“Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to respond.” Stephen R. Covey
Covey is very clear in challenging us to place the emphasis in listening on the person speaking rather than thinking about a ready response. This is one of the first things we learn in our work as coaches. Coaching is not about us but about helping our clients to learn and grow. In our coach training, we will usually hear this statement: “You will have had a productive coaching session if your client talks eighty percent of the time and you only talk twenty percent of the time.” Listening is an essential part of the coach’s skill set.
We often speak of “powerful questions” almost as magic bullets in a coaching conversation, but those powerful questions only come from active listening. Listening and subsequent questions are two parts of a whole. Each is essential.
Although active listening may sound like an oxymoron, a coach actively engages in skillful listening as an effective tool in communicating with a client. The coach may not verbalize everything he or she feels, perceives, or thinks, but this does not mean that the coach is not actively engaged not only with what the client is saying but the potential meaning behind it as well.
As an active listener, the Christian coach is also listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Since we believe that God is at work in every person’s life, we listen for the work of the Spirit there. When we perceive that the Spirit is at work, we don’t force our perception on the client, but allow that understanding to guide both our listening and questioning.
How are your listening skills?
Join me on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at 1pm Eastern time in learning how to practice this ICF core competency more effectively in your coaching.
Ircel Harrison, M. Div, ACC
About the Author:
Ircel Harrison, Coaching Coordinator, Pinnacle Leadership Associates, Supplemental Associate Professor of Missional Theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminar
Ircel Harrison, is an itinerant educator. He spends his time encouraging and equipping leaders through his work with the Central Baptist Theological Seminary and Pinnacle Leadership Associates. He is an ACC certified coach with the International Coach Federation and co-author of DISCIPLE DEVELOPMENT COACHING.