Are You Really Listening?

Hearing is the act of perceiving sound.  The ears and brain work together to process those varied sounds.  You then identify what that is.  Is it the sound of wind?  Or that of a door slamming shut. Same noise, different identification. 

Listening is more than just hearing.  It involves understanding what someone is trying to say.  The focus is not merely on the words.  Non-verbal communication forms a very large part of the listening process.

In order to listen well, PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to the non-verbal cues.  Eye contact is particularly important.   The saying that the ‘eyes are a window to the soul’ holds deep truth.  Lack of eye contact gives the perception that you are not really interested.  Even a quick glance at your phone indicates that you are not fully present.

The Coach needs to grasp the intent of the spoken words. Is the coachee emotional when speaking?  Is there an avoidance of eye contact ?  Do you see that ‘lost in the air’ look on the face?  All these reveal messages beyond what we see on the surface. Matters that we need to dig deep and examine for clarity. 

Listening is a two-way channel.  It involves responding and summarising to affirm the meaning of the message.   Ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS.   Nod to acknowledge.  Smile genuinely.  Understand the different perspectives.  Avoid judgement.  Choose the moment to interject meaningfully.  Never listen just so that you can fire questions.  Listen to understand!  The heart of the matter is usually the matter of the heart.

Active listening requires patience.  Give time for the coachee to articulate.  The process of clarity is much like peeling an onion.  It is done a layer at a time.  The dried outer parts are the easiest to remove. The deeper we peel, the more tears will flow.

The next time you say the words “I hear you”, make sure you have listened well.

by IAC Masteries Practitioner, Coach Lim Poh Chin, MACC Writer

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