It’s been my experience that only the most expert of practitioners can explain the basics of their discipline in simple terms.
Where those who are less-than-expert blather and quote theory at you, the expert converses with you, sharing their personal knowledge in accessible language.
Karen started by getting us to listen to her explanation of four levels of listening we engage in:
Cosmetic Listening: Familiar territory for nearly all of us! The kind of listening that engages your face and body (so the speakers feels you might be listening) while leaving the mind free to roam from shopping lists to planning the next hour or the next holiday.
Engaged Listening: During which you actually listen, but with maybe half an ear – whilst preparing what you’re going to say when the speaker draws breath.
Active Listening: These conversations progress quite slowly, because the listener is really listening and, when they speak, asks relevant questions – rather than making statements or offering unsolicited advice.
Deep Listening: The intense level of focused listening that professional Coaches are capable of. This deep level of listening entails noticing not just what is said but the way it is expressed, the accompanying non-verbal signals and the thoughts behind the words.
it’s skilled and difficult work, because the Coach is not simply a sounding-board, but a trusted guide – helping the person they’re coaching to investigate issues, examine options, decide on courses of action and find the resolution to act on those decisions.
So the questions asked by a Coach must be carefully chosen and worded. Karen told us it was important to ask open questions (those which begin, for example, with ‘What’ or ‘How’), and very important to ask only one question at a time . And, she explained, a Coach should avoid beginning a question with “Why…..?”. “Why” questions are likely to throw those questioned onto the defensive – implying they should justify a decision or action.
REFLECTIONS AND INSIGHTS
Karen then got us to examine the balance in our Life Wheels (similar to this one) where the outer rim was 10 out of 10 and the inner scores decreased to zero in the centre.
When we’d all completed our wheels, Karen pointed out that it was as much an exercise in identifying how blessed one was, as it was in noting areas for attention. And she was right – we all had a number of high-scoring spokes near our wheel rims. But if we’d taken any of the wheels on the road, they’d have made juddering progress, as specific spokes, such as Self-image and Recreation/Fun, dipped toward the hub.
So we paired up and, using our new awareness of active/deep listening, discussed with each other what could be done about these neglected areas of our lives.
As Karen had predicted, being listened to in such a focused way was enough for some of us to diagnose the problem, examine optional actions and come to a resolution – while the listener barely uttered a word.
It’s amazing what you can get done in the hour before dinner. Especially with the help of an empathic ear and an expert guide.
Before we settled to dinner and further discussion Karen gave us lots of tips on free online resources to follow up on – but those notes are lost………I’m still working on the “organise your note-taking” resolution! Just don’t ask me “why is it taking you so long?” – you might undermine my resolve