Deeper Listening: The Secret to Effective Coaching

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Want to know the secret to effective coaching? Let’s cut right to it: it’s deeper listening.

It’s the difference between talking it out with a therapist and making a change in your life. It goes beyond decompressing with your buddies over some beers or taking a long meditative walk in solitude.

Make no mistake, those things are good too. But if you want to maximize your coaching session, there needs to be some deeper listening.

Want to know what that means? Let’s unpack that now.

Circles and Chatter

You have your various circles like anyone else, the people you talk with, laugh with, or even vent to. There are your coworkers who get the job, though you may not always see eye to eye. There are your friends you like to hang out with, but they don’t get everything and have their own lives. You have family who loves you and has known you forever, but they don’t know everything.

You probably have a few select people you can confide in more deeply, but even they get the wall once in a while. There are moments you don’t want to talk about, things that cause you to shield yourself. Sometimes you wish someone would notice, and when they don’t, you wonder why no one’s paying attention.

Has this ever happened to you?

Deeper Listening

We explain life coaching as asking powerful questions, but there’s another piece, an important piece. We also actively listen. It’s a deeper listening, one that goes beyond hearing and retaining words. We listen by hearing words, yes, but also by watching body language, catching tone, and noticing pauses. Sometimes, what’s not said is just as or more important than what’s said.


Coach: Did you reach out to your friend about the job opportunity?
Coachee: (pause) I reached out. We chatted and caught up.
Coach: Did you talk about the job?
Coachee: It’s not going to work out.
Coach: Did you tell her what you said you would?
Coachee: She told me about the job. I don’t think I’m qualified. They’re looking for more experience.
Coach: Is that what she said when you told her you were interested?
Coachee: (pause) I… didn’t tell her I was interested.
Coach: Last time we talked, you said you would tell her that. What changed?
Coachee: She described the job and it sounded overwhelming. I don’t think I’m qualified.
Coach: Were you honest with her about why you reached out?
Coachee: No.
Coach: Let’s revisit what you wanted to do with this…


Coach: How was your weekend away?
Coachee: It was good.
Coach: Did you spend time with your kids?
Coachee: We did. The kids had fun.
Coach: Did you spend time with your wife?
Coachee: We were all together.
Coach: Did you manage any time with your wife without the kids?
Coachee: We were tired by the time they went to bed, so not really.
Coach: What are you leaving out? You usually go into more detail.
Coachee: We just… we went to the hotel, kids did the water slides… and we barely talked. It was easier than fighting.
Coach: Go on…

Effective Coaching

Coaches use deeper listening to call a coachee out when they sense avoidance, stark emotional change, or veering from a previously determined path. Sometimes the path changes, true, but coaches want to clear that up before moving on.

Talking to a coach is more about being honest with yourself. The mirror will never lie and neither will your coach. We want to keep you in line with your goals and values, so we’ll make sure to use deeper listening to catch those cues you’re hesitant to show.

Are you hiding something from yourself? Are you struggling to admit something? Don’t be your own roadblock; let your coach guide you out of self-sabotage and get you on the path to your goals.

Too often people think life coaching is about giving advice, but the truth is it’s about deeper listening. We reflect back what you may be hesitant to admit. We make sure you’re seeing the whole picture and we catch what you try to hide. An effective life coach engages in deeper listening so we hear you, all of you, the whole of you, and keep you on the path to success.