When coaches coach, they do so with a huge range of skills which are brought to bear on any one situation with a client. It does not matter whether they are coaching athletes, business people or regular everyday clients. Coaches must employ different skills and abilities to ensure they can assist their client in reaching the best outcome they are capable of.
It is obvious that the coaches coach by talking to their clients. This enables them to ask the right questions in order to find out more about them, their habits and ways of living, working and/or performing (depending on relevance). But talking is not the most important skill a coach should have. When an expert is coaching the coach they will ensure they realise that listening is arguably even more important than talking.
What does listening achieve in coaching?
If someone elects to see a coach, they are doing so because they wish to improve one or more aspects of their life. Thus a coach should not spend the better part of a coaching session talking. They must know exactly what to ask and when so they are able to extract the information they need from their client. By finding out what the client has to say and what the client feels about their progress – or lack of it – in life so far, they can assist in steering them in the right direction in the future. This is all done more by listening than by talking.
Why do open ended questions result in more successful periods of listening?
Many coaches coach by focusing on asking open ended questions rather than closed questions. A closed question is one that can trigger a yes or no answer. For example you might ask a client if they are looking forward to their coaching session. Here they have every opportunity to say yes or no. But if you were to ask them what they hope to achieve in their next coaching session, they cannot answer in such a way. This is an open ended question and it has the power to elicit a stronger and more in depth response from the client.
Of course coaches coach by using a variety of different methods. They are always learning and developing their own skills just as they assist their clients in learning and developing their own. But there is no doubt that listening is one of the most important skills a coach can have.
By Moe Nawaz Mastermind Strategist & Coaches Coach
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