The change of behavior that’s going to serve you most powerfully is simply this: a little less advice, a little more curiosity.
→ Michael Bungay Stanier, The Coaching Habit
If you’ve ever walked away from a conversation with someone feeling unusually elevated, it’s likely because that person was skilled in active listening. It’s likely because they made you feel heard, significant, & worthy.
You felt elevated because they made the conversation about you, not them — your ideas & your perspective, not their opinions & advice.
As a coach, empathetic listening is a skill worth developing, one just as important as seeing & correcting or group management.
It’s not easy. Offering advice feeds our ego & gives us status. It justifies our position as the coach charging good money to expound on our experience & expertise.
But it creates blind spots, too.
As coaches, we shouldn’t act like GPS, assuming the only goal of our students is to get where they’re going as fast as possible.
Some people want to take the scenic route. Some people just desperately want to avoid traffic, or tolls, or side streets. Some people are walking, not driving, opening them up to a whole new set of navigational options.
The context matters when it comes to how best to help our students. Leading with curiosity instead of ego is how we learn not only where they’re hoping to go, but the optimal way we might help get them there.