Communications Is More Than Listening

Posted on December 22nd, 2011 by Doreen Marino

Before I started my education with the Coach Excellence course, I felt that it was okay for me to give advice.  I knew little about listening.  After going through the program, I learned to listen with my heart, and to guide people to discover their own answers.

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I now know that I don’t have the answers for anyone else – only myself.  The module, “Working with Empathy and Silence” was one of my favorites.

“Heart-Centered Listening” was a wonderful module. In it, I learned to listen and respond with both my heart and mind so that I could understand what my client is saying with words, intent and feelings. It’s about getting into another person’s world and seeing things from that perspective.

I have continued to learn through my coaching education and working with clients to let go of the judgments of others and to know that we are all led in the direction from which we will learn, if we choose to walk that path.  There is no right or wrong – only lessons.

I learned how to ask questions, and which questions would elicit the most information, from which I could move to the next question.  It was really freeing for me to know that I didn’t need to plan the course of the coaching session ahead of time.  The coaching evolves, and that is what I feel is the most fun part of coaching.  Where do we go next?

And speaking of next, once we know where the client wants to go, it was really vital to learn about the module, “Agreed Action and Accountability.”  It taught me to hold the client to what they want to do in the way they want to do it, and in the way they want to be held accountable.  The five steps to agreed upon action (establish the goal, clarify the steps, confirm the commitment, express your belief in them, and determine the necessary follow-up) were the roadmap to making it happen.

“Communication Behaviors – The Voice” taught me much about how our voices are perceived by others.  Volume, Tone, Pitch, Quality, Rate, Errors, Accent and Emphasis are all important factors of communication.  So, it was not only valuable for me to learn as a coach, it’s also valuable for my clients to learn so they are effective when they speak.

It was valuable when I learned that my clients often want to be challenged.  They may be approaching the session looking for support and accountability.  My clients are powerful and whole, and they want me to support them in reaching their top capacity.  I have the core belief that my clients can do whatever they commit to and I work with them based on that belief.   Challenging, as I learned in Coach Excellence, is about taking ownership, and stretching sometimes beyond where one thinks they can go.  If my client wants challenge, I will give it to them.

I learned how to center myself so that I would go into the coaching session feeling relaxed and confident.  I now know how to clear the space and give all of me, for the benefit of my clients.

Coaching preparation is more than just looking up the number and dialing.  How do you prepare yourself for coaching?