The way a coach listens to their client plays a huge role in the direction, and success, of a coaching session.
Two of the ICF Core Competencies are particularly involved in listening. The first is core competency #4, Coaching Presence, which also forms the very center of The Target Approach model. The other is core competency #5, Active Listening.
The ICF definitions of each give direct clues as to how to listen:
Competency #4, Coaching Presence is the “ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.”
Competency #5, Active Listening is the “ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression.”
Listen with Your Whole Self
To be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship means you have to be paying full attention to all that the client is saying, which includes their tone of voice, choice of words, their ideas, their concepts, and their body language if you are in-person. You have to be curious about the unique way this client processes their thoughts and feelings, not what the coach interprets their ideas, concepts, tone or choice of words to mean. By being client-centered encourages client self-expression, which strengthens the client’s self-knowledge, and a deeper connection to their unique way of being.
To find out more about the unique bird in this picture, read on….
Enter the Client’s World of Language
As an active ICF MCC, PCC and sometimes ACC Assessor, I listen to a lot of coaching sessions, along with the coaching of clients I’m mentoring for their credential or coaching skills development. I’m always paying attention to how the coach is paying attention to their client. Let’s say a client wants to be more effective in how they lead, not just more efficient. The coach may have their idea about what this means, but the coach needs to be asking the client for their definition and meaning of the words and concepts they use, rather than the coach assume they know.
Give Space for the Client to Express Themselves
If the coach interrupts the client regularly, or sounds as if they can’t wait to give their thought, opinion, their feedback, or validate what they heard the client say, I know the coach isn’t being fully present and engaging their listening skills at a deep enough level.
It’s a skill to develop – to be spacious in your listening and be in full connection with your client. To know when to be silent and when to speak. If the coach’s voice is significantly more noticeable than the clients, then the coach is speaking too much and listening too little.
Regularly Hone your Listening and Coaching Skills
As coaches, we need to be honing our coaching skills on a regular basis, so we can continue to be of the best service to our clients. Come join as in The Mentor Coaching Group to tune up your coaching skills, prepare for your ICF credential through your coach training school or directly with the ICF. Or if you need Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEU’s), our program carries 10.5 hours of Core Competency CCEU’s. We know you will improve your listening, and your coaching presence!
It’s a Kookaburra! Now for the picture I chose. It’s of a Kookaburra, which is native to Australia, where I’m originally from. Also called a “Laughing Jackass,” these creatures would wake me at sunrise, so I don’t miss them for that! But I do miss their unique sound.
The 2014 Australian Open Tennis Championships are currently on in Melbourne, and I’m watching a lot of tennis and hearing the unique sounds of Australia. Here is a link to how a Kookaburra sounds when they ‘laugh.’ If this link doesn’t work, put the phrase “what does a kookaburra sound like” into a Google search. We’re all like a Kookaburra as we are all unique!