Listening as a Life Coach

Jul 9, 2014


Often as life coaches we can become incredibly concerned with a lot of things out of our control.  Things such as…

“I hope she likes me.”

“Does he think I’m doing it right?”

“Are they going to achieve their goals?”

“What if they ask for a refund?”

Our inner chatter and ego can start to have it’s own dance party inside our head, sending us down worrisome pathways that can not only shake our confidence and abilities as a coach, but drive a connection wedge between us and our clients.  We can easily become fixated on things in the coaching relationship that we think are going to make things better and more meaningful for our clients, when in fact it detracts from them.  And sometimes I also think we become fixated on the latest trend or way of working, because we think that maybe ‘that’s the way’ things will really start to help make ‘it’ happen for our clients.

Amongst all of this can be a simple forgetting or losing of one of the great fundamentals of not just great life coaching, but great human exchange.


And I’m not just talking about your average garden variety listening that we do by default, while our real intent is focused elsewhere.  Driving and trying to co-ordinate diaries for next weekends already overwhelming plans.  Four pots on the go in the kitchen while our partner is trying to tell us their soul is being sucked out at work.  Checking Facebook on our iPad, with the television humming, and knowing our flatmate is talking to us but not really what about.

The reason why life coach listening skills are so important goes beyond the obvious.

Of course we must not only listen to our clients, but we need to truly hear them.  Hear their intent, their fears, their longing, their joy and their underlying needs.  We cannot be expected to deeply serve them if we don’t listen and hear.

However listening as a life coach is so powerfully important for more than this.  Have you ever considered how the quality of your listening impacts the quality of the questions you ask?  How the quality of your listening also impacts the clients ability for them to hear themselves at a deeper level?  That level where their intuition, spirit, heart and soul speaks?

If you are entangled with fearful or ego based thoughts such as wondering and worrying if your clients like you or if you’re doing your coaching ‘right’ I have one very big tip to share with you today that I hope can quieten that inner chatter and make you feel more grounded in your power and knowledge as a life coach and the extraordinary power you are helping create in someone’s life.

Do not worry about things you cannot control such as whether your client likes you, or does their actions, or will or will not follow through on what they have decided they will do.

Instead, when next in a session, set yourself the intention to truly and deeply and presently and with full focus, listen to your client and every single word they say.  Listen with curiosity and not from default.  Leave assumptions aside and everything you know of them in the past.  Be with them just in that moment and listen to them like you’ve never listened before.

And this is what is likely to happen…

You will see and hear amazing things about your client that you may never have known and they don’t know themselves

You will hear nuance and subtlety upon nuance and subtlety that will allow you to truly know, maybe for the very first time, what is holding your client back or preventing them from being their true and real self

You will release any fears you have about not knowing what to say

You will give yourself the power to ask the most extraordinary questions

The pace of your coaching session will be slower, deeper and richer, and you will both become less focused on what there is ‘to do’ and more focused on how your client can just ‘be’ their best and most beautiful self

Being able to tap into the heart of your life coaching clients and support them to achieve amazing things is not found wrapped up in the latest technique, fancy worksheet or trick question.  It’s firstly and foremostly found in a space where spacious, deep and present listening occurs.

Try it.  You’ll never go back to skim, speed or surface listening again.  And your abilities as a life coach will deepen and richly improve.


  1. Rachelle

    I have to say that learning this one thing from Beautiful You has absolutely catapulted my confidence as a coach and definitely deepened the experience for each of my clients – they cant quite put their finger on what makes them feel so good but I KNOW its because you taught me to listen with my heart xxoo

    • Julie

      Oh Rachelle – that is so amazing for me to hear. What a coach you are.

  2. Clare Greig

    Wow this is such a GOOD point Julie. It’s funny because this is something you learn when you are looking after clients (back in my advertising days). The listening skill.
    Like really listening.
    Repeating what they have said back to them works really well too, that way you confirm that you have truely heard it right and then saying it back to them gives them more clarity. Ooh love it.

    • Julie

      Yes Clare! It’s such an overlooked skill as a coach and even every day in our communication. And the act of active listening as you describe is so important as well. It can make such a difference to how much our clients truly feel heard.

  3. Libby Thompson

    Great post Julie. I had an experience just recently with a client where to begin with I felt we were going over old ground and that our last few sessions had all kind of started off the same way. And I thought ‘wow this lady is really stuck and I felt frustrated and had a sense of disconnection with her. It lasted for about 10 minutes (too long!) but luckily I caught it. To get myself out of it I just really focused hard on what she was saying and it was then that the break through kind of came. Not in a big way. But there was a little ‘aha’ moment for her and at the end of the session she said to me “you know what? you are a great listener”. I have never really had a client say that to me before and whilst I was quietly chuffed….I also felt a little bad for feeling a little frustrated with her at the outset of the session. Another little voice that I had to correct. Because we all get frustrated with others and that’s ok. Getting frustrated is not an issue. Being aware of it and how you deal with it is what is important. I guess I got a strong reminder of the importance of listening and it changed the way I worked with my clients for the rest of the day. So now – I am grateful for that little moment of frustration!

    • Julie

      What a fantastic outcome for you as a coach and your client too Libby. It’s so often the little moments of this type that make our work as coaches so so meaningful. Well done to you!

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