Do you think you’re communicating during coaching conversations? The obvious answer would be yes. After all, coaching certainly involves a lot of talking, hopefully the greater proportion of it by the coachee. But does the mere fact that two people are talking to each other (one of whom is a coach) mean we’re actually communicating?
Put that way, the answer might not be so obvious after all. I’ve written elsewhere about the importance of listening and effective questioning in coaching. There’s no doubt that without high-level listening and questioning skills, a coach isn’t going to get very far. But is there more to communication than even that?
Here I’m going to take a closer look at the attitudes and assumptions that drive the use of those skills. What do we mean by communication? And how can we make our communication better?
Are you good at listening? Now, be honest…
Let me be up front. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I believe listening is one of the 5 basic coaching skills coaches need to master if they want to offer the high level of service their coachees deserve. In fact, I believe it’s the MOST important skill. Why? Because everything that happens in coaching depends on it.
The importance of listening
Think about it. Without listening, it’s well-nigh impossible to explore goals and current reality with coachees, because without attentive listening a coach is unable to base an intervention on actual coachee needs as opposed to the coach’s own predetermined ‘programme’. Relevant questions can’t arise in the moment if there hasn’t been an adequately deep, attentive process of listening from which those questions flow. And no-one can contract in coaching without listening, because listening is at the core of the process of discussion and negotiation upon which contracting depends.