A key purpose of coaching is to help the person or team better understand themselves and their situation. Achieving this purpose, i.e. gaining clarity allows for a greater degree of choice and responsibility.
In Myles Downey's book - Effective Coaching (pg 59), Myles writes - 'the primary function of the coach is to understand'.
The coach is not there to fix or make better or make himself look good.
A professional, ethical coach is there to serve the person / team, so they can understand themselves better and this is best done by - 'listening'.
Listening helps generate an understanding and raises awareness. When the coach doesn't listen, then this acts as interference to the coaching dynamic and will not serve the person in their best interest.
So, what gets in the way of listening to understand*:
other people talking
what I thought they were going to say
what I thought they should say
they were boring
I had already worked out what they should do
I had thought of what they were saying already
what I was thinking was more interesting
thinking of the next question
thinking of my response
what's for dinner
why is he wearing that tie
* - Effective Coaching - Myles Downey
Distraction, a lack of focus and a lack of presence will get the way of you being with the person you are coaching. You are there physically but emotionally detached from building rapport.
It's not just about coaching where 'listening to understand' is so important; it's about all our relationships, whether at work, at home.
Listening to understand - it's right at the far end of the coaching spectrum and allows someone, that person or team being coached, to solve their own problems.
Allowing someone to understand their own problems and to accept they have a choice brings a powerful realisation, building resilience and confidence.
Coaching is about listening and when you listen to understand, a powerful shift in a perception can take place.
This is where creating transformations can help people to wake up and start to work with some of the illusions that holds us back.