This book answers a number of fundamental questions about listening in coaching and mentoring. What difference does being heard make to the speaker? How does it have that effect? What are the necessary components of good listening? How do you evaluate your practice as a listener and how do you improve?
The process of writing this book led the author to look closely at his own practice, test, experiment, and push his listening to a higher level. He invites the reader to do the same. This book identifies what it takes to listen well – the skills, mind-set, presence, self-awareness and self-management – and why it can be hard. It demonstrates how four modes of listening – attention, inquiry, observation and use of self – all contribute to the listener’s understanding and to the speaker’s awareness. It argues that we all have a ‘learning edge’ as listeners and provides a framework that helps each of us find it.
The book is intended as a companion for anyone who commits to becoming a good listener. It shows how to develop expertise in the four modes of listening. It offers examples and principles to guide practice, questions for reflection, and a series of ‘workouts’ to help the listener develop their ability to listen. It encourages by showing how good listening is simple – you turn up, pay attention, and listen with all you have, and it challenges by identifying the work it takes to do that.
Table of Contents
1. The Power of Great Listening
2. Getting Ready to Listen
3. The Four Modes of Great Listening
4. The Four Modes in Operation
5. Three Paths to Listening Mastery
6. Learning to Attend
7. Learning to Inquire
8. Learning to Observe
9. Learning to Resonate
10. Becoming and Being a Great Listener
Stephen Burt is the Director of Gibsonstarr Ltd, UK, specialising in the development of leaders. With over 30 years’ experience, he has learnt to listen as a senior leader, coach and facilitator, and, most recently, through playing jazz guitar and performing improvised comedy.
"This is an important guide to both the skills involved in listening and the art of being a good listener, ad full of wisdom and reflections for both new and second coaches." - Coaching at Work, November 2019
"It is strange that sometimes the very foundation of our practice is taken for granted. We become fascinated with things as complex as the processes in the brain but tend to overlook the obvious – the role of listening in our work. Stephen Burt does not. His book is a systematic exploration of the various elements of, and conditions for, good listening with a useful structure to guide understanding. Not just an opinion-based text, it is supported by a wide range of relevant conceptual and research-evidenced sources. It will be an important asset for a serious beginner in the coaching field but can also challenge some of the unquestioned assumptions held by seasoned practitioners." - Professor Tatiana Bachkirova, Director of the International Centre for Coaching and Mentoring Studies at Oxford Brookes University
"A pioneering book which provides the reader with a comprehensive tour of the art of listening. Stimulating from a conceptual point of view and highly practical for those wishing to deepen their way of being with another person. It provides real added-value to the coaching and mentoring world - a book to read and return to many times." - Mary Devine, leadership trainer and coach
"Stephen Burt provides a comprehensive exploration of the skill of listening; why we should do it, how we should do it and the impact it can make on our conversation practice. This is an essential read for coaches, consultants, managers, and anyone who wants to communicate effectively with others, on a topic which is too often neglected". - Dr Jonathan Passmore, Director of Henley Centre for Coaching, Henley Business School, University of Reading
"Stephen Burt has looked and listened deeply to himself and many others to uncover the power of listening in helping people find their unique voice. Grounded in his understanding that good listening requires an inner stillness and calmness that can often elude us in our busy lives, this book gets to the heart of why listening matters, in all relationships, and offers useful models and tools to help us all do it better." - Sally-Anne Airey, leadership coach and retreat leader
"We often take for granted that we know what listening is and how to do it. Stephen’s book is an important reminder of both the science and art of listening, and of the inner work coaches must do to develop their listening capacity. This engaging and well-written book is full of wisdom and reflections - for both new and seasoned coaches." - Aboodi Shabi – Lecturer in Coaching and Behavioural Change – Henley Business School