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Want to be a better coach? Yes, you need to ask better questions. You also need to be a better listener.

And let’s be honest: Being a better listener is HARD.

It’s International Coaching Week, which means a lot of content is being shared on how to be a better coach. You can find list after list of great coaching questions.

Asking the question is the first step. If you don’t REALLY listen to the answer, the question is wasted.

The MAGIC is that if you really listen to the answer, the next question becomes obvious.

So HOW do we “listen better”?

We say “Listen to understand. Don’t listen to reply or judge.”

Again, HOW do we “listen to understand”? Sounds great in theory, but what are we supposed to actually DO differently?

We tell people to be better listeners, active listeners, but we don’t tell them HOW to do that.

That’s where my favorite listening framework comes in.

Listen for:

  • Facts
  • Feelings
  • Values

What’s easiest to listen for? Facts.

What’s most insightful for the listener? Feelings and values.

What’s leaves the speaker feeling most heard? Feelings and values.

I. Love. This. Framework.

This framework gives people an approach for HOW to be a better listener.

Want to give it a try?

  1. Get a group of 4 people together. (If you don’t have 4, flex the exercise.)
  2. Assign Person 1 to speak in the first round. Person 2 will listen for content/facts, Person 3 will listen for feelings (spoken and unspoken), and Person 4 for values (what really matters).
  3. Have Person 1 speak for 2 minutes on something they’re passionate, excited, upset, or annoyed by. Persons 2, 3 and 4 listen.
  4. Each listener, one at a time, shares what they heard (based on what they were listening for), starting with “What I heard you say is …”
  5. Rotate roles and do it again.
  6. After everyone has a chance to be in each role, have a conversation the experience for the speaker and listeners.

When I run this exercise with groups, what I hear in the debrief is that listening for feelings and values:

  • Is hard.
  • Keeps you listening.
  • Provides the information you need to provide support.
  • Builds relationships and trust.
  • Works.

And the listener feels far more heard when you’re listening for feelings and values.

To be clear, this is hard. It takes practice. And like anything that takes practice, when you get better at it, it’s incredibly rewarding.

My challenge on International Coaching Week is to give yourself a break from worrying about asking the killer question that will cause the heavens to open and light to shine down on your coachee. Maybe, this week, focus on being a better listener. I promise the next question will come.

Have you heard of (pun intended) this listening framework before? If yes, how has it worked for you? If no, what do you think? Reach out.

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