I recently heard relationship expert Esther Perel talk about communicating. She said that the key to great communication is being able to listen. It’s not about getting your point across, making yourself understood. It’s listening. Really hearing what the other person is saying, or trying to tell you.
Something you might not know about coaches? We’re really great listeners.
Coaching isn’t about telling someone what to do, churning out advice, sharing our great wisdom. We may make the odd suggestion, tell an anecdote, share some insight.
But a coach’s primary job is to listen to their client.
This is key to coaching.
What is, and isn’t being said.
Listen, pick up on tone, words, body language. Pick up on hesitations, stumbling, facial expressions. Notice what’s being skirted around, what isn’t being said or tackled. Spot fiddling, hand wringing, scratching of the head. Averting of eyes. Or someone lighting up.
A coach’s job is to listen to what the other person is or isn’t saying, and then to probe deeper. To ask good questions. To get to the bare bones of what a person is thinking or feeling or wants.
What a coach is aiming to do is get the client to come up with answers for themselves on what to do next. It’s providing them with a space in which to be honest. It’s giving them the time to really think hard about what they want. Pushing them to come up with a step they need to take, which is going to move them forwards. Out of feeling stuck, and into feeling great about taking action.
It’s kind of like holding their hand and giving them a nudge in the back at the same time. You won’t get away with just sitting there talking. With the coach’s help, you’ll also be making a plan, and taking action.
Coaching is all about helping someone to do the things they need to do, to get them to where they want to be.
My first visit to a coach, helped me break out of this little bubble I’d been sitting in, telling myself that the only options for me where a similar job in a similar company. Which is not what I wanted. In that first session, I started to realise there were opportunities out there that I didn’t know existed.
My coach listened to me, then asked me if I’d considered X, Y, Z. It was so simple. But for someone to suggest I could do something different, based on what interested me, was mind blowing. It was a like a switch went off in my brain. She challenged the story I’d been telling myself, that I was stuck, and that there was nothing interesting out there for me.
She simply listened, and asked questions. Good questions. She guided me into discovering new possibilities for myself. I felt heard, understood, validated. And motivated.
If you’d like some coaching sessions with me, find me here on LinkedIn , or email me at email@example.com.
Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.