20 Sep Does Silence have a Voice?
What happens when you find yourself in the presence of silence.
As coaches, we are trained to master our listening skills. The coach is totally immersed in the conversation with the client right in that moment, we learn how to be absorbed into the words being said, as well as the tone of voice and the feelings transpiring from what the client is saying. We also learn how to use our intuition for what is not being said, something we can sense but not necessarily hear through words. It’s a higher, almost elevated hearing, we call it “level 3” listening in Co-Active Coaching.
Listening is a service. it is not a science, it’s more of a practice. We listen to the words used, we listen for emotions but an essential part of listening is also silence.
Silence in coaching is never for lack of words, ideas or opportunity. Quite the opposite, silence is making space for words, options or opportunity. Silence for the client means exploration, it’s the inward journey the client takes while feeling connected and supported by the coach. This inward journey will take the client to new possibilities, new perspectives where he/she will find a new way. This silence needs space and time: it can’t be rushed and definitely can’t be ignored. When the need for silence is ignored, silence gets louder and it will take control until it’s given attention. Once it’s given space then the mind can quiet down, space is created, emotions can be processed and new thoughts can flow. We can finally hear what is there to be heard.
One of my clients started our coaching session with the topic of physical health. He is concerned about not making time for exercising which is causing him to feel uninspired and with low energy. His need for wellbeing was pretty clear but we realized pretty quickly that what he was missing was more the experience of including some new adventure in his life, something different from what he had experienced in the past when hiking with his friends, biking or running marathons. What he was really missing was the experience of living new adventures with his closest family. He felt uninspired by thinking of yet another biking or hiking trip but he found a completely new energy in thinking about planning a sailing trip with his family. What started as a quest for physical health developed into a want for renewed connection with his family. Words did not take him there, silence did. The silence that followed the word “experience”, the silence where he found a spring of emotion around the thought of sailing with his family. No matter how many words he could have used to describe the benefits of hiking and biking, only silence was able to unfold the need for connection and adventure with his family.
Silence is fertile, it nurtures new ways, it creates new paths. It’s uncharted territory which is also the unknown and can be scary. The beauty of exploring silence in all its richness with a coach is the feeling of support coming from your coach. You know your coach is there in that silence with you. It’s a hand you can reach for if you need to. Your coach it’s the light bulb you can switch on if it gets too dark, your coach is your life-vest but you ultimately do the swimming.
Find the comfort in silence and listen … what is it telling you?