You’ve probably been there. You are pouring your heart out to another person, expressing your most vulnerable thoughts and emotions, and it’s clear to you that they aren’t really listening. They are simply waiting for you to finish so they can speak their mind or share their thoughts. The entire time you’ve been talking they have been in their head, thinking of what they will say next.
Although this may appear to be rude or callous, most of us have been conditioned to listen to others in this way. We want to show support and share advice, so instead of truly listening to the other person, we are thinking of what would be the best thing to say and not really listening at all.
As a life coach, strong communication skills are essential. Coaches work with people who may be expressing the deepest vulnerabilities and struggles in their lives. As professionals, we must be able to help our clients process the issues they are facing so they can move forward. A huge part of this that is often overlooked is the power of listening.
In fact most people, and especially those working in helping professions, think that they are good active listeners. In reality, most of us do not listen very attentively to others. We become distracted by the things going on in our own lives or the things going on around us. In order to coach successfully, it is critical to develop the listening skills needed to be fully present with your clients and give them the attention they need.
Passive vs. Active Listening
So let’s talk a little bit more about listening as it pertains to life coaching. There are different levels of listening to consider when working in the client-coach relationship.
Passive listening is really just hearing what the other person is saying without reaction or interruption. At the same time, the passive listener is not really paying attention and does not have the goal of giving feedback or understanding the other person. This kind of communication does not work well in the client-coach relationship.
Active listening, on the other hand, shows a true understanding of the other person and the experience that they are trying to express. Active listeners show that they genuinely get it. As a life coach, active listening skills allow you to focus on what your client is saying, while also intuitively understanding what they are not saying. Then, using this information to support clients in expressing themselves, coming to realizations and making forward progress on their goals.
Are you really listening to your clients?
Actively listening to your clients means that you are forgetting your to-do list and everything else happening around you and being completely present with your client. When done right, you will be able to uncover hidden intentions and meanings behind your client’s words to make faster progress in your work.
4 Tips for Effective Active Listening
Establish an environment that makes active listening possible. Do your best to keep away from distractions on your phone, computer or those from others in your office. A calming environment sets the tone for active listening and effective communication.
Body language communicates a lot, not only to others but also to your own brain. During in-person sessions, be sure to face your client with uncrossed arms and legs. Make eye contact and show positive reinforcement like nodding your head and leaning forward.
Get clarification on what your client is expressing by asking questions. Open-ended questions are best in order to help your client express what they are trying to say. Good questions also reinforce active listening skills by encouraging you to stay alert and focused on the words your client is speaking.
Asking good questions is a great way to get more information from your client and clarify what they’re saying. Another great skill life coaches can use in their practices is to ask for feedback from their clients. Repeat what the client has said and ask them if you’ve understood them correctly.
Sometimes we think we know what others are saying, when in fact we are misinterpreting it based on our own expectations and experiences.
Life Purpose Institute – Life Coaching Programs
Life Purpose Institute has trained over 7,000 life coaches on how to become effective life coaches and start successful coaching businesses. As an International Coach Federation accredited training school, our programming teaches the fundamentals of coaching and provides continuing education opportunities for professional growth. Our coaches benefit from the personalized attention they receive and the variety of convenient formats that we offer.
The methodology used at Life Purpose Institute has been effective at teaching over 1 million people across the world. Are you ready to start your career as a life or spiritual coach? To learn more about our programs and how to get certified as a life coach, contact us today. Get ready to start your career helping people to make the positive changes they need to create a life they love.