As a coach, teacher, healer, and expert, I have a vast arsenal of tools that I can use in service of helping a client.
I have 20 years of experience across a range of industries. Advanced degrees. Deep wisdom from personal experiences.
I can ask powerful breakthrough questions, My yoga teacher toolbox is filled with physical practices, guided meditations, and breathwork. Or I can send energy healing.
My knowledge, experience, skills and tools are in theory why my clients come to me. And I call on all of them in their moments.
But there is one tool that rises above all others in terms of its transformative potential. It’s a tool that is available to anyone, and should be used by more people in everyday conversation, especially professionals in leadership roles.
This tool is the art of reflection, and it is encapsulated by four words:
What I’m hearing is…
Too often in conversations we listen only halfway; our minds are often preoccupied with formulating our response.
Especially if you’re an “expert,” you may tune out on the assumption that you already know what your client’s challenge is and how you will address it.
When you go in to a conversation knowing that you’re going to reflect back to the other person, you listen differently.
You actually listen.
The Power of Reflecting Back
Summarizing what you heard from the other person serves two outcomes.
First, it creates a pause that allows you to respond to the actual substance. Rather than responding to something that the other person didn’t actually say, you can make sure you understood their point. The best way to demonstrate we understand something is to summarize it in our own words.
Second, it allows the speaker to hear themselves. This is where profound transformation occurs. We may have thoughts looping in our heads constantly, but we rarely truly hear ourselves. We are too close to the action.
The Value in Holding Space
In a culture that conditions us about the power of “expertise,” we may buy into the belief that the value we offer lies in our knowledge and experience. The truth is that we rarely need more information.
In fact, the greatest value we can offer another person is to hold the space for them to express themselves and reflect back what we heard — to allow them to hear themselves.
Ultimately this is what creates transformation.
We often have what we need within us. We just need some help pulling it out.