In 2016, I was working in a rural community in the North central region of Nigeria. There is something odd about the mobile network in my location at that time.
One of the statements I often heard on the phone in the community and when people called me too were, ‘Can you hear me, now?’
It is frustrating, when you want to speak with someone and you can’t hear them. Now, that’s the basic form of communication.
Imagine that the mobile network was great, and I could hear the person on the phone clearly, there is another level of communication that needs to come in, to make the person on the phone know that they are respected, honored and feel understood.
That next level is what we call listening. We can explore at least two types of listening – passive and active.
In Coaching, this session drills into not just listening, but how to actively listen – “Ability to focus completely on what the Coachee is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the Coachee’s desires, and to support Coachee self-expression”.
Here, we are not listening to comment, or give a reply; we want to listen to understand the other person, to make it about them, instead of instantly casting our judgment and answers on others.
Passive listening on the other hand is mechanical, robotic and effortless. You might be hearing what is being said, but you’re not fully absorbing or engaged with what is being said.
One of the things that get us off track is Insecurities. We are unable to listen to others because we are making it all about ourselves – being uncertain and lacking the confidence to engage and understand others, before being understood.
Take a look at what active listening is and not below:
What is Active Listening?
– Listening beyond ears: Initiative
– Looking out for more: Attentive
– Explores possibilities: Fully Focused
– Acknowledge expression: Paraphrasing, mirroring
What is NOT Active Listening?
– Merely hearing: Passive
– Hearing content only: Inattentive
– Closed minded: Distracted, not focused
– Insensitive to feelings: Making judgments
As humans, either as a Coach or Coachee, we all have FILTERS that we use when listening to others.
Delete – Remove what isn’t supporting out arguments
Distort – We mold it to fit our arguments – we do this to almost everything coming our way
Generalize – We go on with the idea of, ‘I know this already, this is what you are doing’ – we base our replies on our general thoughts.
As a Coach, if we listen without judgment to our Coachee, we will have a great time hearing things that we would have missed.
Beyond our usual perception and filters, we will be able to choose and turn on our ability to listen fully, not using our thoughts to instantly analyze or interrupt the other person.
It is important to take notes, paraphrase what someone has said to ensure you are on the same page. Then, use effective body languages, tone and presence that show that you are paying attention.
Challenging a thought is different from bagging into distorting a Coachee’s conversation. If there is some kind of half-truths and insecurities coming up during a conversation, as a Coach you can cut in with a little question:
“I hear that your said this, or reacted this way when you said that, can you tell me more about the scenario?”
If a Coachee talks a lot and you find it hard to capture specific answers that you can use in the future, while it is key to listening to all they have to say, it is fine to ask them questions such as:
“What is 1 thing that you enjoy doing immediately you wake up in the morning?”
There is an active listening format that can help Coaches, pay attention and engage the Coachee – it is called RASA.
-Receive: Listening to the things the person has to share.
-Appreciate: Celebrate, notice and acknowledge the things the Coachee has to say – the emotions and the shifting, themes and patterns.
-Summarize: Try to paraphrase the things that the Coachee has said to be sure that you are in the same flow. In situations, that you paraphrase wrongly, you can simply apologize and allow the Coachee say what they said
-Ask: making sure you give the Coachee to the opportunity to express more thoughts while asking them questions. There could be more the Coachee has to say, help them uncover it.
My takeaway; I love the RASA approach and i have used in my everyday conversation. I have tried rearranging the sequence – asking, receiving, summarizing, then appreciate, yet it still works just good.