Everything in coaching hinges on listening – it is the key to the coaching session. Listening is also essential for personal and professional success. Even though we know listening is important – active listening is not always a common practice. Active listening shows respect and that you desire to learn and understand the speaker. Here are some active listening skills:
Summarize or paraphrase – occasionally, repeat back what you heard the speaker say such as, “So I heard what you are saying is…” or “It sounds like…” This will increase your ability to concentrate on what is being said and assure you understand the message.
Use the pause button – let the speaker finish what they are saying. Avoid talking over them or jumping in to finish their sentence. Listen – pause – then express your own points.
Observe for non verbal cues – gestures, body language, emotions, eye movements, tone of voice and inflection offer more than just the words. If on the phone, listen for energy shifts, pace and what is not being said.
Ask questions to get a better understanding – “can you say more about that?” or “help me understand what you mean”.
Focus on the speaker – minimize external distractions and multitasking to capture the full essence of what is being said. For internal distractions, practice re-focusing your attention on the speaker when your mind wanders.
What additional active listening skills work well for you?
For more resources, see the Library topic Personal and Professional Coaching.