thumbnailcatfh0e2   The Power of Being Heard…

While flying to Kansas City to facilitate a week of coach training, I was squeezed into my seat on a packed plane. The flight attendant said we would all have an “elbow buddy,” meaning that every seat would be taken. And after all the passengers had boarded, I found myself sitting next to a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army.

At first, we exchanged brief greetings and quietly settled in for the flight.  But once we were in the air, I pulled out my legal pad and started working on this blog post. When my “elbow buddy” noticed the title of my article, he asked me about it, and I explained that I was a coach and that I am reminded almost daily how important it is to be a good listener.

He asked if I would mind if he asked some questions about coaching, and when I gave him the go ahead, he asked one after another. Finally, he told me what his mission was–to train officers to encourage input from their subordinates.  Intrigued I kept listening and asked a few questions of my own.

A brief hour later as we began our descent into Kansas City, the excited officer had convinced himself of the empowering nature of being heard and had develop a new game plan for his training mission. In the whole hour, I had asked only three questions and listened for the remainder of the time reminding me once again how empowering it is to be heard—really, truly heard.

As coaches, we practice listening all the time. It is after all an absolutely essential skill to the process of coaching.  But how does being heard empower the person being coached?  Great question! Here are some observations gleaned from my conversation with the officer:

Being heard builds trust. As the person being coached realizes they are being fully heard, trust builds, and the conversation deepens. The officer said, “Wow, you are really interested in what I am saying, aren’t you?!”  And he opened up to tell me about his work.

Being heard promotes discovery. As trust builds and the conversation deepens, there is a greater opportunity for discovery. Dreams are revealed, insight is sharpened, issues and solutions come into the full light of disclosure, and “aha moments” are made. 

Being heard leads to movement. As revelations are made, next steps develop to move the person being coached from where they are to where they want to be.  The clarification of their goal enhances their desire and ability to reach it.

Being heard produces accountability. There is something that happens when someone hears their own words and realizes someone else has heard them speak those same words. It produces a sense of accountability. Articulating dreams somehow makes them “real” and requires an active response.

My “elbow buddy,” the Lieutenant Colonel, would agree.  There IS power in being heard—even on a crowded airplane over Kansas City.  What do you think?  Can you hear me now?