoid subjects that may make them uncomfortable.
Moreover, an idea of body language can also help you develop solutions and strategies that will not negatively affect your client.
- Be Patient With the Silence
Not every silence is supposed to be filled. There are times when your client will choose to be silent for a while and as an active listener you will understand the silences as well. To improve your listening skills you will need to identify which silences are supposed to be filled and which are not.
A better listener will be patient with silences and let the client take their sweet time instead of repeating or asking more questions.
- Lead the Client Into Finding Solutions
Finally, your questions and listening skills should help your client understand their problem better so that they are already aware of the possible solutions.
There is no doubt that as a coach you will be offering your clients solutions and strategies that they will have to follow for their betterment but instead of introducing them to the solutions out of the blue, it is better to guide them towards it.
And this is only possible if you actively listen to your client, ask relevant questions, and understand their body language. Leading someone to a solution is something that you can achieve as a coach only if you have a strong hold on your listening skills.
Read more: 10 Qualities Of A Great Life Coach
Coaching as a profession may be a little demanding but it definitely is as promising as well. Someone confident about their communication skills and wishes to help people in a specific area of their life or career should definitely consider stepping into this profession as soon as possible. The profession is currently in trend and it certainly has comparatively less competition than it shall be in the future.
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