Coaches work on listening. We check, repeat, and rephrase our clients’ words to make sure we are hearing them. We work with clients on their listening skills. In business, in families, and in communities, better listening creates better communication.
Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” I am not sure I would agree that is it the MOST important thing, but I do think that there is merit in using all of our senses to “hear” what is not being said.
Here are three tips you might find useful in determining what is not being said.
- Use all of your senses to listen. Check body language, close your eyes and see the person as they describe a situation. Try to experience the smells, sounds, and touch when the other person is sharing what is happening to them. Picture what is happening to them. One coach describes his sessions as a seeing a movie of the clients life, complete with all of the camera angles, music, and color.
- Avoid autobiographical responses. The more we enter into the other person’s world, the more we leave our own story at the gate. Too often coaches make the mistake of filling in what is not being said with their own experience, depriving the client of self-discovery.
- Listen to the “absents”. What is missing in the picture they are painting for you? There is a story of a person who struggled with getting a promotion. He knew that he did all of the work. He was prompt, showed initiative, and received great reviews on this accuracy. As he told his coach all about the situation, she noticed what was absent. He never mentioned any person, relationship, or conversation in his story. She made the observation; he was stunned and began a conscience journey to work on awareness of people. Now as a senior vice president in a large corporation, he listens to what is being said and what is not being said.
Coaching is dialogue. The more we listen to what is said and what is not said, the more we enhance the dialogue. What do you do to improve your listening?