How do mind skills influence listening in life coaching?

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Life Coaching Blog

Successful life coaching sessions are synonymous with acute mind skills – that is to say, for you to deliver the most to your life coaching clients, well-honed mind skills are a vital asset – particularly when it comes to listening.

Active mind skills to listen effectively in life coaching

As a life coach, you’ll actively listen when your clients are ready to identify problems as well as find solutions. Cues that someone is open to being coached are, for example:

  • “Can you assist me to think about a number of things?”
  • “I’d like to get you opinion on some ideas .”
  • Could you help me to think about things realistically?”
  • “I require some assistance.”

In these moments, six active mind skills can help you turn a typical conversation into a coaching opportunity, by enhancing your ability to listen effectively.

Be attentive

Convey a positive attitude to your ‘coachee’, and a willingness to talk through the situation. If timing is a problem, let the person know you’re that you’re interested. Make a commitment to sticking to a time for the two of you to have a focused conversation. During this conversation, remind yourself that your role is not to interrogate the client. In addition, it’s not about jumping to advice-giving or solving the problem yourself.

Near the end of the conversation, accurately summarise the coachee’s main ideas, concerns and feelings. Allow for ‘wait time’ before you respond. Don’t cut the client off. In addition, don’t finish their sentences, or start formulating your answer before they have finished. Be conscious of your body language.

Ask open-ended, investigative questions

These kinds of questions help the coachee to do the work of self-reflection and problem solving as opposed to merely justifying or defending a position or – alternatively – trying to guess the ‘right answer’. Examples of these types of questions include:

  • What do you feel about …?”
  • “Describe a situation when …”
  • “Will you explain/describe a bit more in detail …?”

The emphasis is on asking as opposed to telling. It invites a thoughtful response by the life coachee and maintains the spirit of cooperation.

As the life coach, you may say:

  • “What are some of the particular things that you’ve tried?”
  • “Have you posed the question to the team about what their main worries are?”
  • “Does xxx agree that there are performance challenges?”
  • “How confident are you that you have been given the full picture of what’s going on?”

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Recap the client’s key points from time to time. Don’t believe that you understand correctly or, alternatively, that the coachee knows you’ve heard and understood them.

For example, your client might tell you something along the lines of, “Emma is so faithful and supports her people. But, no matter how much I drive her team they keep missing deadlines.”

To paraphrase this, you could say something like, “So Emma’s people skills are top-notch however accountability is a problem.”

Be attuned to and reflect feelings

With active listening, it will become possible for you to identify the ‘feeling message’ that goes with the content. This is an efficient way to get to the heart of the issue.

When you hear, “I don’t know what else I can do!” or “I’m tired of rescuing the team out at the last possible second,” try to help the coachee label their feelings: “IT sounds like you’re feeling pretty frustrated and in a rut.”


Briefly re-state the core themes raised by your client:

  • “Let me summarise to make sure I understand. Emma was advanced to manager and her team adores her. But you don’t feel that she holds them accountable. This means that mistakes are accepted and keep on happening. You’ve done everything you can think of however; nothing has happened. Have I understood correctly?”

Once the situation has been worked through in this manner, both you and the client will have a clear picture of the status quo. From this point, the conversation can turn to problem-solving. Questions can be asked such as:

  • What hasn’t been tried?
  • What don’t we know?
  • What new approaches could be taken?

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