April 3, 2018

Agile Coach Toolkit #5: Active Listening

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Have you ever been in a situation where someone is talking to you and when they ask a question like, “What do you think?” you realize that you were zoned out? At that point, with slight embarrassment, you ask the person to repeat what she/ he just said. It is difficult to maintain focus on listening to a person due to many interruptions and distractions (audible, visual or other senses).

Listening actively to others is one of the most powerful tools you can have for effective coaching. There are 3 levels of listening –

  • Level 1: Internal listening – You tend to listen more to your own inner voice rather than focusing on what is being said. At this point, you may be making opinions or be judgmental.
  • Level 2: Focused listening – At this point you maintain a laser sharp focus on what is said by the person. At this level, you are listening intently to every word and “listening” to every nuance in the conversation.
  • Level 3: Global listening – At this level, you are able to uncover the underlying meaning of the spoken words and are conscious of the emotions of the person. This enables you to connect with the person.

For effective coaching, you need to be at Level 2 and then have the ability to listen at Level 3. At times, you may find yourself drifting to Level 1. In such cases, you will need to make conscious effort to bring yourself back to Level 2 for a meaningful coaching experience.

Tips for Active Listening:

  • Get rid of distractions like mobile phone, laptops or other electronics, move away from noisy places.
  • Before the conversation, become self-aware by taking a moment to assess your mood and clear your thoughts.
  • Maintain an open posture – unfold your arms, unclench your fists and keep good eye contact.

Active Listening is difficult to master and requires a lot of practice to get better at it. It is very effective when used with “Asking Powerful Questions”.

Have you used this technique? If yes, please share your story.

 

References

Agile Coaching – Rachel Davies, Liz Sedley

http://www.coactive.com/learning-hub/fundamentals/res/FUN-Topics/FUN-Co-Active-Coaching-Skills-Listening.pdf