Una's Blog


3 You know what you need? You need a good listening to!

graphic-2by Una Hearne.

One of the key skills in coaching is listening. Listening in a way that we don’t often encounter in our lives. For me, the best description is by Nancy Kline in her book Time to Think. In the introduction she describes how her mother listened to them as children:

“She simply gave us attention. But the quality of that attention was catalytic.”

Nancy then goes on to describe how later studies of thinking in students showed that:

“The important factor in whether or not they could think for themselves, afresh, at a given moment seemed to be how they were being treated by the people with them.”

She and her colleagues reasoned that since:

“Everything we do depends on the thinking we do first; and our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other; perhaps the most important thing we could do with our life and with our leadership was to listen to people so expertly, to give them attention so respectfully they would begin to think for themselves, clearly and afresh.”

There is something about listening fully to another person, without judgement, that really does unlock their best quality thinking. It is about tuning into the other person until you really understand, until you really ‘get’ what they are saying. And letting them see that you are interested, riveted even, by them and what they are telling you.

You can’t fake this – if you are not interested, they will know.

When you listen well to someone it helps them to get clarity, focus on what really matters to them and do their best thinking. It allows their wisdom to surface.

A good listener creates the conditions in which another person can flourish.

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