When did you last feel truly heard? That someone listened to what you had to say with no agenda other than to hear you?
It’s easy to assume that we spend a lot of time listening to each other – after all, we have a lot of conversations, and conversations are made up of one person speaking while others listen, and then someone else responding while others listen…aren’t they?
If you’re honest, how much of that “listening” period is spent thinking about what you’re going to say next? If you’re anything like me, you’ll be aware that, in casual conversations, you don’t always let the other person finish before you jump in, and that sometimes you’re so caught up in formulating a response that you realise you haven’t even heard the end of what they were saying.
Our focus keeps shifting from what the other person is saying to what we want to say.
When did you last talk freely about what’s worrying you without having someone inadvertently make you feel small by telling you how easily you can fix things, or how much worse someone else has it? Without someone shifting the focus from your pain to theirs? Without censoring yourself to avoid upsetting, worrying, angering or offending the other person? Without fear of being judged?
In the space created by true listening, your difficult thoughts and feelings can escape, at least temporarily, from the hamster wheel in your head and disperse.
Being heard can make you feel so much lighter, without your listener saying a word - because they don’t say a word. This is what the Samaritans know and that’s how they can help people choose to keep living without giving any advice, without changing a single thing in their lives…apart from allowing them to be heard.
Listening is a vital part of coaching. A coach cannot help you explore your thoughts and feelings if they do not listen fully to what you tell them about those thoughts and feelings. If they focus on their response rather than your words; or if they interrupt you, or if they leap to fill the gap the moment you pause for breath, they are likely to miss something crucial. Maybe it would be something you said when they weren’t paying attention, or maybe it would be something you would have said if they’d given you the time – perhaps something you didn’t even realise you wanted to say.
Coaching will give you the opportunity to be truly heard, not only by your coach, but by yourself.