by Jean-Paul Cortes
Human beings normally have two ears, nevertheless it's our one mouth
that takes the show. Even if most of us describe ourselves as "being
good listeners," what we end up hearing most of the time is ourselves.
We may be born with the ability to listen, but listening effectively is a skill that must be mastered. If you're a life coach, ever the more so.
As with learning any other skill, there is theory and there's practice.
First, the theory:
The essence of powerful listening is being able to focus on what another person is saying without being distracted.
When someone speaks, they want to feel heard, this need is ingrained in all of us. Human beings need to communicate, when we can't or feel that we're not being listened to, it affects that most basic part of ourselves – our self esteem.
As a coach, sometimes you're required to listen to what'sbehind the words being said to you. Words describe our reality, what we interpret our world as being like, although it may not be immediately apparent.
True listening can provide the insight you need to help your clients shift perspectives that may be harming them.
Listening allows people the space they need to articulate andsee different and more empowering perspectives. The central purpose of listening is to understand someone's point of view, how they think and feel and how they move through the world.
As a life coach, you're listening for what inspires a client, for what excites them, sets them free and keeps them moving forward.
You listen for what would fulfill their dreams and hopes, and for what may be getting in the way of reaching their dreams.
How would you rate yourself as a listener?
Do you believe that listening is just about hearing until the other person has stopped talking, so you can share your thoughts about the situation?
I'm sure you must have caught yourself doing, or thinking, about other things while someone has been speaking with you.
It's hard to be an effective listener, but here are some tips to help you on your way:
Listening is much more than nodding your head up and down while someone is talking, it requires paying attention and presence of mind.
A lot more is said behind the words because language is only the description we make of reality. The mental map we create of how we believe things to be; so in listening, what we're attempting to do is to understand what someone is trying to describe and not our own description.
So you might have guessed already that a big part of listening, is actually in asking questions, waiting for the answer and figuring out what the meaning is behind the words.
Asking questions is actually the sister skill to powerful listening, but that is the subject of another article.
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