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When a version of this question popped up on one of my social media feeds this week it struck me as really highlighting the value of coaching – a process that’s primarily about listening.

Of course there are times when advice from someone with expert knowledge is needed to steer us, but often what we really need is space to unpack our thoughts without someone jumping in to solve things for us.

Coaching takes the view that we have the ability to overcome challenges and starts with attentive listening and selective reflection. As we hear our words repeated back to us, we start to notice unconscious connections and contradictions, and thought cycles that take us into autopilot can be slowed and challenged.

There are no right answers – especially in creative work – and my role as a coach is to help my clients centre themselves within the multiple stands of their life and work so they can be more closely aligned with their core needs and values.

As people verbalise their own thinking without interruption, ideas are given space to form. Rather than evaporating in the back and forth of everyday conversation; or being snuffed out by well-meaning suggestions, words that are allowed to settle can lead us to our core thinking and from there each of us can find our own way.

So next time someone shares a difficulty – maybe the most helpful thing is to ask if they’d rather be helped or heard?