I recently completed the requirements to earn the Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) credential, and this learning experience taught me the value of becoming a better listener.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a Level 1 listener, which means I’m mostly concerned about my own thoughts and agenda. When the other person is speaking, I’m ready for them to finish so I can share what I am thinking.
Let’s see if you can spot the Level 1 listening in this example …
Sandra: Hey, John! How are you doing?
James: I’m doing great, Sandra! How was your vacation to Spain?
Sandra: Wow! It was unbelievable! We knew Barcelona was a going to be a fun place to visit, but the city has so much more to offer than we anticipated!
James: I agree! I remember when we visited Barcelona several years ago. Several of us spent many evenings enjoying the tapas. We also purchased tickets to La Sagrada Familia in advance, which meant we could skip the long lines.
Sandra: Oh! I didn’t know about the online option. We waited in line, but it was still a fun experience.
James: It was also nice that we had a contact from Barcelona who was willing to help us get around. She took us to some great restaurants and the best night spots. We were there a total of 7 days, and I can hardly wait until I have a chance to go back.
Sandra: Great to hear, James! Talk to you soon!
James: For sure! Yeah … I’m glad we talked about Barcelona. It reminded me of some great memories. See you later!
As you can see from this example, James started the vacation conversation, but it soon became a monologue. Instead of asking Sandra about her experiences, he only talked about the time he visited Barcelona.
Get to Level 2
During the CPCC practicum, I had to complete 100 hours of business coaching. Many of the sessions would last an hour, which meant I needed to be a GREAT listener.
Level 2 listening means we focus intently on the other person and what they are saying. We listen not only to the words they are sharing, but also to the tone and speed of the delivery. When people are hesitant to share something on their mind, they will provide short responses and their body language is minimal.
This coaching experience reminded me that people want and need to be heard. In fact, several of my coaching clients shared with me that they enjoyed our sessions because this was the only time anyone would listen intently to what matters most to them.
Here are some of the powerful questions I would use to keep the coaching conversation flowing …
- “Now that you are in this place … what is possible from here?”
- “If you had no barriers in front of you … what would you do now?”
- “What is it to be scared”?
- “What does it feel like when you settle?”
- “What does it feel like when you overcome a big challenge?”
These questions helped me realize that there is great value gained when we take the time to listen intently to the other person. One value of Level 2 listening is exploration.
I think many of us go through life having superficial conversations without taking the time to explore deeper relationships. This means we limit relationship-building. One friend recently told me I was a great conversationalist. Interestingly, I practiced Level 2 listening and spoke only about 10% of the time.
Regardless of the situation, the skill of being a great listener is in high demand.