Listening for Feelings
When dealing with individuals, especially couples, it is important to be able to listen for and unearth those hidden feelings. Sometimes coaches will experience clients who feel certain ways but are masking it with a façade, in these situations it is important for the coach to be able to have a “sensitive, internal seismograph to feel the subterranean tremors underneath the external calm” (Parrott & Parrott, 2005, p. 141). Moreover, by having the ability to detect when a client is keeping certain emotions inside, the coach should then be able to utilize specific questioning to unearth these feelings without being insensitive to the client (Parrott & Parrott, 2005). All too often clients omit certain feelings in sessions that could otherwise be very helpful in the process of change. It is the coach’s job to be sensitive to these feelings and help the client freely share them in a comforting and accepting environment.
Effective listening can be extremely difficult for anyone to practice, but for coaches it should become second nature. When engaging in a session with a client, a helpful mechanism to practice effective listening is known as WAIT (Wait Am I Talking), which causes the coach to pause and remind themselves they are not talking and need to wait on the client to finish before developing their own thoughts or questions (Coaching skills to influence partners and spouses!, 2005). By allotting enough time to simply wait on the client and listening to their feelings, frustrations, difficulties, and concerns the coach is opening the door to explore more possibilities in the progress of their client (Coaching skills to influence partners and spouses!, 2005). This mechanism should be something practiced not only in the professional setting, but also at home, and on a daily basis to train the coach to be an effective listener at all times (Coaching skills to influence partners and spouses!, 2005).
Having the ability to reflect a client’s feelings back to them is an important part of listening. For the coach to be able to properly understand the client’s feelings, the coach has to be able to listen to the client and then reflect what the feelings are back to them (Nelson-Jones, 2006). In order to do this, the coach must be able to mirror the client’s emotions as well as what they have verbally expressed (Nelson-Jones, 2006). Moreover, to reflect the client’s emotions and verbal messages, the coach has to incorporate appropriate body and vocal messages (Nelson-Jones, 2006). Reflecting the feelings of a client is about understanding the client’s flow of emotions, experiencing them, and being able to communicate them back properly (Nelson-Jones, 2006). Once the coach understands how to do this, it will enable them to listen to the client’s feelings as well as their verbal messages.
For coaches to listen effectively, they have to be able to identify obstacles causing the information to...