Listen to understand

Jaime Yáñez
4 min readMay 6, 2022
Photo by: Franco Antonio.

If you’ve ever accompanied someone to help solve something in a team, you know that it’s not easy to get a complete picture of what’s going on in their head. As an Agile Coach, it is easy to assume that the person you are working with is thinking about the same things as you. The truth is that this is usually not the case. One of the primary skills you need to master is being able to “listen to understand” instead of just hearing the facts and responding immediately.

It’s all about being present

“Being present” is a well-known concept in Agile Coaching, but unfortunately, it is very little practice. It is about being here and now. To be an active listener as an Agile Coach, you have to exercise your entire presence, and this is:

- Be fully engaged with what is happening right now, without any distractions.

- Listen to understand, not just to respond or react.

- Focus on what the other person is saying and see things from their perspective.

- Do not judge or evaluate while listening, but simply listen and let the other person speak freely without interrupting.

- Pay attention to body language and non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and eye contact, which can convey emotions such as anger or sadness.

Being present, being here and now: It is a gift. It is something we can give to ourselves and something we can provide to others. It is an act of love.

When we are fully present — when we are really here — our hearts are open, our minds are clear, and it is easy to be kind, loving, and compassionate.

Being present does not mean having a blank mind or not thinking about anything; it’s about being fully engaged in whatever you’re doing. It means focusing on the task at hand without thinking about what happened yesterday or what you have to do tomorrow.

Being present is not easy to master, but it is worth trying because the results can be compelling. When we are fully engaged in what we are doing, we become happier people who create more comfortable lives for others.

Listen to understand, not to respond

Active Listening is the most essential skill when it comes to communication. It’s a way of showing that you’re genuinely committed to the other person. It can help you build stronger relationships.

Active Listening is not only about hearing what someone says but also about understanding why they say it and how they feel about it. This means that you will need to ask powerful, open-ended questions and reflect on what you have heard to make sure you understand it correctly.

Active Listening also requires patience and empathy, especially when people are upset or excited. When people are in this state, they may not be able to clearly explain their thoughts or feelings, so try asking questions that give them time to collect their reviews and formulate a response.

Active Listening is one of the most critical competencies of an Agile Coach

It’s a skill you can practice every day, and it’s invaluable to those who work closely with you. It will help you be more effective in your work, and it will also help you build relationships with others.

When we talk about active Listening, we mean focusing on what someone is saying rather than thinking about what to say next or worrying about what happened. When we listen actively, we hear what is being said and understand why it is essential to the speaker. Sometimes we even reflect on what we have listened to so that he knows that we know him enough to respond appropriately.

Listening with empathy means understanding where they are coming from and how they feel about something based on the words they use and their body language. This helps us know how best to respond or guide them through a situation without causing further harm or discomfort.

Active Listening can be difficult at first because our minds tend to wander while someone is speaking. Fortunately, some simple strategies can help us stay focused on what is being said instead of thinking about what we want to say next:

- Do not think about what you are going to say next.

- Avoid interrupting.

- Do not judge or give your opinion unless you are asked.

- Listen to feelings, not facts.

- Ask questions to check your understanding and clarify unclear or confusing points.

- If you’re unsure what they mean by something they said, ask them what they meant instead of assuming you know what they mean.

So why is active Listening such an essential skill for Agile Coaches? It’s simple: It allows you to accompany ethically. The ability to listen helps you be more effective in coaching, mentoring, facilitating, and training. Active listeners can understand the needs of their team members and help them ethically achieve their goals. The better you listen, the more effectively you can accompany.