Take the pressure off – listen

I don’t know about you but sometimes when I’m coaching I don’t know what to say or ask next.

Does that sound familiar?

As Stephen Covey puts it:

‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.’

Well, let me offer two pieces of advice:

If in doubt, say nowt – zip it and hold the silence

If you must say owt, summarise – ‘this is what I’ve heard’

Summarising has many advantages. It allows both of you to clarify your understanding. It provides an opportunity for your coachee to reflect on what they have said. It can act as a prompt for the individual to carry on. It takes the pressure off you to think of the next question. Most of all, it shows you’ve listened.

It sounds easy and it is. All you have to do is listen. That means turning off that ‘I know what I want to say next’ and focus on the individual. A technique I use is to retain the individual’s key words – after all we don’t need to regurgitate what they’ve said word-for-word.

When we do this we stay with their agenda not ours and take the pressure off ourselves.