"There is a difference between truly listening and waiting for your turn to talk" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The opportunity to really be heard - to have someone tune into you - is an increasingly rare experienced in today's technologically connected world. At its most basic level, coaching is deep listening to what a client says and to who they are at their core. A coaches agenda is checked at the door.

The experience of listening most prevalent today is far different. It is dominated by hearing only a person's words and has the primary purpose of  planning our response. We cling to details and reply with our reaction to what they said and how it relates to us personally. In doing so, we miss the importance of what's important to them.  

When listening to someone and you notice yourself with the following thoughts, you are not listening.

I have had that same experience
I cannot relate at all to that experience
I can offer a suggestion or solution
I don't know how to solve this problem
I don't believe what this person is saying

While this type of listening has a purpose, it is the method we should just using least frequently.

One of the most well known executive coaches, Marshall Goldsmith, adjusts his client's listening habits by playing a game. Every time one of his clients begins a sentence with the following words, they pay Marshall $20 which he, in turn, donates to a charity of their choice. 

  1. No

  2. But

  3. However

Pay attention to the frequency at which you are using this language in response to what you just heard.

shift your response by asking an open ended question.