Coaching Through Listening

In order to find the correct balance between listening and communicating, it is first to define what context the balance is being sought. For instance, the listening/communicating balance will be different for an elementary teacher and a nurse. For those in the coaching profession, finding proper balance is imperative for effectiveness.

For a coach, a core interpersonal skill is listening (Phillips, 1995, p. 7). This is different from the traditional qualities of being a manager, which most leaders are accustomed to. Many managers are highly competitive, find it difficult to listen to others, enjoy soling problems, likes to be in control, and likes to be perceived as an expert; all qualities that lean more on communicating in high volumes rather than listening in high volumes (Philips, 1995, p. 7) In order to be a successful coach, though, there needs to be a degree of relationship involved where the coach is not just giving direction, but is engaged in understanding the clients from active listening over time. In order for most leaders to incorporate coaching into the toolbox of skills, they must learn how to listen actively; this will them to effectively transfer knowledge to others. The transfer of knowledge frows from relationships of trust, so coaches must be credible, which requires listening and learning in order to understand the client being coached (Ulrich, 2008, p. 105)

When a coach has learned to effectively listen, it will increase the impact when they do communicate to their clients. When a coach will actively listen, this allows the clients to be more open to listening because they have communicated at length giving them a sense of safety as well as control in the conversation and in the relationship with the coach (Wilson, 2011, p. 409) This increases the success of the coach by listening rather than communicating.


Dave Ulrich. (2008). Coaching for results. Business Strategy Series, 9(3), 104–114.

Phillips, R. (1995). Coaching for higher performance. Executive Development, 8(7), 5–7.

Wilson, C. (2011). Developing a coaching culture. Industrial and Commercial Training, 43(7), 407–414.

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