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Hush…Learning to Listen 

Something happened on my journey to becoming a coach.  I learned to listen.  It turns out that I had spent my whole life not really listening.  I thought of myself as an empathetic person, a caring person; someone my friends, family and colleagues could come to for advice. 

  And that’s what they got … advice.  I would process their experience through my own filters then tell them what to do.  “How helpful am I”, I thought, “I can fix people!” 

  It was only when I started to explore what true listening involved did I realise I hadn’t really been listening.  Instead, I had been living inside my own story, processing the impact based on my experiences, my beliefs, and my values.

This of course is something we all do.  It’s human nature.  Only by really listening do we build better connections and trust, and become more competent at managing conflict.

  So what does it take to really listen?  How do we avoid our internal chatter?

We need to adopt a curious mindset.  Consider what’s going on with the speaker.  What’s their narrative?  How do they see things?  

Luckily, there are skills we can develop. 

  • Prepare to listen. Relax and remove distractions.

  • Stop talking. Ask open questions with curiosity.

  • Paraphrase, reflect or ask clarifying questions to check our understanding. 

  • Look further than the speaker’s words – their eyes, body language, and notice feelings.

  • Use metaphors to paint a picture. As they speak, what images come to mind?  Hamster on a wheel?  Free as a bird? Playing this back helps the speaker feel you have really heard them.

Like any other good habit, it takes time and patience. It is amazing what you will discover.

Claire Jung


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