Last week I caught up with a couple of my coach training buddies. Even though our classes finished a year ago, we recently agreed to meet up again every few weeks to practise our skills and re-connect with the camaraderie and support that our group gave us.
Since I started working full time as a coach I confess (again with the confessions) that lately I’ve not been as vigilant as I should about ensuring that I have sessions with my own coach to keep me on track. I’ve been so busy coaching and business building that I was beginning to be careless about my own self development and growth.
So for the first time in a while I surrendered to being coached.
My coach, a wonderfully empathetic and intelligent man who lives far away in America and who I have only ever met virtually, listened attentively as I explained what I wanted to be coached upon. Gently he asked questions – powerful questions – re-directed my thoughts, and called me forth to listen to my deepest self. I felt truly, profoundly heard and seen.
Just to have someone listen to me, be with me, as I articulated my thoughts and feelings was immensely cathartic. I felt by the end that I had reached a new understanding of my topic, my perspective had shifted, some lightness had been shone on a place previously obscured. And remarkably we achieved all this together in just ten minutes.
The word healing comes to mind. And something else. As our coaching came to a close, I noticed I felt a little tearful; a little sad as I realised how much I miss this deep connection, how sustaining it is just to talk and be heard. To be witnessed.
So why am I telling you this?
Firstly I really would like everyone to experience the joy and healing of being deeply, truly listened to. A highly skilled coach (for example from Out Loud Coaching) is obviously an excellent person to do this for you but it’s not a requirement.
Anyone can develop the skill of true listening – all you have to do is switch off that internal voice inside your head that makes it all about your stuff and focus on the person who’s doing the talking. Don’t offer advice or solutions, don’t tell them what happened to you, don’t look around the room or change the subject – or, for that matter, wonder what time Match Of The Day is on. (OK – you can do that but simply politely interrupt to press the Sky record button).
Just be over there with them with all your heart. You’ll be surprised what you might learn.
And, if you are the person doing the talking, surrender to the moment. Allow yourself to luxuriate in having the floor. Dare to say what’s in your heart. Say it OUT LOUD. You might be surprised that through the very act of declaring what you’re thinking and feeling to another person, you’ll uncover even deeper insights and truths about who you are – maybe some things you had no idea even existed inside you. And even if nothing new comes to the fore, hopefully you too will experience the cathartic nature of having someone else really attentively listen to you.
Finally this post is a reminder to myself – and perhaps to all you other coaches and professional listeners who are not taking good care of yourselves – don’t forget that you don’t always have to be the listener. You are allowed – no, you are obligated – to occasionally do the talking too.
… and if it is Chelsea v Man U that night, more fool you for not getting your timing sorted. Remember, there’s a time and place for everything.