In order to become successful, it takes a determination to work hard and learn a lot of skills. One of the most important parts of becoming a successful personal trainer is the ability to listen. Yes, there are all kinds of steps that require technical skill building. You need to use your ACE study guide to get a good score on your ACE exam and become certified. You also need to have the knowledge and skill necessary to help your clients reach their fitness goals; however, those skills, and even some of the most important ones, do not rely on the technical aspects of exercise and movement.
Learning how to build relational capital with your clients, learning who they are, and finding out what they truly need is one of the most important skills you can build as a trainer. At the heart of this skill, is the discipline of listening. Learning how to listen to your clients is the foundation from which you will be able to build out your plans to help them succeed. Active listening is a discipline that can take your interpersonal skills to a whole new level and help you gain rich insight into your client’s needs.
If you have been wondering how to improve your active listening as a new personal trainer, here are three things you need to know.
2. Know the Difference Between Passive Listening and Active Listening
So what is active listening and why is it so important?
This is the best place to start. If you don’t understand what active listening is, or how it’s unique, then it will be hard to build on this skill. The truth is, active listening is actually a very engaging activity that takes a lot of practice and time to learn how to do well. It’s a real skill that will require commitment and dedication to master, and it’s one that you will be able to notice appreciable growth in.
In general, when it comes to listening there are two major types, active and passive. Passive listening is very different from simply not listening or ignoring someone. With passive listening, a person is still taking in a lot of information. When a person is practicing passive listening, it does not indicate ‘less’ attention. A passive listener might actually be expending a lot of energy trying to pay close attention to details. What makes a passive listener passive, is their interaction with the sender of the message.
In communication, there is always a sender and a receiver. With passive listening, the receiver is simply doing just that – receiving and nothing else. Now, this can quickly lead to apathy, as it’s very possible to passively listen to someone in a very lazy way. Passive listening can be something that is done with a lot of attention to detail, or very little.
In active listening, the receiver is not only receiving the information – but is actively affirming the sender. This looks like a person who is listening intently to the details of a conversation, and is asking probing questions, or repeating information to ensure accuracy of understanding. This way the receiver is constantly being affirmed that the correct message is being sent.
2. Affirm More Than Add
A practical skill to help you become a better active listener is to focus on affirming, more than adding. Affirming a sender can look like a lot of different things. It can look positive, such as making sounds, gestures, or using words of agreeance that lets the sender know you are tracking. It can also look like requesting the information to be repeated, and then repeating the information back to ensure the accuracy of the message.
One powerful way you can affirm your clients as they talk to you is to ask questions that clarify their statements. This will force you to really listen and pay attention to what your client is saying in order to rephrase it as a question.
3. Never Interrupt
This is a hard skill to learn, but even if your client expells a lot of information try your best to not speak until they are done. This can get tricky because sometimes they can say a lot of things all at once and it can be hard to keep track of it all. It’s better to ask them to help you deconstruct and backtrack, after the fact, than to interpret them while they are sharing. Interruptions can cause the client to feel insecure, or like they have done something wrong.
By letting your client speak until they are finished, you are affirming their value, and helping build their confidence to talk about issues they need your help with.
Active listening is a skill that takes time, patience, and determination to learn. It’s also a skill that can set you apart from the competition and help make your career as a personal trainer be successful.