One of our deepest human needs is to be seen and heard.
As a coach, the ability to create this safe space for your clients, is not only fundamental to the success of your session, but it’s a priceless gift that costs you nothing.
Yet we live in a society inundated by noise and distraction so it’s really hard to be present with ourselves, let alone with others. To escape it, we get out our camping gear and cruise into nature (hopefully we go for more of an adventure than car camping in an RV parking lot). Or we put on our running gear and head to the nearest lake or forest to pound the ground, hopefully leaving our anxieties behind.
Sometimes we extricate ourselves from the daily grind for more than a long weekend and book a retreat—Vipassana (silent); meditation; yoga; inner child; Zen; Buddhist; writing, vision questing; wilderness skills-ing—just to reconnect with ourselves in that quiet place of inner knowing. And only once we’ve achieved that level of presence for ourselves, can we offer it to another.
In a coaching session, the alternative to listening with your whole being is distractibility (glancing at the clock every time your client blinks for longer than a second) or fidgeting (clicking your pen with your thumb in a mindless, repetitive way) or thinking about banalities (alphabetizing your grocery shopping list or color coding your book shelf…in your head).
The problem with this is your client will feel it. Your client, by default of his/her human nature, is primed to detect your umming and ahhing in inappropriate places and your yawn, that’s just wide enough to pass as a jaw stretch, before your eyes start watering. C’mon they know when you’re not listening.
And, more importantly, you know when you’re not listening. And it’s the surest way to shortchange your client’s experience of having a genuine, caring person, a true mentor, listen to them with their undivided attention and full-being presence.
Here are 2 easy ways to prep yourself for true, full-being listening:
Do a brain dump 10 minutes before your session begins.
Take out a pen and paper or sit at your computer and write down all the crap that plagues your mind. Don’t judge, just write. All of it. Get it out. What you still need to buy for dinner. Your freaky fantasy you can’t forget. Your to-do list from last month. The hemorrhoid cream you need to buy for your husband. Whatever it is, get it out.
Do light cardiovascular exercise 10 minutes before your session begins.
You could run around the block if you don’t mind starting the session with sweat marks under your armpits. Or you could do something slightly less strenuous like running on the spot for 2 minutes. Or jumping jacks. Or shaking out your limbs. Or dancing to your favorite track on your playlist. The point is to release whatever pent-up energy you’ve carried through the day (even if it’s only 9am) and shake it out so it doesn’t sit with you while you sit…listening.
That’s it! It’s pretty simple actually. It’s getting all that garbage of distractibility out of your mind and out of your body so you can be fully present with whatever your clients presents.
And when you achieve true listening, you’ll know it because your client will thank you in a way they never have before. That’s how you’ll know they felt really & truly heard.
Take a few minutes to let us know what other tricks you have to share for true listening and once you’ve tried it with your clients, tell us how it went. Did they feel it?