Managers Transition into Coaches by Listening

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Today, most managers are improving their coaching skills as they try to help their hybrid or virtual workers to acquire new habits and skills and increase performance. Micro-management isn’t a possibility, and even if it was, it’s rarely the best way to increase long-term performance. 

To be effective, it’s helpful to know what’s the best type of listening to use in different situations. Kellerman and Seligman (in Tomorrowmind) distinguish between five types of listening:

  • Discriminative: Identify and isolate the type and source of the sound we hear.  (For instance, people tend to be louder and speak faster about things they’re passionate about; so we speak at two levels – the data or content level as well as the emotional level)
  • Comprehensive: Focus on understanding the full story content (e.g., in a news report.)
  • Critical: Judge the value of information being shared
  • Empathetic: Try to experience what the speaker is thinking and/or feeling (e.g., customer service centers hire for it; greater teachers, bosses and mentors do it.)
  • Appreciative: Listen with the goal of enjoying (e.g., the story) and pleasure the experience)

As you practice coaching others, think about which types of listening are most appropriate to the goal of helping the person. To build a relationship, empathetic is a key component. Critical listening is important when making presentations to encourage a “sale” of a product/service or idea. Finally, silence is a form of communication for a speaker, and listening to what might be happening during that silence is important.

How good a listener are you? How can you improve? Share your questions with us so we can help you be a better communicator/presenter.