Can you listen?
13th September 2018
Can you listen? Of course, I can, you might say now. Well, I found now, after starting my health and nutrition coaching, that listening is not so easy. In my studies, I am currently in the practical part. We practice coaching sessions with fellow students, practice our coaching skills and communications and what we have learned so far in theory. I had my first practice session about 10 days ago. Prepared and ready to go I hit a wall hard while going through this session. We had 30 min each of doing each side: one was the coach, the other the client and after 30 min we switched the roles around. Amongst a couple of other things, I did struggle pretty hard to fully, actively listen to what the other person was saying. I wasn't prepared for that to happen. While the other person was talking away, I tried to listen but there were millions of other thoughts racing in my head, like, 'Ok, so what question do I ask next?' ' I need to use affirmations as well', '...and rephrasing..don't forget to reflect..', 'Oh, I will ask her this question next!', ' ...and then she would have to do this in order to achieve this...', 'For dinner, I think I'll take the lamb out...' etc. It was really not funny. I realized that I could not keep going like this, because we or I would not get any further in succeeding in her session or future ones if I wasn't able to shut these thoughts and voices down in my head.
I then made a commitment to solely, 100%, focus on my 'client' in front of me and focus on her words and her sentences. Tell you what, for a brief moment, everything fell into place. I was getting what she said, I felt the feelings behind what she said, her body language, and I actually could remember what she had said, so I was able to apply one of the coaching skills which is reflective communication and then another...the questions I needed or wanted to ask just came right. Then I was back to my old listening style with my millions of thoughts. However, that taught me something:
Listening is not as easy as you think
I really need to practice more to listen actively
I need more practice coaching sessions!
As you will understand as we follow this journey, active listening is one of the most important skills a coach can have and should have! Once you master this skill, everything else will come to you.
So, when I have my old listening style I mostly tend to be anywhere else but in the present moment. I am in the future most of the time, thinking ahead of what comes next.
Through that, you miss out on some actually pretty important things: You don't really hear everything the other person is saying. You might connect the dots later together but that person might have said a tiny little word that you missed. In coaching, this could be the most important part in that session to take reaching her goals or bring them into action to the very next level. In coaching, we could miss out on the so-called 'change talk'. Change talk is basically nothing else than the client showing (indirectly) that they are ready for change, ready for a positive change in their behaviour in order to reach their set goals or even better: to admit that there is something they have to change in order for them reach a better wellbeing and health status in their life. An example of change talk would be something like this: “I can see now how this has affected my health and even my family” or “I guess I can't go on like this...”
Being able to actively listen in the real world will help you to connect more with the person in front of you. The person you listen to will also feel it when you fully listen and be present to what they say. Have you ever had the situation that you felt the other person doesn't listen properly? Is distracted? How did you feel at that moment? Was it a nice feeling? I do very much dislike when somebody is not fully listening to what I say. I get pretty much distracted myself, lose my central theme, and the whole conversation and things I wanted to say just disappear and lose their importance. Because when I feel that what I just have said (and it could be something that was really important to me at that time that I needed to get out of my head) wasn't understood or even heard I feel that I am not important enough to that person in that moment, I sometimes feel I am not worthy enough to be listened to. I feel that time I have spent talking has just gone to waste. Can you relate?
Listen properly is a skill. A skill that a lot of people have lost. Especially in today's world where everyone is hurrying and rushing along and has a million things to do at the very same time. Where we have to thrive and get better, to impress and perform. We forget to tune in to the present moment totally. We are rushing to reach the next level but through all this, we might have missed out on the tiny little things that give value, worth and importance to life, that make something little seem so amazing and big, that make someone's day and change someone's life on a big scale. By doing something so little, you can achieve big. Think of it. Try it and brush up your skill of active attentive listening – try it out and see how you and the other person will feel and how your conversation will change for the better.