Making a Difference - Part 4: Coaching and Active Listening

Anyone who has ever participated in sports will remember their coaches and the influence they had on their life as a young person. “It is through the coach-athlete relationships that enable a coach's influence and therefore determines how much influence a coach has” (Science Daily - Feb. 3, 2011)


Everyone can be a Coach

This same influence found in athlete-coach relationships can exist through teacher-student relationships. Every staff member at your school can become an effective coach even if they are not physically coaching a sport.


Jeff Myers in Cultivate points to three keys to effective life-on-life coaching that make a difference in the life of a young person. These skills include active listening, asking good questions, and helping others set and achieve worthy goals.


Active Listening

Research indicates that we remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear; therefore, educational researchers encourage teachers to go beyond lecturing. Likewise, when information is presented to us, chances are that we are not capturing the entire message – only 25-50 percent. James says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath” (James 1:19).


By becoming an active listener, we can improve our ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What's more, we can avoid conflict and misunderstandings. Beyond this, it is important that the person on the receiving end feels that they are being heard as they share their concerns.


The way to become a better listener is to practice “active listening.” “This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.” (James Manktelow, Active Listening)


Do not allow yourself “to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter-arguments that you'll make when the other person stops speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored and lose focus on what the other person is saying. These contribute to a lack of listening and understanding.”


The Center for Coaching Excellence presents five things to look for that would allow a person to create a breakthrough in the conversation – they label this RADAR (See Cultivate).


R–Red Flags

As you are listening to what is being shared, and it does not add up, chances are there may be hidden factors that are not being shared. Consider the following response: “May I have your permission to share an observation with you? It seems like there are some contradictory things going on here. Here's what I see. What are your thoughts?”

It is also important to listen for facts (Prov. 18:13-17). Many times the first thing that students share is not the most basic one. There are usually two or more sides to many issues students share.

A–Ardent Emotions

Passionate emotions generally indicate a significant situation. You can help clarify the emotions by asking, “It sounds like something here is really important to you. Tell me more about that.”


D–Discernment

Discernment identifies what a person thinks they need to do for the action they need to take in any given situation. Your response might be, “It seems like you have identified what you need to do. Are there any things standing in the way of accomplishing this? What do you think they are?”


A–Archives

Archives are reflections from “the past and reveal events from their history that might apply to the current situation.” As a coach, you might ask, “What could your past experience in this area reveal or suggest for your current situation?”


R–Repetition

Repetition of certain words, phrases or ideas reveals an area of importance that should be investigated further. Such as, “I've noticed you said, ‘I can't’ a few times in our conversation today. Talk with me a moment about that.”


Be an active listener by looking at the speaker directly, putting aside distracting thoughts, nodding occasionally, smiling, displaying an inviting posture, and encouraging more conversation with verbal comments- “yes,” “uh-huh.”


Purpose to make a difference every day in the lives of your students—be active listeners and good coaches. In your devotional time, ask the Holy Spirit to point out the areas where you need to make changes.

 

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