My transformation through deep listening

Artwork by Autumn Skye Morrison “Listening for Truth

“Lu-Tze listened to the senior monks, while leaning on his broom. Listening was an art he had developed over the years, having learned that if you listened hard and long enough people would tell you more than they thought they knew.”

Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

It is with deep gratitude that I begin this reflection on the last few months and all the learnings that were part of the Coaching Essentials Programme that I just completed. Not only did this course provide me with so many opportunities for developing new skills, but it also created space for moments of real personal transformation. What strikes me the most is that the key element present throughout this whole journey was the experience and the practice of deep listening. It was through deeply listening to myself, others and their silences as well as through being listened to that these inner shifts and changes became possible for me.

Listening to others

It was on the very first day of the course that I reflected in my journal about how moved I was by the practice of listening deeply. It seemed so extraordinary to me that a skill so basic and fundamental in human communication was actually something that I had never been taught or learned to do. I was convinced that if all I gained from this course was becoming a better listener, it was absolutely worth it.

Very soon after starting my practice sessions, I began to notice a subtle shift in how I was listening to others. Deep listening always felt like slowing down and nearly like being in meditation with someone, together witnessing and observing their thoughts. When I listen deeply, I can notice subtle shifts in certain words or metaphors carefully chosen by the client. Further questions about that always lead the client into greater insights or discoveries. Each time I am engaged in such listening practice, I can feel my own presence and growing trust that the coaching process has its own timing and flow towards a conclusion or a solution that the client is looking for.

During the weeks of the course, I had a conversation with a friend which really stands out for me, because it highlighted how much I was beginning to integrate in terms of my listening practice. She invited me over to be able to share about her grieving process after having lost a family member. It was a difficult subject, but I truly found myself so grounded in the present moment, listening to her, asking questions and making space for silence. Of course, it was not meant to be a coaching session, but I could really tell that me listening deeply, holding that space, and being curious about her world made huge shifts in her.

I truly believe that the practice of deeply listening to others has transformed me into someone who is able to hold space and be of true service to others.

Listening to silence

I believe that learning to be present and listen to silence is a huge component of deep listening. In the beginning of the course, the pauses and slowing down before asking questions did not feel natural to me. In fact, stillness and silences made me quite uncomfortable because I did not want them to be interpreted as me not knowing what I was doing (which, of course, sometimes was very much the case).

With more and more practice, the discomfort began to diminish. Especially, as I began to realise how much value there was in silence for the client and for me as a coach. Sometimes those few extra seconds served to ensure that the client would not be interrupted in their thinking process. Just because they had stopped talking, it did not mean they had stopped thinking. Often, holding that pause resulted in a new wave of thoughts and brilliant insights that the client would have without any further questions or reflections from me.

Learning to listen to silence has proven to be a tremendous resource for me as a coach as well. There is a stillness, a powerful presence in those moments of waiting which quiets down the feeling that I need to solve something. As a coach, my role is to support and make space for the client’s time to think. Therefore, if I am about to break the silence, it truly has to add value. Moments of silence have become a perfect container in which my next question or reflection can be formulated with more precision and clarity. With some practice, I even became more comfortable with silence without the need to have that next question ready as soon as the client finishes talking. It truly is an art to be able to reflect or ask questions that contain just the right amount of words. And learning to listen to silence is an integral part this process.

When I reflect back on the sessions that I had as a coach, I do not recall any particular questions that I asked. However, what does come to mind are the sessions in which I was able to respect the silence and co-create some incredibly powerful moments with the client. Listening to silence while the client was still immersed in deep thinking process even long after she had finished speaking, and then witnessing her suddenly light up and share new insights – these are the moments I am most proud of. Being able to deeply listen to silence with presence and awareness is a true superpower that I did not even know I had.

Being listened to

It was also on the very first day that I felt deeply affected by my first experiences of being listened to. The fact that it struck me so much shows how rarely I had experienced that in my life before.

Even from the very first somewhat clumsy practice sessions, while we were all still learning about what coaching was, I found being in the client’s role so valuable. The very fact that someone was simply being present and deeply listening to me seemed to unlock an amazing possibility to dive deeper and access clarity. Each session in which I was a client felt so powerful and healing even before I had actually arrived at any resolution or conclusion.

During one of the classes, there was a particular demonstration exercise for which I had volunteered that triggered some strong emotions within me. As I recall that day now, I feel such deep gratitude for being truly listened to. The group’s energy was so united and supportive that immediately my state of being shifted to feeling so validated and seen. It was a powerful example of how healing deep listening can be during vulnerable moments.

Being deeply listened to during these past few months has given me a regular space to unblock and untangle so many areas that previously felt unclear. I was also able to use the sessions for brainstorming and organising my thoughts and ideas. This allowed me to set my priorities and goals, as well as to proceed with some very clear actions towards them. Feeling listened to and witnessed in this process also brought a sense of greater accountability and commitment towards it.

Listening to myself

My reflection on the practice of deep listening would be incomplete without sharing about my experience of listening to myself. By that I mean both – listening to the actual recordings of the sessions as well the ability to listen to my inner dialogue.

Perhaps the biggest shift in my practice as a coach came from the experience of listening to first session I had recorded. It truly gave me another perspective that I was not aware of prior to that. Much of the feedback and comments that I had received from my colleagues had been very positive and encouraging. However, listening back to the session really made me aware of those areas where I could still make significant improvement. For example, in my earliest sessions, at the end I used to provide a brief summary for the client of their thinking journey. Although the colleagues had commented that it was useful, listening to the recording made me realise that it was much more supportive to the client to ask them about what they were taking with them. In the recordings these summaries of mine actually sounded quite intrusive in the client’s thinking time, and I became very careful about keeping all the reflections very brief and concise. I feel this made the sessions more self-empowering and centred around the client’s thought process.

As the course progressed, my ability to listen to myself and my inner dialogue also became more attuned. Being able to ask myself relevant questions and deeply listening to what was present within me became an important daily practice. I ended up having an incredibly powerful and transformative experience of self-coaching to which I dedicated a few hours over the course of two days. It was based on the key principles of coaching and centred around the victim-persecutor-rescuer triangle. I chose a very challenging subject and investigated it through external projections and internal roles that I was playing in it. I used a question and answer format and typed up answers freely without too much thinking, as if these three roles were three different clients I was being a coach to. The results were truly astounding. I felt so seen and so validated in a new way and also discovered so many things that I had never even considered. It was as if years of internal drama was resolved through this decision to be truly present with and listen to what each part had to say.


Coaching Essentials Programme has been a truly transformative experience for me. It equipped me with new skills and knowledge to continue with the coaching path, trusting that it will lead me exactly where I need to go. I feel very grateful to the teachers and the colleagues for all the connections, warmth, acceptance, vulnerability, sharing and support.

Most importantly, the course created opportunities to be listened to and to listen to others, their silences and to myself. I have learned that listening is truly an art, and if we listen deeply enough, we will always be told more than we thought we knew.

P.S. Are you curious whether coaching could support your path? Let us connect to find out.


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