Listen, Question, Repeat …


Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character. 

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Anonymous via Bruce Kidson

Well, that’s a lot to be watching, don’t you think?

Thanks to Bruce for using this little poem to illustrate his post about why people are using life coaches.  The answer is relatively simple:

We want something in our life to change and we need help to do so.

Life coaches sometimes experience a lack of respect.  In popular culture, they are sometimes portrayed as vague, bromide-spouting, aging hippies or slick charlatans selling some brand of feel-good, but ineffective solution to every type of problem.

Ever feel better after talking to a close friend about something on your mind?

I would be willing to bet that you feel better not because they told you what to do, but because they listened.  As they listened, they may have asked some questions which required you to explain, analyze, or otherwise consider your situation or issue.  We can figure out most of our problems, but we do not always understand that on our own.

Listening and Questioning are key to the coaching process.

So why do we need coaches?   A friendly ear attached to a friendly head would seem to do the trick.

… Except that how most of us learn to listen and question is not the same as how a well-trained coach listens and questions.  

Most of us listen to hear the words.  An old counseling schtick uses the phrase You know I love you to illustrate how words can change in meaning.  Just repeat the phrase emphasizing a different word each time:

YOU know I love you
You KNOW I love you
You know I love you
You know I LOVE you
You know I love YOU
 

While words are important, coaches listen for the meaning and the emotion behind the words.  

Most of us also frame questions to get information.  We want to know something.  

Coaches frame questions not to get information, but to help the other person think about their perceptions and behaviors, to reflect on process and result, to work through the hard work of change.

“When do you experience that?”

“What have you tried so far?”

“What do you think will happen how?”

Even Dr. Phil asks nice open-ended questions, such as What were you thinking? and How’s that working for you? come to mind.    Nice open-ended questions, even with that twangy accent:)

So that’s why people need life coaches, leadership coaches, business coaches, or any other flavor.  

Coaches know how to listen and question not to comfort, but to help the change process.

… which is also why coaches get paid to do what they do.  It may look like just talking from the outside, but it’s not.

Working on my listening and questioning skills in the Heartland …

John

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3 thoughts on “Listen, Question, Repeat …

    • Hi, Lynn

      Thanks for commenting:). I agree with your observation. Most people can listen and ask questions, the basic ability is widespread. However, what coaches add is in how they listen and what they ask, which hopefully guides the self-discovery process. We have different motives which help frame our words and actions differently.

      John

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