I recently had the good fortune to attend the Prince’s Trust’s Mentor Training programme, where I was reacquainted with the concept of listening. Now listening is something a coach or mentor does on a daily basis, it’s core to the job. I like to think I’m good at it. My clients tell me I’m good at it. But it’s good to be reminded just how powerful the feeling of being heard is.
And here I was, in a familiar experiential training routine, practicing listening, observing others listening and, in particular, being listened to. I presented my topic, something dear to my heart, something I am tussling to deal with, and after 15 minutes I felt a burden lifted. I had a small insight that gave me some options I hadn’t seen before and, perhaps more importantly, I realised I was being too hard on myself.
All this and not a single piece of advice, no solution and no direction from my ‘mentor’. But I felt listened to. I felt listened to because I knew she had understood me. Her attentive behaviour and her questions helped me unpack my problem without any sense of judgement.
At the end I felt the satisfying fatigue of having worked hard. I had been asked inquiring questions and offered some observations that made me reflect more deeply on my own thoughts, feelings and motivations.
The experience reminded me just how much we can do to help those around us when not feeling the need to prove our own worth by seeking to solve their problems for them.