Being the Best Coach or Mentor You Can Be 6: My 10 Top Tips for Hearing


My 10 Top Tips for ‘Hearing’ for Coaches and Mentors builds on and broadens our exploration of communication in coaching and mentoring

Over the last few blogs we have been exploring the importance of you having sensory acuity to ensure that you capture all the important messages being transmitted by your client. Clearly, however, any exploration of effective communication has to take into account a number of other themes we have covered in previous blogs. 10 Top Tips for ‘hearing’ for coaches and mentors brings these together.

All communication between 2 people is circular

When you pay attention to your client you are absorbing and filtering what they are transmitting. As you do this your client will be doing the same. It is this communication loop that defines the quality of your coaching and mentoring relationship and hence, what you can and can’t achieve.

There are a number of questions it is important to ask yourself. Perhaps the most important being . . .

  • How, as a coach or mentor, can you ensure that the communication loop between you and your client is as open as possible?
  • How can you maximise your ability to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ what your client is ‘saying’?
  • How can you maximise communicating the messages you want your client to ‘hear’ and ‘see’?
  • How can you minimise communicating any messages that are about your ‘stuff’?
  • How can you filter out the peripheral and ‘know’ what the ‘real’ message is?

My following 10 Top Tips for ‘Hearing’ for Coaches and Mentors will help you to answer some of these questions

  1. Relax and smile – your responsibility as a coach or mentor is to set the scene and establish an ethos which secures an effective coaching and mentoring relationship
  2. Use peripheral vision to ‘see’ the whole picture – make use of all your senses consciously and unconsciously to capture as much of the non verbal communication as you can
  3. Focus on what your client is ‘saying’ as well as on what they are speaking – use what you are capturing non verbally to check out what is being said verbally to help you refine down to the ‘real’ issue
  4. See’ their physiology and ‘hear’ their voice – remember that around 55% of what is communicated is communicated through their physiology and around 38% through how they use their voice
  5. Don’t forget that there is meaning in the silence – they may still be ‘pondering’, ‘listening’ to their own self talk, ‘reflecting’ on what they want to say
  6. Give enough time and space for the other person to ‘talk’ – to say what they want to say verbally and non verbally
  7. Visualise, draw a picture in your mind’s eye, of what the other person is saying. But remember it is also your picture – and you need to be able to recognise this and screen out anything that could interfere in their learning
  8. Connect’ by repeating some of their own words and phrases – ‘showing’ you are listening and providing them with feedback which they can use for further learning
  9. Turn down your own self talk – focus on your client not yourself, be aware of and quieten your own ‘stuff’
  10. Take notice of what the other person repeats and emphasises – as this will provide clues about where the ‘real’ issue lies

I am sure that you can add to this from your own experience as it is definitely not a comprehensive list. What it does do, if visited regularly, is provide you with a useful reminder about where the main focus of attention should be when communicating.


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