June 7, 2022
If you want to become a thriving master coach like Rich Litvin, this episode is for you! In this powerful conversation between Coach Ajit and renowned high-performance coach and co-author of The Prosperous Coach, Rich Litvin, he reveals what are...
If you want to become a thriving master coach like Rich Litvin, this episode is for you! In this powerful conversation between Coach Ajit and renowned high-performance coach and co-author of The Prosperous Coach, Rich Litvin, he reveals what are the elements and skills that have shaped his success as a coach.
One of these keys is Deep Listening and Rich dives deep into what deep listening is, how to hone this skill, and what are the elements that comprise it. Listen in on this insightful conversation to learn the most important skills and tools you need to level up your coaching ability and create massive shifts for your clients.
Coach Ajit (00:00):
You are listening to Master Coaching with Ajit podcast that inspires coaches to impact the lives of their clients more meaningfully. I am Coach Ajit and I'm known for coaching high performers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. I'm also a serial entrepreneur and author of many books. On this podcast, I am answering your burning questions. I'm also demonstrating and deconstructing behind-the-scenes coaching sessions.
And in this week's episode, I have a very special guest joining me. This individual is Rich Litvin. Rich is the author of The Prosperous Coach. And he's one of the first few trainers we ever brought on Evercoach. That's how good this guy is. When I wanted to start Evercoach, I wanted to get someone on board that was really, really good at coaching. And I think Rich is one of the top coaches in the world. And in this conversation, when we sat down and as you listen into this conversation, you'll realize that we really took a step back. He's a master of deep listening. He's a master of getting really present. He's a master of catching himself when he's coaching on different nuances that will make him a better coach. This is one of those fundamental conversations that will change the way you show up. As a coach, this conversation takes a deep dive into one of the keys to becoming really good at coaching. And that is deep listening. We talk about many different elements. That one must consider when they are trying to get better at listening really deeply. So without waiting any longer, I wanna introduce you to this powerful conversation I had with Rich. Hi, Rich.
Rich Litvin (01:53):
Hey, AJ. I always enjoy our conversations, cause we never know where we're gonna go in advance and we always go somewhere powerful.
Coach Ajit (01:58):
Yeah. It's always beautiful. And it's so easy to go anywhere with you because you're so amazing and so masterful at the skill of coaching. So I'm excited to talk about what we're gonna talk about. At least the topic that we've decided, and let's see where it goes, is deep listening. Let's start with just understanding what does deep listening even mean?
Rich Litvin (02:17):
Well, it dawns on me. There's an irony in talking about listening. So here's the insight I had about listening and I got it from my wife's 97-year-old grandmother because I asked her one day before she passed away, I said, what's one piece of wisdom you'd give to youngsters today? And she didn't hesitate for a moment. She said, I would tell them that listen has exactly the same letters as the word silent. And I had to do it in my head had, is, is that right? And we don't listen properly. Most of the time, these days, we listen for a moment while we're gathering our thoughts about what we're gonna say next. And while we're talking, the person we're talking to is doing exactly the same. So we never slowed down enough to get truly present, to listen to somebody which means that in this day and age, most people never feel truly heard. And at the heart of really powerful coaching is a sense that somebody hears me, cuz then I can relax. Then I feel that I've been listened to in a way that no one else has ever listened to me in my life. And I feel heard and I feel seen that's the power of listening deeply.
Coach Ajit (03:32):
That's beautiful. And I've never seen anyone describe it so easily, but so powerfully. I would love to dive a little bit deeper. You said that when we are listening, today's time, that's how we all grew up as well as we are always listening to say, Hey, what am I gonna say next? Right? And you kind of catch yourself. How are we as human beings to stop that? Or even to be able to be present to that? Or is that even a thing in the conversation of loud people's thing?
Rich Litvin (03:58):
Well, I'm catching myself in this very moment is really hard cuz I'm trying to stay present to what you're saying and also thinking about what will I say next? Cuz I'm being filmed right now. So what, what will I say? So I'll give you a really simple tool. You take the tip of your tongue and you press it to the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth. Now I'll make it easy for you actually stick out your tongue, and hold.
You can do this too. Stick out your tongue and hold your tongue. And as you do, when you hold it for a moment, you notice you begin to slow down and your thoughts begin to dissipate. You can let go now.
Coach Ajit (04:34):
Okay. Now I was just trying to deep listen, as you were telling about.
Rich Litvin (04:37):
But what happens while we're thinking our tongue is making the little micro movements in our head, cuz we're we're, as the words are coming, we're processing, it would look a bit silly to sit in front of a client, holding your tongue, which is why I said place the tip of your tongue just behind your teeth And breathe. And then you get a moment where the thoughts drift away and you're actually being truly present. So there's a way to get present. Let me tell you a story. A story about a woman journalist who went many years ago to have dinner with these two prime ministers. She had dinner with Gladstone and at the end of the dinner, she said, I felt like he was the most interesting person on the planet. And then I had dinner with Israeli a day later and he made me feel like I was the most interesting person on the planet. And Israeli was the person who won that election. The difference here is between being interesting and interested. Most of the time we are not really listening cuz we want to be founders. Interesting. And so we are thinking, well you are talking, I'm thinking of what story shall I tell next?
What clever thing can I say to impress you when I'm interested rather than interesting. I'm really curious about what are you saying and why are you saying it and what draws my interest about that? And I'll ask a question and that distinction between being interested and interesting is very powerful as a coach. You know, you are asking interesting questions, but they tend to start with the word I. I like what you just said, Ajit. I have the same experience. Let me tell you about mine. And then I ask a question afterwards, you skip all that and say, oh, I like what you just said. Tell me more. Now you're truly interested. You're listening.
Coach Ajit (06:29):
Beautiful. And I like the distinction of saying interesting and interested. And again, this is, I'm kind of like also inquiring and checking within to go. How is it that I show up in conversations? And sometimes I do lean into trying to be interesting again, to be maybe impressed the client or just be able to make my point more clear. And because it's my point. How as a coach, do you suggest, uh, a person to start that journey of going from trying to always respond? You gave one tool, which is brilliant to like kind of just put the tip of your tongue at the back of your teeth, but is there other ways to be able to enhance this presence or to be able to go from a place of saying, how do I catch myself more easily? So I can wild in the conversation can switch to the mode of deep listening. Because clearly like you already mentioned, once you are listening for, for depth, you're deep listening. You can be more powerful in your coaching conversations because it's about them now instead of about being about you, right?
Rich Litvin (07:32):
What you are speaking to in this moment is what I would call professional self-esteem. When you don't have high professional self-esteem you are not present because you're trying to impress the client. You wanna say the things that you think they need to hear instead of being willing to be quiet and listen. And it's hard sometimes at the beginning of a coaching journey because you don't have much professional self-esteem and so you are trying to impress. And one of the things that you simply have to do is be willing to be in the game long enough as you build your coaching chops. As you build your experience over time, you begin to relax and realize, oh, I don't need to impress them. In fact, the moment you are trying to impress them, you are putting yourself in a position that they're less likely to want to work with you when you can get present enough with them, that you don't care what they think of you.
The way I describe that is I care so much that I don't care. I care what you think of me, but I care more to be in service of you. So there's no quick fix for that one. It comes down to professional selfesteem. A willingness to facilitate a conversation that's so powerful. A willingness to look for the things that no one else can see. Listen for the things that no one else can hear and then say the things that no one else would dare to say. Now that can come over time. As you build your professional confidence, or it can come very early on if you're willing to take a risk. And one of the ways I would say that to get there is to practice calling yourself out. Hey, you know, I noticed when you were just talking, I got distracted and I was thinking about what I want to ask you next, instead of really listening to you.
Can you say that again? Or I noticed when you were talking just now that I wasn't even present with you, what do you make of that? What do you make of that is actually a very powerful talk. Cause basically if I, if I say I wasn't very present, it's like I'm saying I'm I was bored. Which means you are boring. now that can be powerful as a coach sometimes to say, Hey, what you just said, I was feeling bored. if you have the confidence to say that can trigger a really powerful conversation. but sometimes, Hey, when you were talking just now I noticed I got distracted and I was thinking about the movie I'm gonna see tonight. what do you make of that? It makes me your ally and we're putting that thing over here. Hey, that conversation had me get distracted. What do you make of that? much of the time when you do that as an ally shoulder to shoulder, put that thing. Here they go. Huh? You know what? I wasn't very interested either. I've told that story so many times, it's just a cool story to tell now. And that's a powerful tool. What do you make of that to get to what's really going on in that moment.
Coach Ajit (10:16):
There were so many masterful sessions and writing that masterful notes and pointers to take away in just the first bit that you said that professional self-esteem I think that's a great nugget to carry for new coaches or seasoned coaches to get a reminder of that. A, this is an ongoing journey. It's not, you don't get brilliant, like in the moment or anything like that, you keep working on the skill, and your professional self-esteem keeps going up and you keep furthering your journey from that. So that was beautiful that you presented right there to say, Hey, even if you watch this episode right now, it's not that after, after this episode, you are a deep listener and that's what's happening. Now you're gonna stop the practice of catching yourself. Like you mentioned, or placing the situation. If I may use that word to paraphrase you using the situation as the, as the third party and addressing what you make of it. So I think those were some beautiful nuggets right there.
Rich Litvin (11:08):
Let me speak to that. I wrote an article a few years ago called how to become an overnight success as a coach in 46 years, when I was in my twenties, I went to teach science in Botswana. I was there for two years in a little rural school. And my kids' English was their third language. They spoke said Tswana, the national language and Ikalanga was their own language. And I was teaching them their third language. I had to be so careful about the way I was talking because I'd come from London where we have double Decker buses. The kids I was teaching at the time had never seen a building with more than one story. I had to be careful in the way I was paying attention to what they were saying. This is 25 years ago. Now my listening skills were honed all that time ago.
We forget sometimes that our track record before we come into coaching is very powerful and important to us as a coach. Uh, I work these days with a lot of leaders, executives, CEOs, founders, who are tired, who are burnt out, come into coaching. Then they dismiss all their career before and think I'm, I'm a new coach. I've been coaching for a year, two years when actually they've been a leader for 20 years and I have to remind them of that. So part of your professional self esteem is remembering, bring it with you. You don't have to leave that behind the skills you had as a leader are very powerful in coaching.
Coach Ajit (12:38):
I remember a line you mentioned a few days ago while we were chatting. You said, if you wanna be a life goat, you have to have a life. And in context of what you just mentioned is all that life that you have lived. It's not to disregard us to bring together. That was beautifully put when, when we were having the conversation, I wanted to kind of acknowledge that. Yeah. As a piece now, going deeper into the conversation of listening. What is it that we are even listening for? Are we listening for something? Are we listening? That's great.
Rich Litvin (13:06):
Yeah, that's great. And so I wanna speak to you as you're you are listening and watching right now, much of the time when we're listening to a conversation, we are listening for agreement. Oh, I like what he said. Oh, I don't like what he said. That was interesting. I'm gonna make notes on that. Um, board. I've heard that dozen times before, listen for insight. Instead of listening for agreement, I'm not attached to what people like about what is saying and what they don't like. But if they're only listening for that, they're gonna miss things. Some people are gonna go, wow, he's fascinating. Others are gonna go, oh my God, he's boring. When you put all that to one side and listen to listen for insight versus agreement, you're gonna hear that one tiny thing that makes all the difference to you. So it's my invitation for you right now.
Let go of what you don't like. Let go of what you do, like watch and listen for that one moment that shifts everything for you. And then you're done. People tend to listen for information, not insight. So I have people at my intensives who are making tons of notes all the way through. That's okay if you process by writing notes, but I'm teaching most of the time teaching all the time, these days through insight and a single insight. So life is one way and then something happens and life is completely different. We've all had those moments in our lives. That's an insight moment. The way we hear it described is like Archimedes jumping out of the bath, screaming, Eureka, and then running down the street naked, cuz he has this insight. That's not how insight looks and sounds. Most of the time, insight is often very quiet when I'm coaching somebody and there's an insight moment.
They tend to go like this, huh? They tend to look up and very quietly they go, huh? There's been a shift. And they can't usually process it in that moment. It was like the curtains opened and a chin of light came through and they saw a new possibility. It's usually the moment I take someone off the hot seat, I say, okay, let's pause. Because much of my coaching can happen between the conversations when they allow their insight to sit. And I think coaches sometimes go too deep in that moment. Oh, they've had the insight. Let me keep going. Let's turn it into a 17-step plan. That's not always needed in that moment. An insight happens and your life changes. Sometimes you need time to sit with that.
Coach Ajit (15:45):
Hmm. That's a beautiful insight right there. And I went, huh?
Rich Litvin (15:51):
So let me catch it. Let me catch it. Because if you had an aha moment like Ajit did just then, then pause the recording. Like stop listening for a moment because otherwise then you've, you've missed it. We keep going and we go into like, well what's, what's he gonna say next? Where's the next one? And it's there in that motor. Huh? If you slow down enough, you catch it and you see, oh, oh, I see where that applies to my life. I see where I don't do that. And that's where everything can shift.
Coach Ajit (16:21):
Yeah. So while you unpause the recording, considering you must have paused. Let me ask just for, I, I get the idea, but just to make it more real for somebody and for me as well is could you describe an insight moment that happened while you were coaching someone or in your own life where you can go, that's how it panned out and that's what the space did for that person. So we could make this story and make it a memory also.
Rich Litvin (16:47):
So two stories, tell one for my own life and one for one of my clients. About 10 years ago, one of my coaches said, rich, you remind me of my little puppy. It runs around so fast around the house. But in my kitchen, we have this slippery tile floor and it gets into the kitchen and its legs are going like this and its, body's not moving. And I got it viscerally cuz I am always on. I am so driven. I'm always trying to make stuff happen so far. So quickly. There have been advantages to that in my life. But the moment he said it, I got it. My world shifted. He said, slow down to speed up. And it just hit me so powerfully. And I've sat with that as, as part of my business plan, as part of my life plan, as part of a mantra, I say to myself on a regular basis, slowed down to speed up.
And my son came back from, uh, school. The other day, he's seven. He said the teachers were talking to us about catch phrases. I said, what do you mean? He said, well, Nike has a catchphrase, just do it. And we learned other ones. And he said, I put my up and he said, my dad has a catch raise. I said, what'd you say? He said, I said, I told them slow down to speed up. I've never taught him that explicitly, but he's heard that enough from me cuz it made such a difference that one insight 10 years ago is still rippling out in my life today. I still miss it on a regular basis and I have to catch myself. Oh, I'm working too fast. I'm going too hard. Slow down to speed up.
Coach Ajit (18:12):
Rich Litvin (18:13):
The one from my client. So I had a client, who's got a background in aerospace. She was um, uh, in the air force, uh, before that. And she transitioned into coaching and I'm coaching around growing her business. And uh, she starts to make quite a lot of money quite quickly. As a coach, she's got a track record of success, working with great people.
And then we have a coaching session and she said, I don't know what to talk about today. Rich. My clients are very apologetic when they say that it's like, I'm supposed to show up with a problem because most coaching I believe is remedial. It's based around the premise. Come along with a problem. I help you solve your problem. There's nothing wrong with that. Coaching's great if you have a problem or an issue, but coaching built a business around that because if I solve your first problem, you'll come back with a second one and you come back with a third and I can keep making a lot of money by solving problems with you. It's just not how I choose to play. So when someone says, I kind of apologetically, I dunno what to talk about today. I say, oh great. Let's just have a conversation. Let's just have a chat. And we started to talk, what's going on in your life? What would you like to create? What are you up to? And at one point she said, a dream I would have would be something that looks impossible for me is could I create enough money to have my family's needs taken care of for the rest of their lives?
I said, that's a great question. Why didn't you sit with that? So for me, the power of deep coaching is to help my clients live into more powerful questions rather than trying to answer the questions they're bringing. I work with top performers. If anyone's gonna have an answer to the questions they had, it would be them. So it tells me they're not asking the right questions. So she left with this question. What if I could create enough money to have my family taken care of for the rest of their lives. She credits that one question with a few weeks later with three friends, co-founding an exponential technology company that has just had a billion dollar valuation. That's the power of being willing to listen to your clients so deeply that you can find the question that they haven't yet asked. Now I can't promise you get a billion dollar result out of that, but you will get really profound results from willing to listen that deeply.
Coach Ajit (20:30):
So I want to catch something there. It's beautiful. What you said in, in passing that often coaches tend to lean into problem solving mode or try to just go for next problem in the next problem. Whereas a tremendous amount of potential and tremendous amount of power lies in just experiencing and going, Hey, how do we go from here to an exponential, uh, growth or exponential success or exponential, whatever that is that the client really would desire if I may. And that is a great place to operate from it. It's a journey to get there, but it's definitely a great place. So I wanna acknowledge that. And thank you for sharing that story that also shows the power of, uh, a chat with a client. A chat, it wasn't problemsolving at all. It was more like saying, Hey, let's talk and a question...
Rich Litvin (21:16):
It breaks all the rules of the coaching schools that give, you know, you have to remember coaching schools are designed for beginner coaches. Riding a bicycle, you start with training wheels. You don't keep the training wheels on for the rest of your life. So it's the same as what you're taught in coaching school. It doesn't mean that it's not okay to break those rules later on. It's okay to do things that they said you shouldn't do once you're playing a different game. If you work with really high performers, it's not only okay, but it's something they crave to have you challenge the way that they think in a way that most people never do.
Coach Ajit (21:53):
So Rich, you have something that you call a deep coaching scorecard. Would you tell a little bit more about that?
Rich Litvin (22:00):
Yeah. For years, people asked me to break down and teach the way that I coach some of the ways that we're talking about right now. And I didn't want to enough people teaching coaching. I decided not to do that. And then I realized maybe there is something here. Let me have a look at it. And it's very, very hard to teach things that you have a level of unconscious competence at. It's like when you know how to drive a car with a stick shift, a geared car, and your niece says, teach me how to drive uncle. And you say, sure, it's easy. And how do, when do I change gears? And how do I do this? It's actually very hard. So I spent two years reflecting on looking at my own coaching and created a scorecard that you can use to assess yourself on what I call deep coaching.
There are five elements to it. And the first element is deep listening and everything we're talking about today, and deep listening itself has five different components. And the first one is presence. And I share this, I don't normally share actually, cuz it's a little edgy to share. I did a course around sensuality and sexuality and sex, uh, a long time back. And one of the things I learned is that much of the time when I was having sex, I wasn't really being present. I was thinking about what does she need? How can I turn her on? And, and my attention's out there and to have a really great intimate experience, actually I had to have some of my attention on the inside. What feels good to me? How am I feeling too much attention on here am either nervous or I'm not paying attention to her too much attention over there.
And we're not having a great experience either. And it's the same in coaching. It's the same in listening to be present. I have to have about 80% of my attention over there on you, but also a tension on here. So we are both laughing now because what you couldn't see and maybe they'll leave it in when they do the edit is that twice in a row, I decided to teach about how to get present. And each time there was an issue that came up with sound or lighting or something we had to cut. And so the irony of trying to get present when I keep getting taken out of presence, dawns on me. But that's what happens in coaching. I can teach you about how to get present and you are in it. And then something happens. The client says something that they're upset about and you feel triggered. The client says something that distracts you. A text message comes through your kid, tries to burst into the room when you're trying to coach and you get outta presence. So in a way I'm glad this happens almost like we planned it. Cuz now for the third time in a row, I have to get present. This is how I do it. I have to catch myself. And once again I realize, oh my breath is up here.
I have to breathe down deep into my belly. As long as putting my hand on my belly allows me to remember to get deep in my breath. And then I put my attention on the souls of my feet and you can do it with me because as you do, there comes a moment when you realize I can feel the sensations in the souls of my feet, I can feel the ground pressing up. I can feel a tingling sensation in my feet. I can feel that. Now if I, I can feel the chair pressing on the backs of my legs. I'm aware of the lower half of my body in this moment. And I wasn't a moment before do I keep breathing into my tummy? I keep some sensation, some attention on the sensation in the souls of my feet. But as I continue to breathe, I bring my attention to my fingertips and there comes a moment and you can do it with me. Keep keeping this exercise. When you feel the sensation in your hands or your fingertips right now, I can feel the back of my hands pressing on my pants. Now I'm gonna bring my attention to my heart.
Put a hand on it if it helps. But as I continue to breathe, there comes a moment. When I feel the beating of my heart. Now, if I let my attention expand outwards, it will come a moment when I can feel the awareness of my heart, the sensations in my hands and the sensations in my feet at the very same time. There's a name for that. It's called being alive. And most of us forget, cause our attention is out there. So we're not present in here.
There's real power in that. Now again, what you don't know is that four times we got interrupted in this. So it became an exercise in patience, as well as presence. And each time I had to bring myself back. But what we joked about is, well, what happens when does there come a moment when you get so frustrated? Cause something's interrupting that you get into anger. And my response to that was well, if you catch yourself in anger, you can still be present. I'm present to the fact that I'm frustrated and angry right now. I'm trying to coach you as my client. And three times a big airplane has flown past and on the phone call we are on or the wifi connection keeps going down and I'm really present to how frustrated I am. What's going on for you. And there you are back in conversation again,
Coach Ajit (27:17):
Beautiful, but you explained a beautiful process and it very well could be the process of anybody and everybody. But I almost feel like like as much as you explain like many steps to it is probably you just breathe and you now know that your body gets into it or it's still, you need to realize it takes you like a couple of minutes to get there.
Rich Litvin (27:35):
I know I broke it every slowly. Well it can take as long as it needs, you know, before this shoot, I started banging my body, banging my legs, to get energy back into my body. I was sitting down for 15 minutes with makeup being done and, and sound checks and so on. And I realized, oh, I'm not present. I started banging my body like this to bring energy back into me. You can get down and do some pushups to anything that brings energy back into your body. So it doesn't have to take as long as I took it. So I broke it down cuz we are breaking down how we do this thing called deep listening, but it can happen in an instant. I catch myself not being present and I don't have to say a word and I'm back to being more present than a moment before.
Coach Ajit (28:14):
Yeah. Let's, I wanted to capture that.
Rich Litvin (28:16):
Let me illustrate the opposite of presence. Ever had a moment when you're coaching phone call and they're speaking to you and you're actually checking email or you're on a video call with a client and you're surreptitiously checking your phone cuz a text message is just come through? That's the opposite of presence. And most of us know this cuz we're humans. And when we get distracted, the power of presence is noticing it and deciding when it's time to speak it. Okay. My phone vibrated in my pocket, I got drawn out for a second. Do I wanna pull out my phone and start looking at it or do I realize, huh? That little vibration reminded me. I'm not really listening right now when I come back to presence. So that's that's presence and that's the opposite of presence, when you're checking your email while they're actually talking to you.
Coach Ajit (29:06):
Would it ever happen that the client would get frustrated if you shared that experience that oh, I was distracted. Can you say that again? Or what do you make of that?
Rich Litvin (29:15):
Well, I think it depends on how you do it. The tool I gave you of what do you make of that turns you shoulder to shoulder them and makes you an ally. I've never had an experience now I'm being upset. Cause I'm speaking to what's true in that moment.
Coach Ajit (29:28):
You mentioned there are five elements to deep listening. We've talked about presence. What are the other elements?
Rich Litvin (29:36):
So the second element of deep listening is silence. And I've got a client who's invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his coaching with me over the years who sometimes jokes. I spent more money for you to say nothing to me, rich than I've ever spent anything else in my life, other than their house. Most people dunno how to be silent. And it's that willingness to really be silent and say nothing
And sit in the discomfort of the silence. So I've trained myself when a client pauses, I will literally press my tongue against the roof of my mouth and say nothing. And I'll sit there in the discomfort. If it feels uncomfortable for me, then I know I'm in the right place. And it's tempting for us as coaches to wanna fill that silence and say something or ask a clever question. But that willingness to sit, allows them to know what's going on. And sometimes they'll ask a question or they'll share something they've never shared before. So I practice that. It's my discipline. If I've been coaching somebody and they say, okay, thanks. Then they're doing what I call taking themselves off the hot seat. And if they do that, it tells me they need to be on there for longer. So hang on a second. Let's stay with us for a moment longer.
And I'll pause. And that in that silence, in that pause is where interesting things come. I can't tell you in advance what they'll be. I have no clue, but that willingness I have to be silent is where the interesting stuff comes. And this speaks to the distinction we talked about earlier interested versus interesting to be silent. You have to let go of trying to be interesting, trying to come up with the next clever question or the next thing to say, that would be profound. Your willingness to sit there with them and say nothing is where something magical will often occur.
Coach Ajit (31:28):
It's beautiful and very interesting and interest it, it shows the power just I'm, I'm kind of like being present to it right now and saying, Hmm. When was the moment where I let silence be in one of the conversations? Just because I knew there was a lot of discomfort there and there was space to be given and not just try to go past that conversation or, or continue the conversation. Have you found it to be a difficult? I don't know if art's the right word to say it, but it hasn't been difficult to be able to go. This is the moment to be silent in your practice or when you coach somebody to be able to do that.
Rich Litvin (32:13):
So I'm actually practicing it right now. And it's uncomfortable. Did you notice that Ajit finished his question and I held his gaze for a moment? Didn't say anything. And then he added a few words cuz even in that moment now we weren't coaching. So, but in that moment of that willingness, yeah, it feels really uncomfortable. It felt more uncomfortable. Cause I know I'm on camera. I do it on stage that willingness to hold silence is where interesting stuff can occur and it's a practice. It really is a practice and a discipline. Yeah. Did you feel it on that side? Cause you..
Coach Ajit (32:47):
Yeah, yeah, no, I, I did. I, I thought that's what was happening, but I wasn't sure. So I kind of like leaned into it more. Yeah. So,
Rich Litvin (32:53):
Coach Ajit (32:54):
But I could feel the discomfort as you stayed after that because like, oh, okay. I see what you mean. Yeah, yeah,
Rich Litvin (32:59):
Yeah. And that was artificial. Cause we, we were in this filming situation, but if I was coaching you'd then opening up and opening up at willingness for me to say nothing or just Uhhuh those little sound noises that know that they're feel they're being heard. They'll go into something else. Sometimes I won't, I won't make eye contact actually. Sometimes I look away Uhhuh and that's really edgy for me. I'm looking down here giving them space. Cause sometimes if I'm looking at them, it feels a bit unnatural. Someone just looking at you in silence. So I I'll have different practices. One of the amusing things that's happened to me over the years, coaching a lot over the phone is once in a while, uh, the, the line will drop and because people know I coach this way, they'll be silent. So they're waiting on their end of the line thinking he's just being silent, waiting for me. I'm on my end thinking I'm being patient waiting for them.
Coach Ajit (33:53):
Oh wow. A question just for more. Why do you think that silence plays that role for our clients? Have you kind of went, this is what's happening in the mind of a client or this is what's happening for them. I understand we are giving them space to be able to process, but is there something more to it than that?
Rich Litvin (34:13):
I spoke to this at the start of our conversation. Actually I think it comes back to this most of us throughout much of our life, if not, most of our life are never truly heard. We're rarely in a conversation where someone is so interested in us, they are listening to us just to listen. And it feels so profound to be heard, to know that we are seen to have someone be with us. Being with is a really powerful tool. I'm here to be with you not to do anything, not to make anything happen just to be with you out of that. Something might arise. We might turn it into a doing action. But that sense of being with most of us don't ever experience it, it feels really intimate. And it's very edgy. Most of us confuse intimacy with sex and sexuality because that's really the only time we have that sense of intimacy intimacy is, you know, the old phrase, you know, intimacy can be broken into the its element parts into me.
You see intimacy. So when I'm that intimate with you, it feels really powerful. And then we might have a chance for an insight into something that you might see for yourself. I don't just say a word. I coached somebody on stage once. Uh, I ran an event for coaches about building their coaching practice and he asked a question and he wanted to have a billionaire as his client. And he knew this billionaire. So I said, tell me more. And he told me some more of the story. And I said, and he carried on speaking. I said, ah, and he carried on speaking I'm on the stage at the front. All I'm saying is, mmhmm. And he said a few more things each time I said, ah, Hmm, about, mm, about the fifth or sixth time he went, oh, I've got it. I know exactly what to do. I'll do this. And I went like that and the audience applauded and he sat down and this woman at the front and loud voice went, but he didn't do anything. She said with a sense of frustration. Well, yes and no, I didn't do anything if you mean, I didn't ask any powerful questions. I didn't use any special coaching tools. I didn't get any systems out for him to use. But what I did was listen to him silently until he had the insight.
You can give your clients great insights. If you are sharp, if you're bright, if you're a powerful coach, you can have all sorts of insights and ideas. The most powerful insight is the one that you have yourself. He had the insight and he got that billionaire as a client. So we talked about two elements of deep listening right now. What's the third element, all of these underpin each other. So the third one is safety, creating enough safety so that they know they can trust you. Then they will open up. So, so this one's a little bit more ethereal, but I think knowing that I'm loving the person I'm with allows 'em to trust me. I don't have to say anything about that. It's just a state of mind. It's a state of being it's. It's just me appreciating them. So there's a phrase I use.
Sometimes it describes the kind of high performance I work with. I have this line, it's not my marketing. It's just internally. I say I coach Kings. I coach Kings speaks to me, the kind of extraordinary clients. I work with men as well as women. It's just a nice little phrase, but it doesn't mean that I'm looking for where is there, someone who's a king so I could ignore everybody else. It means when I'm with you, whoever you are, I'm looking for, where are you? A king? Where are you more powerful than, you know? And I'm looking for that. And I'm drawing that out. And I think that brings a sense of trust from people that they know. I see them, they know that I'm, I'm not filtering them out. I'm filtering them in. I'm looking for where are you extraordinary? And then I'm reminding you of that. And that's my way of building trust. I jump into quickly and too early with my solutions and my ideas. They don't trust me. They don't feel listened to yet. So the opposite of safety is jumping in too quickly with my ideas, trying to coach them, trying to impress them. I create safety when I'm less interested in trying to impress them than looking for where do they impress me?
Coach Ajit (38:46):
Mm. Is it unconsciously? We are, we are giving them the power and hence they feel safe.
Rich Litvin (38:53):
That's a great way to describe it. Yeah. Um, one of the ways I look at it is stop looking for clients who you can inspire and look for clients who inspire you. That's a mindset by which I have I'm filtering for my client. So whoever you are when I'm sitting with you, I'm looking for, how do you inspire me? Where do you inspire me? And I acknowledge people for that. And that really has them feel safe.
Coach Ajit (39:19):
Beautiful. So we, we are through the first three elements of, of deep listing. What's the fourth element.
Rich Litvin (39:28):
The fourth element is curiosity. And it's a willingness to ask interested questions to be truly interested in the person in front of you rather than trying to be interesting.
I think I'd add in humor with that to humor and curiosity, humor and curiosity work really well. If you're dating, they work really well in relationship and they work really well in coaching being genuinely curious about the person in front of you. And sometimes coaches are too up in their head with the latest tool they're gonna use or the technique they're gonna have. They're not really being curious. My, my favorite story about this comes from Michael Neill. He tells a story of a man who goes to see a coach and the coach says, well, tell me more about you. He says, I'm a carpenter and I wanna grow my business. Great says the coach let's jump in. I can help you. You need a PR person. You need a social media strategy. Let me help you with your LinkedIn profile. Uh, I've got a 17 step plan. I'm gonna take you through. And they work for an hour and the client seems excited and the client gets up to leave at the end, says, thank you. This has been amazing. You helped me grow my business. And the coach goes, oh, you know, I realize, I forgot to ask your name. What's your name? And the client looks back and says, oh my name's Jesus.
We're not being present to the people we're with cuz we're not being curious. We've got our stuff. We want to show them and impress them. And we are missing we're coaching the carpenter instead of the person who can change the planet.
Coach Ajit (40:52):
That's a beautiful story. I remember that story Michael telling me. So these are the first four elements. What's the last element that you talk about?
Rich Litvin (41:00):
The last element I call provocation. It's a willingness to ask provocative questions or obvious questions. It's a willingness to be the most stupid person in the room. There's a great book called rookie smarts. And in that book, the author talks about the power of being a rookie, being a newcomer to any field. The problem with that, some of the most successful people and talented people that I work with that they have is that the way they've done has worked for them for so long that they can't see another way, my willingness to not try and impress them, to provoke them, to challenge them, to ask questions that would seem obvious to ask, allows possibilities that they can't see from where they are right now. Um, there's a great book called getting naked by Patrick Lei. And it's a book for consultants, but it works really well for us as coaches about how to get past the fears that hold us back from really taking our clients to the next level. And so that willingness to ask the questions that will challenge that person takes you from the realm of the average coach, to the realm of being an extraordinary coach.
Coach Ajit (42:10):
Mm. What forms a provocative question?
Rich Litvin (42:15):
A question I'm afraid to ask will be a clue that it's gonna be provocative. A question that I think they'd be afraid to hear could be a provocative question. Um, this isn't so much a provocative question, but it's a hot button that I'll use sometimes to provoke. If I'm coaching someone, who's a parent, I have this secret hot button. I know that at some point I can say, what would your child think of that decision behavior? If they were able to look at it right now or how, or if your child grew up and modeled how you are being right now, how would that feel for you?
Coach Ajit (42:56):
That's that's beautiful. And, and, and thank you for sharing the five elements of deep listening. I know there are more elements to deep coaching. Would you like to like quickly touch upon what are the other four elements beyond deep listening? Just like a quick introduction to them or something.
Rich Litvin (43:09):
Yeah. Yeah. What you're speaking to is the deep coaching scorecard I put together with these five elements. We've broken down listening right now. Um, what comes behind that is eliciting. Listening is drawing out from your clients. The things that they would never normally say, then comes 10X, a willingness to create a world that's really extraordinary for your client. Have them dream bigger than they've ever dreamed. Then comes leadership. If you wanna be a powerful coach, you have to be willing to lead, willing to lead sometimes means knowing when to follow too, there's a paradox in there. And finally strategy. There are times when it's okay to get into strategy and create that it comes last for me deliberately too many coaches go straight to that. And I think to be an extraordinary coach, you can put that into your arsenal, but it doesn't necessarily come first. So there's deep listening. There's eliciting, there's 10X leadership and strategy.
Coach Ajit (44:03):
Thank you very much for sharing all of that. I know you wanna save this conversation and you wanna relisten to it every single time I re-listen to our conversation, I get more insights and I am certain it's gonna be the same for you. So if you enjoyed this conversation, go ahead and give us a five star review on whichever platform you're listening this podcast on. If you have not yet followed this podcast, I would really invite you to hit that button on whichever platform you're listening to this podcast because we are bringing so many more powerful conversations that will change your coaching career for good. And with that, I wanna thank you for tuning in today. This is Coach Ajit and you're listening to Master Coaching with Ajit.