In this article, we’ll explore some tips on developing active listening skills by looking at a study by Harvard Business Review.

HBR analysed data describing the behaviour of 3,492 participants in a development program.  They included identifying those who were seen as being the most effective listeners, the top 5%.

Here’s what was found in the study and how we can apply it to active listening skills in our coaching:

  • We can be better active listeners by doing much more than just being quiet while the other person is talking

The study found that the ones seen as the best listeners were the ones who asked questions every now and again, helping to create more insight and discovery.  As coaches, we need to ensure that we are actively participating in the conversation, and it’s a two-way dialogue.

  • We can be better active listeners by helping build the other parties self-esteem to create a positive experience

Also, the study found that the best listeners helped make the conversation a positive experience for the other person, this can’t happen if the listener is only passive.  The good listeners made the other party feel supported and brought about more confidence in them.  Good listening is about creating a safe space, where issues can be talked about openly and without any judgement.

  • We can be better active listeners by creating a cooperative conversation

But the study showed that the interaction with the good listeners flowed easily both ways, with neither person becoming defensive.  Whereas, poor listeners were more competitive, by listening to find mistakes in the other parties reasoning or logic.

Remember, as coaches we’re not interested in debating or winning arguments.  We’re here to support the client and help them to discover new insights.

  • We can be better active listeners by including feedback

Although the study found that making suggestions was a sign of a good listener, we need to remember our role as a coach.  The coach has the role is to ask powerful questions and help the client make their own findings.

Providing feedback is certainly very useful in coaching.  For example, we may point out that the client seems really upbeat about a certain project they are working on, or we could mention that their body language is suggesting something about how they really might feel about their current job, and ask for clarification.  This kind of feedback is really helpful, and could certainly help the client make further discoveries through the session.

More Blog Posts

Recents Posts

What is the GROW Coaching model

What is the GROW Coaching model

The GROW model (or process) is a simple method for goal setting and problem-solving.  Today, it's used as a popular coaching model, but was extensively used in corporate coaching in the late 1980s and 1990s. There are Four Stages of GROW: G Goal The Goal is the...

How to be a Good Listener

How to be a Good Listener

What does it mean to be a 'good' listener?  Are you a good listener?  Are you aware of where your attention is in conversations with friends, family, clients and at work? In this article, we'll explore how to be a good listener. The Zones of Listening There are three...

The Importance of Listening Skills

The Importance of Listening Skills

Together with the ability to ask powerful questions, top coaches have highly developed listening skills. Listening really is a core skill for all coaches, so we've added it near the beginning of our training. We may already think we’re good listeners, but actually...

Wanna Learn more?

Enrol in our FREE Life Coaching Course & Start Coaching