In the book, “Coaching People” (Harvard Business School Press ©2006) we read about how to “Listen Actively”:
As a coach you need to be tuned into the other person’s feelings and motivations. You do this through active listening. Active listening encourages communication and puts other people at ease. Active listening also clarifies what’s been said to avoid misunderstanding. As an active listener, give the coachee your full attention by following these guidelines:
•Maintain eye contact with the coachee.
•Smile to put the other person at ease.
•Avoid anything that will distract your attention. For example, don’t answer the phone. Only take notes if necessary.
•Be sensitive to body language such as posture and arm position. Is the person tense or relaxed?
•Listen first and evaluate later.
•Do not interrupt the other person except to ask questions to clarify and to encourage him to continue.
•Repeat in your own words what you think the other person has said.
•Wait until after he has finished talking to plan your responses.
Listening really is critical! Don’t forget that active listening takes work. This is a great place to start. Everyone needs someone that will simply listen to them.