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    People talk a lot.
    We speak to our friends our family, our colleagues and our loved ones but how many of us are really and truly listening?
    You see listening isn’t so easy.
    It sounds easy (yes another pun) but a lot of the time we confuse listening with ‘waiting to reply with an answer’.
    And, that isn’t listening.
    We often speak over people or try to get our point across whilst someone else is talking yet doing this ultimately means we believe that what we have to say, is more important than what they have to say.
    Becoming a life coach changed my perception of listening.
    I studied hard, took exams and practiced my coaching technique a lot.
    It was all going well until one day I asked an old timer friend of mine, who had been a therapist for 40 years, if I could practice my coaching with
    with him.
    He kindly agreed. This man was a gentleman. An old school English gentlemen, wise, eloquent, fascinatingly intelligent, methodical and very kind.
    The day came and we sat down together and off I went, launching into my practice with him.
    I gave solutions, I gave answers and I gave everything I had.   I thought I was doing great!
    The hour was up,  I sat there pretty smug and ready for his feedback.
    He looked at me kindly.
    Then he gave me the best piece of advice I had ever received which was something I will never forget.
    ‘Jacqueline’ he said ‘I only have one piece of advice. When your clients talk you have to SHUT THE ….. UP AND LISTEN.
    It blew my mind.
    Not only that this English gentleman used and expletive (!) but because I had been so focused on getting my point across, on giving an answer, of having the right reply or handing over the solution to the problem,  I hadn’t even realised I wasn’t fully listening.  
    Best. Lesson. Ever.
    From that day on I did exactly as he said.
    When people start to talk, I start to listen.
    It took time to learn how to shut up. It took time to learn to be conscious and aware of listening but I soon got the hang of it and then you know what?
    It changed everything for me.
    When you truly listen you really hear what people say, not what you think they say.
    When you truly listen you realise that what you would have said if you hadn’t listened, would probably have made no sense at all.
    When you truly listen you get the gold. You remain a step ahead.
    And, best of all when you truly listen you build stronger communication channels and therefore build better relationships.
    So I dare you to try it.
    For like a whole day.
    You’ll be amazed.