75 listeningThis is my final post on the Audition Delusion, as we continue the series on Coaching Distinctions that commonly arise in my work as a leadership coach to pastors.

I’ve invited you to notice that, without unusual discipline and practice, you really aren’t listening to the person speaking with you—most of the time. Many of us are listening to the running commentary inside our own heads: the conversation we’re having about the conversation other people think they’re having with us.

We call that commentary “the Competitor”.

As you’d imagine, in coaching, this reality is profoundly influential. First, I get to devote myself to focus fully on my client—and to interrupt the Competitor when I realize it’s taken over. Second, I understand that most of my clients—at least at first—aren’t listening to me at all.

It’s this second factor to which I call your attention today.

75 CoveySteven Covey noted that most people listen not to understand, but to prepare their response. So rather than hearing me out, my coaching clients are formulating their next response.

Understanding this, it’s supremely helpful to regularly inquire what my client is hearing and thinking.

If you’re a coaching client, you’re aware that I do this hundreds of times. “So, Lars, what’d you hear me say?”

As you respond, I’m listening for what commandeered your attention. Because, whatever it was, it’s more important to you, in that moment, than what I said. Discovering what it is and why it’s important can be a powerful gift—to help me understand you, and to help you understand yourself, too.

75 hammerThis inquiry helps uncover to what you are drawn. For many of us, our thinking defaults to familiar topics, judgments, or assumptions. You’ve heard it said: “to a hammer, everything resembles a nail.”

Well, to a victim everything looks like a slight, and to a narcissist, everything sounds like a complement.

Many of us go through life listening for anything that will affirm what we fervently hold true. If you fear you’re a phony who’s likely to be found out, you’ll be drawn, like a bee to honey, to any hint of your insincerity or incongruence.

Are you?

Also, I regularly inquire what my client is thinking. “So, Ada, what are you thinking right now?” 

This helps uncover how you process information. Many people have well-worn cognitive “paths”. If I listen generously and stay curious, the paths emerge.

75 rutThey’re more like “ruts”. 

For one minister, the rut is a consuming concern that he’ll end up forsaken by God and destitute. For another, it’s indecision about whether the church fits his gifts and talents. For a third, it’s his inadequacy in reversing a decline in church attendance. To discover what and how you think, I constantly check in.

Try it. You’ll be amazed what you learn.



Coaching distinctions #75.doc