October 26, 2016

How to Listen


Good coaching involves good listening. There are many ways you can "listen" to what your colleague, boss or employee has to say. Use the techniques below to improve your listening skills, strengthen the relationship you have with your coachee and show respect.

Purpose: To create an open mind so that you can listen, free from your own filters, to the other's point of view.
How to do it: Turn down the volume of your own internal chatter by reminding yourself that it is both useful and respectful to understand the speaker's words, thoughts or feelings.
For example: "Linda, I can hear that you are bothered about something. Why don't you tell me about it."

    Ask probing questions
    Purpose: To get more information and deepen understanding.
    How to do it: Ask basic questions using "who," "what," "when," "why," "where" or "how." Make sure the intention of your question is to seek more information, not to veil an evaluation or challenge. Try to avoid questions that seek a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead, make them "open-ended."
    For example: "What other concerns did the team express about the proposed change?"

      Check Perceptions
      Purpose: To confirm something you suspect the person you're talking to may be thinking or feeling. This deepens your ability to understand and empathize with the person.
      How to do it: If you "read between the lines" and pick up any unspoken assumptions, conclusions or feelings the speaker may have, name them and then ask if your perceptions are correct.
      For example: "Linda, you still seem kind of agitated. Do you think people are doing this deliberately?"

        Purpose: To validate what the other person has said and confirm what you think you heard him or her say.
        How to do it: Repeat back what you understood the person to say. Offer them a chance to confirm if you heard them correctly.
        For example: "What I heard you saying, Linda, is that you are finding some members of the team are resistant to the improvement team idea. Is that right?"

        For an easy-to-print version of this page, download the Inquiry Tools for Getting Information tool.