The Importance of Listening Skills: a personal experience

The importance of listening skills

By Martin Cole

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As a coach, I know the importance of listening skills and the value of deep and active listening in particular.

I know the importance of suspending judgment and I know how critical it is to remove ones own’s biases, interests and concerns from coaching conversations.

Yet despite all that knowledge, I know there are times when I fail on some or even all of these fronts.

And this is especially the case when I am manager as well as coach, because the manager as coach role carries inherent limitations as to the extent of objectivity that can be obtained.

Nevertheless, I was struck today by how powerful true listening can be – when I was the one that needed to be listened to.

I asked to see one of my bosses to discuss a tricky situation that cut across work and personal matters and I was treated to a masterclass in empathetic, engaged listening.

No promises were made. No solutions offered. But, intelligent questions were asked and my answers were listened to and heard.

Was the problem solved?


Did I feel better able to manage it?

Yes I did.

About the Author

I'm Martin Cole. I am a UK qualified lawyer, a leader within the financial services regulatory and compliance sector and an organisational and executive coach. I have an Master of Science (M.Sc). in coaching psychology and am certified as a coach by the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership. I also have a Bachelor of Laws (LLB (Hons.)) and was admitted as a barrister by the Inner Temple (now non-practising). I have lived and worked in London and Sydney and now live near Edinburgh in Scotland with my wife and two daughters. I support Crystal Palace FC, have wide ranging musical tastes (especially Jazz, Blues and Soul) and oppose mediocrity, selfishness and organisations that fail to value their people.

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