Listening is an essential attribute in a client coach relationship. Each of us carries with us a story, a unique story about the past, present and the future. Our story is filled with the experiences and events that have shaped our lives.
For example when we are listening we hear the words (content) and then relate them to our contextual framework (our experience). As we overlay what we hear with our experience (what is in our memory) we “pop out” of the conversation for a moment and depending on the vividness of the story we may “pop out” of the conversation for a few seconds. When that happens we have lost connection with the story that is being presented (i.e. we are no longer present).
Intentional listening takes work and like physical exercise needs to be done often in order to improve. Listen with intent for thirty seconds each day building towards one minute of focused listening (which means silencing the internal critic in the head). Process the story and allow the story being told to be the only thing that is being processed. When there are breaks in concentration quickly return to the full focus of listening.
If the speaker mentions “mountains” our mind will imagine a mountain and in many cases our mind will probe the shape, the orientation, height, cliffs, valleys and other features of that mountain and that takes us away from the story. Those “pops” out of the listening experience need to be very brief in order to be fully present in the listening process.
It is not that it is wrong to connect our context with the content of the story because that is how we are able to share experiences even though there are vast differences in the context of the story. We just need to be careful not to escape into our story when we are listening to the story of another person.
Do you “pop out” of the story or are you disciplined in your listening abilities?
How long can you focus on the story of another person?
What can you do to improve your focus?
Now what if your brain becomes full, what do you do? [This is where we acknowledge the story, through paraphrasing, echoing, questioning …]