Effective listening skills lie at the very core of interpersonal communication. I like to
refer to them as the compost from which everything else springs, and without which
you cannot grow as a coach. In a previous article a few years back (before the Journal
became an electronic resource!), I looked at these in more depth so won’t go into
detail again, though the sources can be found in the references at the end of this
article. They are, however, worth summarising at this point.
• Emotion Labelling: “You sound…”, “I sense…”
• Summarising: “So what you’re telling me is…”
• Paraphrasing: restating what is said using different words.
• Echoing: identify the power word in the sentence, and repeat it.
• Pauses: knowing when to keep quiet encourages others to say more.
• Minimal encouragers: “Uh-huh”, “So…”, “And…”
• Open questions: “How/why/who?” etc. “Tell me more about that.”
• ‘I’ messages: “I’m as frustrated as you are”.
These skills help you to properly understand where your player is coming from. By
encouraging him to talk, he opens up and you can begin to problem-solve from his
perspective, not yours. These skills are perishable, however. Use them or lose them.