Saturday, 4 December 2010

SMART Goals (part 5) - Listening

There’s a reason we have 2 ears and only 1 mouth.  A key skill for a coach or fitness instructor is an excellent listening style.  Questioning techniques can help this, but to really get it right, you have to totally focus on the other person. You need to block out all of your own thoughts and subconscious desires to try to identify with the other person.

Listening to a member or client takes a lot of practice and does not come naturally to most people.  Social nature and wanting to ‘connect’ makes us want to share experiences, and before you know it, you are talking about yourself rather than listening to the other person.  And when the other person is a paying client, this is not good.

The other problem that fitness professionals (and coaches) have is that they are seen as the ‘expert’.  They are expected to give (and also want to give) advice and direction.  However, without first listening to the client’s situation, and finding out what they want, it’s very difficult to set goals and help the client work towards them.  Doctors are also experts, but seldom do they leap to conclusions.  They will usually spend time asking about symptoms and listening to the patient before the diagnosis.

In workshops and team coaching sessions, we often spend time developing listening skills through exercises and role play.  More effective listening helps fitness professionals from PTs to instructors, as well as sales, management, customer service and reception staff.  Try listening more yourself, and let us know how you get on in the comments below.

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