Sunday, April 29, 2012


I was talking to some coaches I know recently about their work in business and life coaching. They all felt that a large percentage of the value they give their clients is simply in being someone prepared to listen. They offer a neutral and impartial circumstance – where people can air their feelings, and explore issues. This process alone – being able to talk things out – may often be all that the person needs to find fresh perspective and insight. It’s a truth that psychologists and counsellors know well also.

Of course there’s a skill and experience that these professionals bring in being able to guide a person towards insight and next steps, but the fact remains that somehow in this world we’ve professionalised listening – and that some professionals have assumed roles that in other times or cultures may have been taken by family members or friends.

Being able to talk openly is essential to our well being. We all need the time and space to express and explore feelings, worries, concerns, aspirations, hopes and difficulties. To do so we need someone whom we can trust, someone who won’t react or bring their bias, and someone not directly involved in what it is we may want to talk about. It’s what friends should be for.

Being prepared to listen is one of the most important things friends can do for each other. So the advice for improving your work-life balance and reducing stress is don’t go it alone. Find a friend with whom you can talk things over.  Make sure to set an understanding first though about confidentiality and trust. It can be a mutual pact – a friend who is prepare to listen to your ramblings as you seek to find clarity and to whom you can offer the same in return.

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