Often we “listen to speak” when engaged in conversation. In other words, we begin to quickly construct answers or advice in our heads rather than truly listening.
Setting aside our personal need to connect (via autobiography) or offer immediate judgement (via advice) enables authentic listening to occur.
A real barrier to listening can be actually being present in the moment when someone is speaking.
Attending fully involves physically unplugging from our personal electronic devices and also letting go of our “mental e-mail” in order to fully focus on the person who is speaking to us.
Pausing and Paraphrasing
Both pausing and paraphrasing can be effective tools for acknowledging what the speaker is saying and allowing the person to clarify their thoughts.
An elegant paraphrase is a single sentence that expresses the gist of what you’ve heard and understood as a listener. It can focus on feeling or content or both.
Using Questions to Mediate Thinking
Open ended mediational questions connect the person to their strengths, inner resources, and available supports.
They can assist in exploring options and in the development of practical next steps for the speaker.
Flexibility of Stance and Role
Not every conversation is a coaching conversation.
While these ideas to consider above may be helpful as a framework for thinking, effective mentors demonstrate flexibility of stance and role based on the needs of the person they are working with.