Active listening is one of the most vital coaching techniques. As a coach/mentor you have to WANT to listen. Active listening means withholding judgement about what is being said. It is important to concentrate on receiving the message without attempting to react to it.
Listening is the ultimate compliment, because if I listen to you – not just hear you – then I am doing you the favour of trying on your ideas. That is a very generous and complimentary thing to do.
Everyone has a deep-rooted need to feel listened to and understood. No one goes to work saying “I can’t wait to be misunderstood today!” Dispute resolution bodies (e.g. ACAS and Relate) state that in most cases a party to the dispute will, at some point, state the problem as – “they don’t understand me!”
Trigger words can cause a kind of emotional deafness by involving us in the exercise of our own private thoughts and prejudices.
Finally, one of the most important points of all is that part of listening is really proving that you have listened. “I heard what you said, now I’m going to tell you what I heard you say” establishes whether listening has occurred. This is NOT reacting or making judgements on what is said.
So the good listener is the person who doesn’t just work at it, but who shows some evidence that the job has been done – the person who says things like:
“Let me check that I’ve got that right, are you saying ……..
“What I heard you say was…………… is that correct”
“Have I understood that correctly?
The motto of the good listener is “Receive before you react”. Using a coaching style of management lends itself to become a good listener.