As professionally credentialed coaches by the International Coaching Federation, we are supposedly masters in the art of active listening, offering space for our clients to vent, ponder, reflect, learn and commit to taking necessary action or steps for their forward movement towards the desired goals.
Active listening in the true sense of the coaching competency, as defined by the ICF core competencies, means that the coach focuses on what the client is saying (and is not saying) to fully understand what is being communicated, in the context of the clients’ systems and to fully support clients’ self-expression.
In simple words, as coaches, we are not just hearing what our clients are saying but also fully grasping the underlying message and their emotions. To listen actively, I, for one, empty myself before each session. I show up fully present, tune in and sense what the clients are going through as they are recounting their stories.
By the way, coaching clients worldwide, have time and again reiterated in their testimonials the benefits received due to the strong intuitive presence and deep-listening skills experienced in their coaching sessions.
Yet, I have a confession to make. I found myself wanting in these areas of being present and listening deeply in my personal life. I was in a telephonic conversation with an elderly friend who has a tendency to be quite anxious and is also on medications for a couple of chronic lifestyle diseases.
I have often been in an advisory mode reminding her of the various relaxation practices, including simple ones like deep breathing and chanting which she enjoys and benefits from. She started recounting how a person very dear to her is going through a challenge at work. She sounded anxious, and naturally so. However, I kind of immediately jumped to put on my advisory hat and suggested that she relax and that all would be well.
Later, in my reflections, I wondered if that was all that was required.
Could I have dealt with the friend’s dilemma differently?
Could I have lent her the space she may have been looking for?
Could I have been there for her, just as a silent witness?
What made me treat this conversation as different and why could I not be in my coaching mindset with a friend too, if that can be of help?
I would have definitely dealt with it with a lot more empathetically and non-judgmentally had it been a coaching conversation with my clients.
Is my coaching mindset limited to coaching conversations only, despite working on my “being” a coach rather than “doing” coaching?
For me, the needle has moved quite a bit in the professional space in the last six years, since I first learnt the Art and Science of Coaching back in 2015. I suppose it is still work in progress, in terms of application in personal areas of my life.
Personal mastery is a self-development journey. It is about taking one step at a time. The destination is far away. Many miles are to be covered. Yet, I am content in reaching some milestones. I am indeed grateful for the awareness that’s started to trickle in, the blind spots that are being uncovered. I am even more grateful for the ego, which has started to make way for light to shine.
Wonder what are some of the areas of your life where you are struggling to let the light shine?
What are you planning to stop doing for your self-development journey?
What are you willing to start for your own personal growth?
Take the first step. Experience coaching for yourself!
If you need support on your organisation’s and/or leader’s coaching journey, do contact us at ICF and our team of volunteers in India will be happy to help.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering the role of coaching as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 39,000-plus members located in more than 145 countries and territories work toward the common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and maintaining the highest ethical standards.
Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching.
In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi NCR, ICF Mumbai, ICF Pune and ICF Hyderabad.
As an ICF Professional Certified Coach by the ICF (PCC), author Nidhi Aggarwal, is now a Life & Leadership Coach, who capitalises on her top five strengths —belief, connectedness, developer, empathy and responsibility in partnering with her clients. Her true calling for spreading happiness, harmony and prosperity pulled her out from a successful 25-year stint in leadership roles in finance to coaching. Using her calming methodology and positive structured support, she works through the natural strengths of her clients and empowers them through higher levels of awareness, bringing alignment in their natural way of being. She creates possibilities where none seemed to exist, enabling clients to lead a life they want.
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Thank you Nidhi for an insightful and inspiring article. As I further consider the new competency of Embodies a Coaching Mindset I also seek to “empty my mind” and be fully present when listening. I love your imagery there.
And thank you for the gift of your two closing questions on what I am planning to start/stop doing for my personal development. Excellent learning questions and I will consider them today.
Anne Kelly, PCC, CFL, 2005
So glad its given you something to ponder. Good luck Anne
Wonderful article on self awareness to check ego n making way to light.
It’s heartening to find one can switch from corporate world to spirituality and excel in both. Service to mankind in present world by such an amazing means is really living a “Meaningful life”
Wonderful indeed to read your comments. Means a lot to me.
Thank you for sharing. The way you have laid it out is a great reflection on how you evolved from an amazing business executive to a great coach. We need more of you. Thank you.
Thank you Vipon for your kind words.
Very well written article, Nidhi! Lucid to read and you nudge and encourage the reader to self reflect on the distance covered and what more needs to be done. As coaches, it’s a bit ironical that we tend to wear our advisory hat in a hurry in personal relationships. Admire your vulnerability in all sense of honesty and I could relate to it the maximum. Kudos and compliments!!
Thank you and glad you could relate to it Rajneesh