Using Active Listening in Coaching

As a coach, we all know the importance of active listening.  How do we really stay present and listen to coachees, rather than thinking about what we are going to ask next?  We feel it is our responsibility to lead a meaningful coaching conversation with powerful questions.  Being a good listener is equally important for a successful coaching.  Here are some tips of active listening skills that we can practice in coaching:

Listen with presence

Listening is not barely hearing through the ears.  To be 100% presence, we can listen with our whole body, heart, and mind.  Set a comfortable tone so that it will give the coachee an opportunity to think and share.  Allow pause and silent instead of immediate responding.  Don’t interrupt.  Let them finish their words. Pay attention to their body language and frame of mind.

Withhold judgment

Being open-minded is the key success to active listening. Try to withhold any judgment, be open to new points of view and possibilities.  We may have strong views.  As a professional coach, we choose to withhold judgment, avoid criticisms, and prevent argument while we are listening to our coachees.

Reflect and clarify

Don’t assume we always have the same understand as our coachee.  To enhance we are on the same page, try to rephrase and mirror the sharing and emotions from coachees regularly by paraphrasing the key messages.  This is a key active listening skill called reflection.


Don’t be hesitate to ask clarifying questions when things are ambiguous or unclear.  As a professional coach with active listening skills, we always clarify when there is doubt or confusion about what the coachee has shared.


“What do you think about the situation?”

“Tell me about what exactly happened?”

“Will you further explain/describe the issue?”


Using open-ended and probing questions are important for active listening.  These questions help your coachee in deeper reflection, which may invite thoughtful response from coachees and maintain a spirit of collaboration in the conversation.


Summarizing helps both the coach and the coachee on track in the coaching session.  With summarizing, it also demonstrates that you have actively listen during the coaching conversation.  By summarizing, your coachees can review what they have said, which often provoke new and deeper thinking.   


You can start with “Let me summarize to check my understanding…”.  Restating all key information helps both the coach and the coachee to be clear on the commitments and follow-up actions.

With the above four essential active listening skills, you will be demonstrating yourself as a respectful, open-minded coach.  By using active listening skills, you help your coachee to probe issue at a much deeper level.  As a result, your coachees can reveal beliefs, internal frames of reference, values and limiting assumptions which are the keys to unlocking their potential.


© Copyrights by IICTF. All Rights Reserved.