During my Coach training sessions for leaders in Tokyo and Shanghai, we focused on two core competencies of coaching: Listening and Questioning. Since listening is truly the foundation of good coaching skills, we spent a great deal of time practicing our active listening ability.
We began with a TED video by Julian Treasure called “5 Tips to Listen Better”. Julian lays out 5 activities that help us listen amidst all of the noise in our lives.
- Enjoy silence more.
- Listen to the many different channels of noise you hear at any one time.
- Identify the hidden choir in the mundane sounds.
- Listen from different positions or lenses—-passive, aggressive, etc.
- Receive, appreciate, summarize and ask (RASA)
What strikes me about each of these activities is that they each require one to be fully present in the moment. Isn’t that truly what listening is?
Being present and really listening to what the other person is saying, without judging or composing our own response is where we focused our efforts in the workshop. In fact we used the steps of:
Much like it sounds, when we truly listen, it’s similar to holding a mirror to reflect the face of the speaker. We are acknowledging that we see them in such a way that they can see themselves as well. For example, acknowledging that they sound very frustrated and impatient in their description of an issue reflects back to them how they are being perceived.
Asking a few questions to gain clarity on what they are expressing is another tool used by expert listeners. Sometimes words have more than one meaning and we need to understand which meaning the speaker is utilizing.
Lastly, repeating what you just heard in slightly different terms is also very effective. Even better, if you use several key words that the speaker has used in your phrasing, the listening is magnified.
If you practice listening to others using these skills, you’ll gain the reputation of an expert listener before you know it.
Contact us if you’re interested in enhancing your listening skills.
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