ICF Core Competency: Communicating Effectively – Active Listening

Now moving on to the third category of ICF Core Competencies…Communicating Effectively. The first point under it is Active Listening.

5. Active Listening – Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression.

  1. Attends to the client and the client’s agenda and not to the coach’s agenda for the client.
  2. Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
  3. Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
  4. Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
  5. Encourages, accepts, explores and reinforces the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, etc.
  6. Integrates and builds on client’s ideas and suggestions.
  7. “Bottom-lines” or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
  8. Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

One of the basic skills that I learned many years ago as a young management consultant was active listening to help me gather the facts and information about a client’s problem that I was working on. Active listening during coaching is more demanding in the sense that the coach must listen at deeper levels.

In her book Co-Active Coaching, Laura Whitworth et al identify three levels of listening.

Level I – Internal Listening: Listening to our own thoughts and judgements.

We hear what the client is saying but focus more on our own thoughts and what these might mean to us. Sometimes, we can lose track of what the client is saying because we are more tuned in to our own thoughts and feelings.

Level II – Focused Listening: Focus on what the client is saying.

We hear what the client is saying and how she is expressing herself. We hear the client’s context and use active listening skills such as questioning, restating, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Level III – Global Listening: Focus on more than just the words.

We hear and feel the client’s emotions behind the words, the tone of voice, the body language. We have a heightened sense of awareness and are able to access our intuition. We use the skill of immediacy to help make the client aware of what is happening in the here and now during the coaching session.

Click here to see the 11 ICF Core Coaching Competencies in this blog.

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