Sanam Yaqub, DESS

Did you hear that?

It was the sound of silence.

Sir Conan Doyle had it right when his character Sherlock Holmes criticized Watson for only ‘looking’ and not ‘observing’. We all ascend the same stairs everyday at home, but do we observe how many steps there are?

Similarly, it can be easy to ‘listen’ to what your client is saying, but do you always ‘hear’ what they say?

Listening to what the client is saying and hearing what they actually mean is a skill that all coaches should develop.  A coach must not only focus on the clients spoken response but also pay attention to non-verbal clues, which can be imperative in guiding further questioning.

Techniques such as pausing after questioning, are essential in allowing the client time to think about their response – silence is where the thinking and change is taking place.

In addition, listening for key information and phrases can give clues to the clients thinking. Furthermore, paraphrasing, reflecting and summarizing what the client has said can help to develop the thinking of the client and ensuring that the coach has heard the clients response correctly.

Once effective listening has been mastered, open-ended questions can be powerful for extraction of information.

Listening is more than just sitting back and taking in the words of the client.

It is about picking up the clues in the unsaid words, facial expression and body language. So next time you are listening to your client, ‘observe’ and ‘hear’ the silence – it should speak volumes.

Sanam was CPD Leader at Dubai English Speaking School and now is the Head of Cultural Development.  Having completed the ILM Level 3 Award in Coaching with flying colours, she is now working on the ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Mentoring.

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