Today, I'd like to delve into a crucial topic in coaching and leadership: Active Listening.

As a leader, your role is to empower your team and individuals to unlock their full potential, assisting them in solving their own problems, and understanding their emotions so you can guide them towards self-discovery and solutions.

Now, here’s the main obstacle, are we well trained to listen to one another?

Let's clarify what Active Listening is NOT:

❌ Interrupting the person while they are speaking to inject your own ideas or swiftly move on to the next topic. This behavior is all too common in group meetings. Firstly, it sends a signal to the interrupted person that what they were saying wasn't valued. Secondly, it perpetuates a culture where interruptions prevail instead of genuine listening.

Hijacking the conversation. When someone shares a personal anecdote, instead of delving deeper into what it means for them, you respond with your own similar experience, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to have their feelings acknowledged and be truly seen.

❌ Providing unsolicited advice or offering your solutions when the person's initial intention was to share their feelings. By preemptively offering a solution, you not only miss what the person truly needs but also rob them of the chance to devise their own resolution.

So, what is Active Listening?

You can appear to be listening by not speaking, but that doesn't necessarily equate to active listening.

Let's explore the Three Levels at which you might find yourself when engaging with your team members.

Level One Listening

In Co-Active Coaching, Level One Listening is listening primarily to yourself, or your own thoughts or agenda. You could be focusing on any number of things. Maybe you’re thinking what to say next in the conversation, and so only half-hearing what the other person’s saying.

❌ The key thing is that in this Level One listening, you’re not really fully hearing the other person.

Level Two Listening

In Level Two listening you are intensely focused on what the other person is saying.

Nothing’s distracting you.

Thoughts about the past or the future don’t intrude. Even your own ideas don’t get in the way of you hearing the other person.

✅ Great news, you are now actively listening.

Level Three Listening

Level Three listening is also completely directed towards the other person, but it has a wider focus.

You hear more than just the words they’re saying.

You pick up on all sorts of other things – body language,  the inflections and tone of their voice, their pauses and hesitations.

It’s like you can hear sound effects in their mind. You can feel them straining to avoid something, or pulling towards something – and you have a sense of what that might be.

🌟 That last level of listening is a superpower in coaching and as a leader.

So, are you ready to practice active listening in your next 1-1?

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