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The Art of Listening in Coaching and Mentoring

This book answers a number of fundamental questions about listening in coaching and mentoring. What difference does being heard make to the speaker? How does it have that effect? What are the necessary components of good listening? How do you evaluate your practice as a listener and how do you improve?

The process of writing this book led the author to look closely at his own practice, test, experiment, and push his listening to a higher level. He invites the reader to do the same. This book identifies what it takes to listen well – the skills, mind-set, presence, self-awareness and self-management – and why it can be hard. It demonstrates how four modes of listening – attention, inquiry, observation and use of self – all contribute to the listener’s understanding and to the speaker’s awareness. It argues that we all have a ‘learning edge’ as listeners and provides a framework that helps each of us find it.

The book is intended as a companion for anyone who commits to becoming a good listener. It shows how to develop expertise in the four modes of listening. It offers examples and principles to guide practice, questions for reflection, and a series of ‘workouts’ to help the listener develop their ability to listen. It encourages by showing how good listening is simple – you turn up, pay attention, and listen with all you have, and it challenges by identifying the work it takes to do that.


1. The Power of Great Listening

2. Getting Ready to Listen

3. The Four Modes of Great Listening

4. The Four Modes in Operation

5. Three Paths to Listening Mastery

6. Learning to Attend

7. Learning to Inquire

8. Learning to Observe

9. Learning to Resonate

10. Becoming and Being a Great Listener

About the author

Stephen Burt is the Director of Gibsonstarr Ltd, UK, specialising in the development of leaders. With over 30 years’ experience, he has learnt to listen as a senior leader, coach and facilitator, and, most recently, through playing jazz guitar and performing improvised comedy.