Common Barriers to Listening Effectively

Much has been said in just about all coaching training programs and systems about the importance of active listening on the part of the coach during the coaching process, but the truth of the matter is that even the most experienced life and business coaches often find themselves struggling with common barriers to listening effectively. No matter whether you are just starting on the path to become a professional coach or you have been running a successful coaching practice for years, the chances are that you will continue to encounter these barriers throughout your career due to simple human nature.

Thankfully, knowing how to spot these issues makes it much easier to put yourself in check so that you continue listening actively to your clients without letting your personal assumptions and attitudes muddy the waters of what they are trying to say. While there are any number of barriers to active listening, a couple of the most persistent ones include personal biases and previous experiences. Let’s take a quick look at how to recognize and overcome each of these listening barriers as they arise.

Personal Biases

It’s one thing to say you have an open mind and quite another to listen objectively to clients who backgrounds, values and motivations differ from your own. When you are working with a client who is describing a circumstance or obstacle that strikes a strong emotional cord with you personally, be aware of how your personal biases might effect you ability to listening effectively.

Previous Experiences

Although it’s useful to try to put yourself in your clients’ shoes during the coaching process, it can be easy to fall into the natural habit of comparing your own previous experiences with something that a client is trying to describe. When this happens, we start filling in the blanks of a client’s statements with details from our own memories, often at the expense of understanding what he or she is trying to stay. To avoid this listening barrier, take a moment to remind yourself that each person’s experiences of a particular circumstance are theirs alone, and it’s your responsibility as a coach to keep your client in the driver’s seat of the coaching process. is a proud member of the Power Practice Network. For more helpful coaching training and coaching marketing tips, sign up for our free Coaching Jump Start newsletter in the field provided above.