As a coach, it’s my job to listen.
I listen with my eyes and with my ears. I also listen for my own thoughts that might bias what I notice.
Coaching is a very pure state of mind, like being in a clean room. (Not tidy but low in particles.)
In the rest of my life, my listening ears are maybe not as dialed up.
When I’m in my corporate roles or talking with friends and family or even listening to myself, I might not have the same pure, laser focus that I do when coaching.
I want to learn to practice better listening in my everyday life, more like the way I listen in every coaching session.
With that in mind, I’ve started to practice asking myself these three questions when in non-coaching conversations.
#1 Why are they telling me this?
Now, this one comes to me from coaching. I’m always paying acute attention to why they shared that detail.
It’s not uncommon for me to ask a question about time management and get a story about their Aunt Beth.
I noticed myself thinking, “I wonder why their mind decided I needed to hear that story right now.”
I started taking this question out of coaching sessions into the rest of my life.
Why are they telling me this detail? Why are they telling me this information now?
How are they telling me this story?
What else are they telling me non-verbally?
Are they making relationships between two disparate concepts?
This question and its question buddies can help you listen more intently.
People share their values, their emotional state, their logical process by the things they choose to share.
And they might not even realize this is happening! How interesting!
#2 What does this sound like from their perspective?
When you speak to someone, do you hear yourself?
I think a wonderful way to become a better listener is by paying attention to what you might sound like to other people.
Are you good at listening to what you are saying?
Listen to how they are responding to you. What do you think is going on in their head when they are listening to you?
See whether your words are likely building a bridge or putting up obstacles.
Given what you know about them, try to listen for how they are responding to you by asking yourself what your words might mean to them when they receive them.
#3 What do they want/need from me the most right now?
I love this question.
Today I was in a meeting. One person was telling a lot of backstory. It was a 30 minute call and I had one of our most valuable tech leads with me. I knew we had 18 minutes left to get to the core issue and resolve all questions. I wondered, “What does this client want/need from us right now?” along with “Why are they telling us this?”
It helped me detect that the client wants to see this conversation as a partnership…where they are the leader…and they are telling me the backstory to feel a sense of power over this new relationship.
Considering what they wanted helped me focus my listening ears. At the same time, it helped me choose my words wisely. My willingness to be the best listener possible helped me develop comfort and get the answers for my tech lead to end the call on time.
To close, I admit that I love to talk. I love to listen to the sound of my own voice. It’s true – I love my ideas and to share them!
And making an effort to ask myself excellent questions is making me so much more effective in different areas of my life…not just in my coaching studio.
I encourage you to give these ideas a try. Then come back to comment with your feedback/results!
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.