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Listen Actively to be the best help

We know: all you want to do is help people. But you are not helping when you jump into sharing your own experience or giving suggestions. You can be the best help when you listen to the other person fully, or as we say in coaching – when you listen actively *.

Maybe you are saying, you know how to listen, and still, you might be listening in one of these habitual ways we’ve come to practice. You might be listening at the first level, or in other words, you might be listening internally.

First Level Listening / Internal Listening

First-level listening is not helpful to the other person because we are listening for ourselves, not for the other. Jumping into suggestions and sharing personal experiences all come from this level of listening. Being drifted apart is also a result of this level of listening because we are lost in our own thoughts.

Second Level Listening / Focused Listening

In the second level of listening, we are focused on the person we are with. Now, this listening is helpful. Because the person we are with feels listened to and can feel safe to open up which allows freer thinking for the other person where they can find their own answers. And there is even a better way of listening.

Third Level Listening / Environmental Listening

The third level of listening is a place of pure presence for the other person – that is the biggest help.

You, now have learned the three levels of listening.

The listening that is the best help is the second and third levels of listening and that is how a coach listens.

It is totally normal to listen at the first level. We have learned it that way. It takes practice to unlearn that habitual way and step into the second and third levels of listening. When we listen at these higher levels, questions emerge about what is there and what is possible. We support the person we are with to connect to their own truth and their potential. That is how coaching supports.

If you’d like to explore training as a coach, check out our coach training programmes.

*active listening is one of the core coaching competencies by the International Coaching Federation. We have created detailed descriptions of each competency in video format, which you can watch here.