Episode 1: Being Heard

In this first episode of Coaching Unwrapped, David and Sarah ask an important question of what is it like to be really heard? How often do we really feel like we've been heard, and what happens when we do? David and Sarah unwrap this topic, talk about their coaching work and their own personal experiences of being heard.

Being Heard
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[00:00:00] Sarah: Hi, I'm Sarah Ives and I'm joined by David Crow. We're both experienced coaches working in the field of coaching for 20 years plus. This is our podcast about our personal experience of what lies beneath coaching convers. We aim for a recipe of good conversation, some practical wisdom, a small dollar of theory, and a soupson of humor.

This first episode asks an important question of what it's like to be really heard. How often do we really experience that in our lives? And what happens when we do, we talk about our coaching work on our own personal experiences of being. So David, I suppose the first question I wanna ask is, is why are we here?

[00:00:48] David: okay. Is that a kind of, why are we here in terms of the podcast or an existential questions and opening

[00:00:54] Sarah: it's too early for existentialism. So in terms of the podcast, why, why did we agree to do this again? Remind me what we're doing.

[00:01:01] David: as we sat here, nervous nervously in our first episode. Yeah, I think we, we talked about this for quite a while.

We've known each other as coaches for quite a few years. We're both pretty experienced. We've been doing this for over 20 years and we've both got quite a few mediums to get out into the world in terms of websites and things like that. And we just thought, well, actually, let's, let's get with what's happening and, and do a podcast.

And I think, I think, you know, we it's taken us quite a while to get around to it, but here

[00:01:30] Sarah: we are, here we are. Yeah. I suppose. I, what about for you? What about for me? Yes. And I think we had a conversation didn't we around quite a lot of what we do is based in theory. And some of it comes from an academic world and I suppose it was my little bit of rebellion wanting to have a conversation rather than a theoretical view of the world.

Cuz I think coaching is very much. About conversations. Yeah. And to just sort of air a little bit about what we think and see if anyone's interested in what we think. So I guess that's where I was coming

from.

[00:02:03] David: Really? Yeah. That's a great way of putting it and, and. I like the idea of coaching being almost minimized to rich conversation, a rich conversation.

Yeah. I tell you

[00:02:14] Sarah: what I find quite interesting is, so we thinking about what we want to talk about is clearly if we're gonna do a podcast, you and I have got something to say hopefully that people want to listen to. And I think that sort of leads me a little bit into where we thought we'd start around.

you know what it's like or what do we mean by being heard? So if we've got something to say, are we sure it's gonna land? What is it about being heard? That's important, particularly in, in coaching. So what do you, what do you think about being heard and what does that mean to you, David?

[00:02:50] David: Okay. So in a way it feels.

axiomatic. It feels a bit obvious that you shouldn't need to spell out what being heard is about, but I think it is important in a way. So for me, it's about being valued, being seen and being known by, by others. And I think there is a bit of a risk factor in terms of what we're doing. You know, we we'll will anybody listen to this?

You know, will anybody out there is anybody out there it's probably different in the context. And I say this, we'll say a bit more later, but as an introvert, it's different in the context of a one-to-one conversation than it is in the conversation of, in a group or a small group or a larger group. And perhaps it's also about the confidence you have as an individual.

To be heard, but it's also about, and I know we're gonna look into this, but it's also about other people hearing you. So the, the, the flip side of this I think, is about being listened to. so that, that's kind of what I would and interesting that we've gone into this as a, as a title of saying, being heard rather than how do you listen well or whatever.

Yeah. But you know, what about you?

[00:03:59] Sarah: I think so what really interested me in this is that, you know, in my working practice and yours, it it's often around listen, And I would say we might, you know, we might do this upside down and come back to listening. But underneath that for me is very much about, so we learn to listen, but are we on the flip side being heard?

And I guess when we first talked about this, this was a bit about sitting up and noticing whether. People are hearing you and that sort of emotional connection. And it, when we first talked about it, it sort of sent me off down a kind of, a bit of a rabbit warrant. You know, I do like a bit of research and a bit about the, sort of almost the anatomy and physiology of how we hear things.

So I kind of went off at a slight tangent on that. And looking at, you know, about the parallels you can draw between the physical aspects of being heard. And sometimes about how loss of hearing can occur as we get older, or we can be certainly not have so much hearing physically throughout our lives.

And I was wondering, this is really going down for me, but I was wondering whether we get some people have this emotional hearing loss. So some people I work with and, and myself that sometimes we don't hear. And that's not a physical thing, obviously, because. Maybe have all our auditory processes in pre in place.

But do we actually hear, because we are receiving messages, formulating them, and at some point we have an emotional block or an inability to hear what's coming in and process that. So not just physiologically, but emotionally. and I suppose you, you know, me and my rabbit, Warrens of that, that's where I got to with, you know, with, with coaching clients.

Are they? Yes, they might be listen. Are they hearing what people are saying? Is it an emotional response?

[00:05:56] David: I think there's a lot in that I, I think really good hearing, really good listening and, and, and hearing somebody else takes a lot of effort and a lot of concentration. And one of the things we, we talked about when we last met was.

Things around how, how the business is going. How many, including how many coaching clients we see in a day and just thinking, you know, if you see more than a handful, two or three or three or four and you are working hard and you really are being there for that person, then it's, it's a lot of effort.

I also think there's probably things that there's perhaps are internal prejudices and are internal blockers that are. List, perhaps struggling to, to hear properly, particularly if, for example, you know, somebody's telling you something that's really difficult, or maybe there's some resonance that you have with it, you know, that, that there's a kind of a link to what they're facing and you are, and you are starting to go into your experience rather than stay with them.

So, yeah, I think the emotional side is. Is absolutely it, it is very important and it may be a, a reason where we block some stuff out. We don't hear it, even though, as you say, all our working faculties are in order.

[00:07:11] Sarah: It's a bit like training your inner self, isn't it? When you are listening to people in a coaching conversation to not follow your own ego down this somebody's told you something, what have you heard?

And then you process it and you may parallel it with yourself and you go, oh yeah, the temptation to kind of say, I know where this is going. I have a similar experience. And then I think, I think you're right. I think we stop hearing what's being said and. We've summarized and processed at that point. And I think often that's based on our own, our own experience of being listened to and being heard.

Yeah. And I know when we started talking about this, we were looking at, we stripping it back to our childhood and our early experiences of it. And I know that was something for you. Particularly linked to that introversion. Yeah. That was interesting. Yeah.

[00:08:01] David: Well being honest, I'm hopefully a bit brave about this.

I mean, I think it has been a, an issue or a challenge for me. It's certainly in growing up and as an adult at times, the whole thing about being heard I come from a family. There were seven in the family, you know, the five kids and my, my mom and dad my mom was one of 14, 14 kids. so how do you get heard with 14?

And when I think back, and at some point I'm aware my siblings might listen to this and they might have things to say, you know, but , they're, you know, they're strong personalities. So I, I also think, and this health warning about theory coming up here, but ADLA is a theory. Warning. Yeah. Theory warning ADLA as a psychotherapist spent a lot of his time focusing in his research on family order.

And where we come in, the family, I was a middle child. I had two twin brothers younger than me and an older brother and older sister. And I kind of my, my route through life or the payoffs that I got were about being a conduit and, and being a, a fulcrum in terms of kind of that, that, that position.

And I think that's where I learned. About listening. But I think it meant that it was perhaps at times a bit harder for me to be heard. Is that an awful generalization to say that if you're a, you know, you know, if you're a coach, you're probably more likely to be an introvert. I don't know, but you know, I, it does make, make,

[00:09:35] Sarah: No,

[00:09:37] David: okay.

But I, I also have a sense and this is going into the very wide world, is that is. One of the things I think about in terms of education and for us as adults. And I've noticed this when I've been, I've trained a lot of coaches over the years and virtually everybody, when you ask them, they say, what's the hardest thing about coaching.

And they say, it's, it's really listening. it's setting aside your prejudices. It's focusing, it's not interrupting, it's leaving a few seconds for that person to, to make sure they processed all they're gonna do so that there there's lots of elements to it. But you're right. There is a personal aspect to me.

My, my sense of my sense of being heard. What, what about you? What, what are your experiences of being heard or not

[00:10:23] Sarah: heard? So when we first. Talked about being heard. And we got into this conversation, you and I, I sort of, I had to reflect on it. So it's not something that comes up for me. And maybe that's because I'm an extroverted talker.

So maybe I haven't considered the being heard. Quite so much. So that kind of blows your theory about coaches being introvert. So, uh or is it just good coaches for introvert? yeah. Yes. So my experience, when I, when I really looked at it was of being in a very kind of Northern maternal. Well, my dad, my dad was very much introverted and quiet and all the women were quite loud.

And and I'm well aware that my my siblings were listening to this too, but I probably was the least. The, I wouldn't say the quietest, but I, because I was the youngest, I think quite often I got away with things more easily. So I wasn't always stepping in and needing to be listened to, or needing to be heard as much, I think.

But actually I do find that sometimes when I feel. Aren't hearing what I'm saying. I either two, two things that I ha happen to me, not in my coaching relationships, but me personally, I either withdraw because I'm irritated and fed up with not being heard or I talk over. The other person a kind of, sort of a verbal elbow goes in and I talk over them.

Yeah. And I'm thinking of particular people who I find really hard to manage their level of talking. And I really don't, I don't think it's very skillful and I don't like myself in that moment when I interrupt. I think I've, I'm going against some of my principles, but it is sometimes it's this lever for being heard when I think there's too much noise.

[00:12:15] David: Yeah. Just listening to that and thinking, well, perhaps there is a, you know, there is a sense that actually. if you are not being heard, you're, you're doing something about it. I dunno if I'm justifying , you know, your perspective here, because it's interesting, I'll say a bit in a minute about my own which is similar to yours, which is kind of opting out or, or, or perhaps trying to, trying to take the talking stick or, or, or, you know, but I

[00:12:43] Sarah: not mentioned the talking stick.

[00:12:45] David: Yeah. But maybe there is something in that, you know, is that yeah. You know, is that if you are not being heard, it's quite drastic in a way to kind of say, well, actually I'm just gonna disengage. I mean, some people literally walk off and go somewhere else, but other people might sit, sat around a dinner, you know, you starters, you don't even have the main course.

thinking I'm not gonna get a word in edgeways. What, you know, what do you.

[00:13:12] Sarah: and is there something quite damaging about swallowing it down all the time and thinking, oh, just, I'm just gonna withdraw and shut that down. And I think, I think it's a choice, isn't it? I think as I've, should we say matured rather than we're not gonna mention getting older, but as I've matured, I think it's a choice for me to withdraw.

and is it, you know, do I, do, I think it's really important are the stakes that high that I get heard sometimes. Yes. And I think that's when my verbal elbow will come out. Yeah. But sometimes I just think, is this, is it necessary for my voice to be in here as well? And I think as you mature, I think sometimes you.

Choices around that. I dunno whether they're good choices or not.

[00:14:00] David: Mm, well, I, I, I, I can't remember who, who said this, but it's a lovely line. It it's something along the lines of make sure that what you say is an improvement on the silence. There's, there's something about you know, for me, there's something about having a bit of a radar about that.

And sometimes I think my internal sensor. It's too strong, kind of like don't say that. No, that's not a great idea. And I probably know I'm feeling more comfortable. I had a book group, we I've got an online book group and there's seven or eight of us. And I swore, and I don't normally swear, but I was, I was, it was to do with everything that was going on in the sort of political arena, you know, and I, I kind of let go and then I thought actually it's okay.

Yeah. So I think there's something in what you say about, certainly for me taking a few more risks. and not listening too much to the internal sensor. And I have I hope my wife doesn't mind me saying this, but I, one of the things I've learned from her is that idea that a bit, like you said, is using, what did you call it?

Verbal verbal elbow. Yeah. To say, Hey, you know what? I've got some things to say here. Yeah. I guess I, I also make a judgment call or about the audience or the people that I'm around. About whether or not they , they're likely to hear. Yeah. And if I think they're not, then I probably think, okay, why, why bother?

And the other thing I, I, I, I kind of was thinking about being heard and I'm conscious, this is gonna potentially sound a bit a bit arrogant, but I think one of the things that I have found as I've got older is that I've become more discerning around people. I spend time with. So I do have a fi a principle of reciprocation, right.

You know, obviously my, my work, my professional work is being there and hearing people, really hearing them and helping them navigate where they go next in their lives. But I think out of work socially, and friends-wise, I want to be around people who are curious, not. So I don't, I don't, I think there was a time where I might have even kind of, you know, had a percentage of a conversation thought I've had 20% of that or 30% or whatever.

So I, I don't want to count that anally, but I think there's something about saying is somebody concerned and is somebody able to hear me here as well as me hear them. And I think that over the years has meant that I've my friendship group is quite different to what it. Many years ago, that's an impressive

[00:16:31] Sarah: friend filter.

[00:16:33] David: well, it doesn't mean there's, there's very many of them. It's always

we

[00:16:36] Sarah: don't make it through the filter. I suppose the other bit for me, when I'm listening to you, is that just going back a bit is around having courage and being so on the one side there's I'm not being heard putting a verbal elbow in, listen to me, you know, and on the other side it's so.

Not speaking up because we're afraid and not cuz we can't get a word in edgeways. And that interests me as, as much as the word in edgeways cuz throughout our lives. I think all of us have had a situation where we've. come to this crossroads and we have an option. Do I say it or don't I say it? And I think if we feel we're not being heard sometimes it's cuz we've not stepped into that space, like you were saying.

So having some courage and being brave and So that just reminds me a little bit of, this is an anti theory moment is I was talking about being brave and having courage with people. And I was thinking, where have I heard that quote from, which was have courage. And be kind. And it was Cinderella

[00:17:46] David: look, where would we be with that?

Not Cinderella. You know, we, we need a bit of Disney in our lives.

[00:17:51] Sarah: It's interesting though, in just in that little Disney bit is there's so much in there about if you want to be heard, you do need to have courage at times in our personal lives. Sometimes speaking. And saying what we think and being heard, we can jeopardize relationships and sometimes we don't do it because we think we want to maintain the status quo, preserve those relationships and at work.

And a lot of people I coach feel there is a lot to lose. By speaking up at times, I spend a lot of my coaching life talking about having challenging conversations with people. They're afraid that they may be heard. In a way they don't want to be and how it will land. So I think for me, the, the courage is a really interesting aspect underneath being heard, as well as getting your point across.

I think it's much deeper than just getting your point across.

[00:18:49] David: Yeah, I, I it's well said I it's a really important part of being heard. I don't know if, if they're necessarily two ends of a spectrum as such, you know, maybe those two things can sit together. This, this point about what you are talking about is saying that is, is, is taking the risk to be heard.

Yeah. But also perhaps alongside that, there is a, you know, there is a judgment. that we can all make is, is this worth the anxiety or is it worth putting myself out there to say this? And we probably all, we all make those judgment calls and there's probably times where, but you know, I, look, I hear what you say about the, about the courage and that's for me, something about lifelong learning.

I think I'm. Try and take more risks now. Yes, but I think that perhaps other people, I, you know, whether or not people listening to this might have, this might have an element to this. If you always jump in there may be times where you just think, you know what, I'm gonna sit back this time or I'm gonna just dial, I'm gonna dial the the, dial it down a.

[00:19:59] Sarah: That's interesting, actually the dialing down as well, because we've talked about stepping in, we've talked about being brave when we speak you know, all the, the, well, I'm gonna mention the theory word myself, the theory will show that around 7% of what we set, what we say is that auditory bit, a lot of it's paralinguistic and a lot of it is body language.

Yeah. So Sometimes we are being heard without being verbal. So sitting back with our arms crossed, we might, what's being heard by others is actually it's silence, but you are looking disconnected. You are looking angry. So sometimes we're heard through nonverbal methods as well. So that's quite an interesting.

Root in itself to go down is how much, what people interpret as well. Is, is that being heard, you know, people are interpreting us all the time. We'll never go out again now and never speak, never go out.

[00:21:01] David: never cross your legs and never sort stocks still you're right. I, I, I think was it anyway, it doesn't matter.

It was Morian or something like that. Wasn't it? I think it was. Did the initial research, but it is a staggering amount, which is the, around the words that we say. Yeah. And a huge amount around our posture and yeah. How we're looking and as, as the face has got thousands and thousands of different expressions,

[00:21:26] Sarah: it's a good job.

They can't see us now. Yeah.

[00:21:31] David: So what would you say to people who, I mean, this is the other side of the coin in a way again, but how, what would you say to people who get hurt all the.

[00:21:41] Sarah: To get that's a nice way putting it. Isn't it. That's not a direct hit to me. Is it David? No. Yeah, it is not. Do you know when we, when I thought about this, I was thinking, you know, you're very rarely here people saying, do you know what you get?

I get heard too much. You get heard too much. I think getting heard all the time. I don't know. I think it's an interesting concept. Do they know, would people be aware that their voice is always heard? I don't know. I don't know what I would say to people maybe look at a conversation that you've had and going back to your percentages, think about how much of the time you were speaking.

So not just about being heard, but how much space do you take up? I would say that with my clients sometimes. Being mindful of how much of the time you are being talking, because actually being heard is not proportionate to 90% of the air time. So yeah. What about you? What about people who get heard too much?

[00:22:48] David: I think there's some, there's something about, there's a little bit of theory. John Whitmore talks about two elements of coaching. One is self-awareness and the other is responsibility for action. and I, I certainly have seen people over the years, many with good self-awareness, but certainly somebody comes to mind and I'm conscious.

I've been very careful about anonymity and confidentiality here. This one particular person came into the meeting room into the coaching room and it took me 20 minutes to get out, to make them a cup of tea because there were sisters kind of, it was like a verbal tidal wave. And surprise, surprise. They, that the issue was, and a very senior person as well, but used to kind of throwing their weight around and in a sense, it felt a little bit like I got, because people are too frightened to say it to that person.

They, they ended up persuading this person to come to coaching. So that was a, that was a tough. A tough piece of work, but it, it, it was, and it wasn't that he didn't have any useful things to say because he did, but he just, you know, was no sense of percentages. No sense of interactivity. So I think there is, there is something where if there is a scintilla of self-awareness, people probably know if they're holding the talking stick too much, you know, and to, and, and to share it out a little bit What would be what I would, you know what I would say?

I, the other thing that we know in, in coaching is that we probably would use something like a 360. Yeah. Either formal or informal where you're getting other people coming back. But you have to make sure that , the person doesn't know who they are. you know, that whole anonymity thing of feedback

[00:24:39] Sarah: and, and it flips the coin though.

Doesn't it? It says, are you being heard? but also, are you hearing others? Yeah. And I think that's key when you, yeah. If you're doing that proper sort of holistic coaching and working with people, the bit for me is, is coaching people into that space as well. So not just being heard, but hearing others.

Yeah.

[00:24:58] David: Maybe as we kind come towards the end of this, this, this episode, it is that fusion of those two, you know, it isn't just about being heard. It, it it's. You understanding your sense of what others and, and, and your own kind of, you know, your own approach to listening. I'm just wondering, I dunno if we touched on that, but what would you, if I asked you about listening, what for you would be the things around how you listen, how you really listen, they call it.

I think they call one of the things I've heard about is deep generative listening, where we, you know, we're down two or three levels, and we're really focusing on.

[00:25:38] Sarah: There's a physical aspect to listening for me that I think is learned. And it's being in the moment and realizing that you have to set yourself into this listening mode for me.

And even at, you know, we could, we could go on for another 30 minutes about listening and maybe we will . But the, the very first thing for me is setting. Both my feet on the ground when I'm sitting, allows me to listen, I consciously put my feet on the ground as my first kind of posturing, really, to, to listen to what someone's got to say.

It's amazing how that opens up my ears. So grounding myself as the first thing I would do that. And many more things , but I think I, I would want to do justice to that in completely unwrapping that. How we listen. Yeah. What about you? What be your first thing? I,

[00:26:27] David: for me, it would be a statement of intent.

It would be something about, because I, I think people can listen. I think anybody can listen. It's a bit like that thing where people say, you know, I can't. everybody can sing. Yeah. You know they may not sing like an opera singer or Fred mercury, but they, they, you know, they, they can sing. I think it's cuz we were talking about Bohemian rap

[00:26:46] Sarah: yesterday that , I'm not gonna run this off by singing.

I'm really never gonna sing. No. Yeah.

[00:26:53] David: But I, I think, I think it's mostly about intent. Absolutely. There are other things about learning, not to interrupt. Particularly one of my personal favorites is the idea of story topping. You know, you sometimes get people asking you a question. Which is perhaps, you know, where have you been in holiday?

And you kind of know that as soon as you say with such and such and, and they will have gone somewhere absolutely amazing exotic. And you know, it's almost like, you know, they're asking you to, in order to, you know, perhaps that's, that's. Terribly cynical way of looking at it, but there is something about not staying with that person in order to really hear all of it.

They're saying without it saying, well, look what this or this happened to me. And I think our mind does that quite a bit, but it's yeah, there's, there's a, there's a, there's a couple of things there. And some, I, I think also there's something about hearing keyword or, or sometimes images, people, you know, some people I can think of use images quite a lot in.

In that conversation. So yeah, I think we're probably coming towards the end of, of this episode, but what, is there anything overall given what we've we've talked about in terms of being heard is what we said was the title was, but we've also kind of almost like integrated this idea of listening.

[00:28:18] Sarah: Yeah. I, it. For me, what happens is we start off with something quite simple. On the surface we look at being heard and we've delved quite deeply in there. And the bit for me is the, the amount of strands that are to being heard, whether it's physically being heard, emotionally being heard. It involves a lot of listening, but it also involves us getting into a space where we can do it.

Yeah, I think what about for.

[00:28:46] David: I, I would say it's something we, we don't talk about enough. Considering the amount of conversations that are happening around the world as we speak in the half, our, so that we've had this conversation, there will have been millions of conversations that people would've had probably with differing levels of listening that are happening.

To be fair. It is context specific as well. It depends. If you are in a social group, I was at a wedding three weeks ago. I could hear about 40% of what was being said, you know, it's, I just couldn't hear cuz there's this mass pounding music in the background, you know, and somebody's saying something and I'm trying to pick up the sense of what we're saying.

But I, I, I think it is important. It's something we're not taught a lot unless we go into the kind of work that you and I do. Yeah. I would say to people, if you are listening to this, what does it bring up for you? Do you get heard? Are you listening enough? perhaps might be you know, challenging coaching questions and it's just a very, it's an important thing to reflect on.

And I think it's something we can be better about. We can be better listeners whether or not we're introverts or extrover , but it, it, it takes time and effort, but it, it it's worthwhile. It's worth doing would be what I would. I, I wonder if you were gonna give the last word to your mom?

[00:30:12] Sarah: To my mom.

Mm-hmm what I'm being heard. Yeah.

[00:30:16] David: Something about here with your ear or

[00:30:19] Sarah: oh, here with your ear. Okay. Oh, that would no, that was around. How to spell. Okay. Yes. I was gonna, I was gonna end with my last answering to your question about where you're going on holiday and Wales David. I'm gonna Wales.

[00:30:38] David: Well, I hope you have a great time, man. Thank

[00:30:40] Sarah: you. Thanks for listening to the show. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And if you did, please subscribe. If you want to learn more or contact us or get in touch at all, all our details on how to do that are in the show notes.

Episode 1: Being Heard
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