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Still Listening? Two perspectives on Amanda Riding’s workshop.

It was a joy to spend a day with Amanda Riding at her “Still Listening” workshop last month. Who would have thought that connecting with my purpose and intention would have such a profound effect on my ability to listen? And not just listen, but listen with a stillness that I have rarely encountered as listener or talker.   Tricky, awkward, and uncomfortable at first, the exercises Amanda invited us to experience led us into a new level of listening and a deeper connection and uninterrupted, non-judgemental, unguided thinking.   Thank you Siobhan and Louie for those minutes while we worked together.

Amanda brought a purpose and playfulness to the day setting the scene, and spreading some ideas out for us to explore and through that exploration, allowed me to learn what was useful to me. I particularly valued how the check in at the start of the day connected with the whole day.   I used the same check in the following day with a coaching class I teach, and found that same value of connecting my energy, purpose and intention with the work of the day brought me into harmony with the content and my role as facilitator. The class commented on this also.

My biggest learning for the day was how not listening with complete stillness, can be distracting my clients thinking process.   Even a nod, a quiet “uhhu” or an encouraging “go on”, can be a potential judgement or flagging of direction.   I came to the workshop thinking that as a coach, I am a good listener, and can hold the space for my client’s thinking, and I can.  However, there is another level available to me and my clients that is truly spacious and without judgement, in which we can both let go of what we know and move into the unknown and emergent parts of Otto Scharma’s “U”.

This was my first CPPD event following my graduation from the Supervision Academy Diploma, and provided both insight and reconnection. I’m really glad I signed up for it.

Doug Montgomery,

PhD, PCC, APECS Accredited Executive Coach, CSA Coach Supervisor.

Doug@Elmbank-Coaching.co.uk

www.Elmbank-Coaching.co.uk

 

I so enjoyed the CPD day on Bare Listening with Amanda Ridings last week. It was beautifully paced and resourcing, bringing in elements of mindfulness and embodiment as well as listening skills and concepts. Amanda drew our attention to the difference between listening TO and listening FOR. Specifically the day helped me notice the difference between having an intention in my listening (yang, listening for, according to my mental models), or simply being attentive (yin, listening to, being open and receptive to whatever is there). I also really valued the opportunity to consider what is my purpose and to use this in my listening in an embodied way when facing a dilemma or challenge. What *am* I listening to? The issue? Or my purpose? On a macro scale, I suppose the day helped me unpick and make conscious my own psychological contract with myself in my listening, rather than take for granted that it means the same thing all the same time. I can be much more conscious and intentional about it with great, differing results.

 

I particularly liked the “still” listening section, where we listened to our client without displaying any of the customary social cues and weren’t allowed to speak (only listen) thus letting the client do their own work. A la the Nancy Kline “Time to Think” model. Amanda first challenged us on how much we ascribed to the notion that the client has all the answers in coaching. Of course we believe that, right? Ah, well, but how often do we get caught up in wanting to help? To be of value? To problem solve or fix, even? Even the best coaches fall prey to that human instinct from time to time. What I discovered, as the client facing a coach – who gave me no nodding or smiles or other social cues other than her full presence and attention – was that I kept talking and kept coming up against my own barriers. Instead of being “rescued” by the coach in those moments, I had to circle back into my own dialogue and thought process and find the way forward myself. I did that circling 4 or 5 times and ultimately found it really helpful and illuminating. Unconsciously, I probably seek the coach’s input so that I can move away from my own discomfort of not knowing as a client. But the coach’s silent presence helped me stay the course and keep coming back to myself. It was uncomfortable but empowering. As the coach, I also knew that my client would find her own way. I just had to hold the space and be attentive and have an intention of remaining present and connected to my purpose. Without any social cues, though (the smiles and nods and ways of saying “I’m here with you”) I had to convey “I’m here” only through presence. Profound stuff. AND I learned how to pick a seashell out of a basket of identical-looking shells and get to know it so well that I could pick the same shell back out of the basket again later. Lovely way to combine mindfulness and listening/attention. Thank you Amanda and IRCP for a rich development day. I look forward to many more.

Dorothy Atcheson

dorothy.atcheson@gmail.com

CSA UK Diploma – Delivery team & Tutor

CSA USA Mentor

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