Ethics 101-Listen

By Michael J. Marx

More than any other skill, listening is an absolute pre-requisite for being a good coach. If you cannot wait to say what you want to say, you might not be listening hard enough. Hearing takes in the sound. Listening takes in the meaning. Coaches know that listening happens at varied levels of depth and intensity. We are in a time when deep intense listening is required of us all.

At the center of every ethical mishap I have encountered is a coach who was not listening well to the client and/or the circumstances.  Here are some indicators in a coaching conversation:

  • The dropping of volume in the client’s voice.
  • The shifting of rhythm from fast to slow.
  • The tensing of the muscles and the dilation of the eyes.
  • The seeking for affirmation: “Am I making sense?”; “Is this normal?”; “Am I crazy?”

The world has been suffering from an epidemic of lack of listening. The cry for help is loud, clarion, and forceful. Professional coaches are not functionally called to be peace makers, rebel rousers, truth seekers, or social advocates. We are called to listen, and help clients move forward. We live a time of turmoil, confusion, and high emotion. People are screaming (quite literally) to be heard. It is not effective coaching for you to defend a position or speak your mind when you really need to be listening.

Those of us with the gift of listening are needed now more than ever.

  • Listen to the heart
  • Listen to the suffering
  • Listen to the injustice
  • Listen to the fear

The Bible tells us to seek out and help the oppressed; to honor them and be generous to them (Proverbs 14:31). Think about your clients, past and present. Seek them out. Listen to them. These days people are feeling a heightened sense of ability to express themselves.

  • Might you be a safe person for them to talk to?
  • Are they feeling marginalized?
  • Do they feel like a voice unheard?
  • Would YOU be that person who listens?

Reach out to those who need you to listen. Listen well.

If you have comments or questions, please direct them to me at: Michael@NewTrailsCoaching.com

Michael J. Marx, MBA, EdD, PCC, CPCC, CPC.

Michael is an ICF Professional Certified Coach specializing in business coaching and leadership communication. Dr. Marx has served as the leader of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Global Community of Practice on Ethics. He also serves on the ICF Independent Review Board and leads their team for the Ethical Interpretive Statements. Additionally, he is a past-president of Christian Coaches Network International and the author of Ethics and Risk Management for Christian Coaches (2016). Recently, he has founded a non-profit called Coaching Suicide Awareness.

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