In all religions and in every sect Listening is something which has been highlighted very prominently. Guru Nanak has mentioned to his disciples about the grace of listening. According to Nanak if you listen right than your communion with God is not far away. But unfortunately we have thought that we have been listening for lives after lives but nothing happened to us. Actually we never listened. Nanak is referring to a very different quality of listening.
Buddha has also highlighted the same point to his disciples. Buddha said “To discipline ourselves in learning is called hearing…” And Buddhists call the first step of learning, of knowing, hearing; right-hearing – samyak shravan.
Jainism also emphasised on right listening. Right listening is not about the words alone or to listen to the written words, it is beyond the words, listening to the silence between the words, the unspoken. If somebody has attained the truth, then listen to him. Nothing else is needed. Listen to his vibes, listen to his being, listen to the murmur of his inner sound. Just listen. If you can find a person who has come home, then just listen to his calmness, his tranquillity, his bliss. By “right-listening” is meant “to be rightly receptive.”
Coaching is all about rightly receptive. The client is trying to share something hugely important about himself, He has his turmoils, good and bad experiences and very varied descriptions of those experiences. He is looking for solution which could be action, acceptance or awareness to his issues and he is talking to the coach from his emotional stand point which is so unique to him or her. A good coach becomes rightly receptive to him, which means he is not judging the client, but he is full of empathy while listening his silence too.
Look at the conversation of Krishna and Arjuna in Mahabharata which is known to be world’s guide to all seekers, Krishna spoke Gita because he was sure about Arjuna’s listening capabilities. Arjuna just allows the divine words of Krishna to fall on his ears. Arjuna became the most favourite disciple of Krishna. The word discipline has its root in disciplehood. It means with full awareness you accept something on your own. It is your heart’s desire.
In coaching we just listen from our heart without bringing our own mind, interpretations and judgements. The quality of listening determines the quality of our questions to get the client reach to his actions, awareness, and acceptance of his issues for which he is seeking solutions.
For a good coach deep listening abilities are must. A client when he is not saying something, then too he is saying, go on listening, and in his non saying you will find tremendous expression. And when he is saying something, go on listening deeply because when he is saying something, he is at the same time transferring his silence to you. When he is speaking, he is silent also, and when he is silent, he is speaking also. A tremendous quality of listening is needed. You can listen to nature, to the winds passing through the pines, listen to the waterfall, go and listen to the wild ocean. Go and listen to the birds; anything will do. This is something very important to remember: if right-listening is there, then even listening to a waterfall will do. And if right-listening is not there, then even listening to Jesus or Buddha won’t do.
In coaching the solutions come when you are in the mood of right-listening. It has nothing to do with the object of listening; it has everything to do with the quality of listening. But we have forgotten how to listen. Even when we are silent, we are not listening. Even when we pretend to show that yes, we are listening, we are not listening; we are doing a thousand and one things in the mind. Many thoughts are crowding in. Politely we show that yes, we are listening, politely sometimes we nod also; we are listening, but deep inside is the madhouse. How can you listen? To listen you will have to drop your thinking. With thoughts, listening is not possible. If you as a coach is speaking inside and a client is speaking there, how can you listen to him? Because you are closer to yourself than client, your thoughts will be closer to you, they will make a ring around you, and they will not allow the client’s voice to enter you. You will allow only those thoughts which are in tune with you, they will choose and select. They will not allow anything that is strange, unfamiliar, unknown. Then it is not worth listening because you are simply listening to your own thoughts. And it is dangerous because now you will think that you have listened to me. Right-listening means to be in a totally receptive, silent mood.
In Zen the disciple sits for many months, sometimes years, before he becomes capable of listening. Whenever anybody would come to Buddha, he would say, “For one year or two years simply sit here. Nothing else has to be done. Simply learn how to sit.” People would say, “We know already how to sit.” And Buddha would say, “I have never come across a person who naturally knows how to sit because when I say sit, I mean sit – no turmoil, no movement of thought, totally silent, utterly silent, no movement in the body, no movement in the mind. A pool of energy with no ripples.” “To discipline ourselves in learning is called hearing…” So the whole Buddhist discipline, Zen discipline, starts by right-listening

2 thoughts on “Right Listening delivers great Coaching

  1. Debdutta says:

    Truly brilliant article! Very few articles capture the aspect of right listening, in such profound depth, spiritual references from Masters, simple language and such genuine fluidity! This article contains everything that one needs to understand about the ‘art if listening’.

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