A lot of what I'm sharing today, and honestly, a good deal of what I'll be sharing throughout this series on The Art of Coaching, are topics that I explore in much greater depth inside the Certified Clarity Coach Program. And I am thrilled to announce that we are currently accepting applications for the next certification program cohort. The Certified Clarity Coach Program is a four month program and it is accredited by the International Coaching Federation as a level one program. This means that when you successfully graduate from the Certified Clarity Coach Program, you will have all of the training requirements for the first level of credentialing with ICF, the Associate Certified Coach. The Certified Clarity Coach Program is structured so that we explore three modules during our four months together. The first module is all about coaching fundamentals. We cover exactly what it takes to be a powerful coach, and you'll learn how to structure an overall coaching relationship, how to structure each individual session so that your client is making consistent gains every time you meet. We'll look at decision making frameworks, how to build rapport, all of the things that need to be in place in order to ensure a positive coaching experience for both coach and client. So that's module one and once we wrap that up, we move into the second module, which focuses on an ACT approach to coaching. Now, many of you know my background as a therapist and my training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is very much a part of my coaching work. And so I've taken the core principles of ACT and I have modified them for use in a coaching relationship. So we'll spend four weeks doing a deep dive into the main pillars of ACT, or what I call the three M's, Meaning, Mindset, and Mindfulness, and we'll look at how the three M's can support you as a coach and help your client achieve lasting change more efficiently. So module one and module two are all about the skills that a powerful coach needs to master. In module three, we then explore the business side of coaching because many of us who are coaches, we run our own businesses, and so we need to make sure that we've got strong business foundations in place, and that is what we focus on in module three.
So when you end the Certified Clarity Coach program, you will receive the designation of Certified Clarity Coach. You'll have received over 60 hours of training, instruction, practice, and mentor coaching, and you will have fulfilled the training and mentorship requirements for the Associate Certified Coach Credential through ICF. So if you are ready to deepen your power as a coach and you may be interested in ICF credentialing, then the Certified Clarity Coach program is the right fit for you. We are getting started on May 31st, and there are only 15 spots available inside this next cohort. So if you are interested in participating, if you want one of those 15 slots, then I want you to go to coachwithclarity.com/certification. That's where you can learn all about what the program includes and where you can submit your application. And here's a special bonus that I am just announcing for the first time. When you enroll and submit your deposit before April 30th, you will also receive a VIP day of Voxer coaching with me that you can use at any time in the next 18 months.
I absolutely love using Voxer as a tool for coaching, and VIP Voxer days are incredible because essentially you and I are speaking to each other throughout the day, and I am right there to answer any questions you have, to discuss strategy for your coaching practice, to review any cases that you may want consultation on. We can structure this VIP Voxer day of coaching in whatever way will best serve you, and there's no rush for you to redeem it. If you want to hold onto it in your back pocket for a while until there's a time where you want my support, perhaps on creating a coaching offer or planning a launch, then you've got that VIP Voxer day of coaching right there waiting for you. So again, you will receive that in addition to all of the benefits that come with the Certified Clarity Coach Program when you enroll and submit your deposit by April 30th. So just head to coachwithclarity.com/certification to learn more about the program and to apply.
After you submit that application, I will reach out to schedule a time for us to chat via Zoom, where you can ask any questions you have about the program, and together we can ensure that this is the right program at the right time for you. So again, head to coachwithclarity.com/certification to learn more and apply now.
So now let's talk more about listening and why it is such an important component of being a powerful coach. In fact, it's so important that ICF has pulled it out as one of its specific core competencies that we measure in our coaching programs and that we encourage all coaches to master. So ICF defines listening actively as focusing on what the client is and is not saying, to fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client's systems, and to support the client in their self expression. So in order to help the client really tap into who they are and what they want and their next steps, we as coaches first need to make sure we have a full understanding of our client's situation. And that comes through actively listening when our clients are speaking to us. So there's all sorts of things that we need to consider as part of active listening. ICF would suggest that we need to consider the client's context and their identity, their experiences and values, their beliefs, and also their environment, because all of this enhances our understanding of what the client is actually communicating. So there's a lot that we need to take in here besides simply the words that the client is saying. Active listening also requires us to signal back to the client that we are here, we are engaged, and we are understanding them. So we might do that through reflecting or summarizing what they've shared in order to ensure that we understand and that we're clear. It also asks us to recognize and follow up when the client may actually mean more than what they're communicating. This is often when being aware of nonverbal cues can be particularly helpful, or when we're listening to the tone of what is being said, not just the content. So when we notice that perhaps the client is saying one thing but something else suggests that there may be a deeper meaning, we're recognizing that, and we're following up on it. That is a part of active listening. We're paying close attention to the client's emotions, to the shifts in energy, to their nonverbal cues and other behaviors, because that is just as important as the words that they are actually saying. And all of that informs our understanding of the client's situations.
As we are listening and reflecting, we want to make sure that we're integrating the client's word choice. We're noticing their tone of voice and their body language. We're taking all of this into account to determine the full meaning of what the client is sharing with us. And we're not just doing this in a vacuum. It's not like we just listen to one thing and then we forget about it. In fact, as the coach, part of our role is to notice the connections between what the client has shared over time. We want to be paying attention to any trends in our clients behaviors and emotions across sessions that will help us uncover any patterns or habits or themes that we may want to explore further with our client. So all of that is very clearly delineated in the ICF coaching core competency around active listening. And I think that there are some other listening frameworks that we can reference that will help us incorporate these active listening skills into our practice and will set us up to go even deeper with next level listening.
One framework that is commonly referenced when we are talking about active listening is Stephen Covey's Five Levels of Listening. And I think this is a really good start. Again, we're going to go even deeper, we're going to take this to the next level. But before we jump there, let's take a look at Covey's five levels and see what they have to offer us and how they connect with the ICF core competency of active listening. So Stephen Covey developed this Five Levels of Listening approach, and he's very clear that levels one through four are very much centered on the listener's experience. It's not until we get to the fifth and what is his final level that we really start engaging in a way where it's about the person speaking as well as the person listening.
So the very first level that Covey talks about is ignoring, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Even though the person in front of you may be speaking, you are not paying attention whatsoever. You are ignoring content, tone, body language. You're checked out. I will readily admit, and I'm not proud of this, but there are certainly times when I have been practicing this first level of listening: ignoring, and it typically happens when I am with my family and I am on my phone or otherwise distracted. So they might be speaking to me and I'm not even aware that they're speaking to me, much less what the content is of what they're sharing. So I think it's important to recognize that no matter how skilled we are as a coach, we do have the capacity to dip down into these lower levels, especially when we're tired or when we're distracted. So level one is ignoring, definitely something we should avoid when engaging with our clients. And I would say we should probably avoid the second level of listening as well, which is pretending. This is when we are giving cues that we are paying attention, but we're not really listening to anything that the speaker is saying, content or otherwise. I have been guilty of this as well. Often when I am on my phone I may give cues like saying “Mmhm,” or nodding my head or even making brief eye contact before returning my eyes to my phone. And again, I'm giving signals that I'm listening but truly, if you were to ask me specifics about what was said or anything related to the intention or the purpose behind it, I probably wouldn't be able to give you much detail. So ignoring and pretending are levels one and two. And at both of those levels we are really not paying attention to anything that the speaker is sharing.
Once we move to level three, now we are starting to pay attention, but still not full attention. Level three is selective listening. So this is where we're listening for pieces and parts of what the speaker is saying, but we're not listening in order to understand or to serve the person in front of us. Really, we are listening to serve our own agenda. So we're only listening for pieces and parts that we feel are relevant. We may interrupt and finish someone else's statement in order to get through it quickly. So while we are listening to parts of the content, we're doing so for our own purposes and our own agenda. And the focus is not on creating or establishing any sort of connection or relationship with the speaker, it's simply to get the information we need to serve our own purposes. So that's level three, that's the selective level of listening. Again, a level that is not particularly useful or helpful in a coaching session.
When we move into the fourth level of listening, what Covey calls attentive listening, this is when we are listening carefully to the other person and so we're taking in the content, but while they're speaking, we are actively processing and deciding whether we agree or disagree with them. We're trying to figure out if we think they're right or wrong. And so rather than paying full attention to what they're saying, we're actually developing our own response to them in our heads while they're still talking. So we're only partially connected and again, we're very interested in our agenda so that we can speak our own minds. So even though with attentive listening we are more engaged and we are really listening to the client more than selective or pretending or certainly ignoring, we're still doing so to serve our own agenda. We are still centering ourselves in the process rather than centering the client.
It's not until we move into Covey's fifth and final level of listening where we really place our full attention on the person in front of us. Covey calls this fifth level of listening empathic listening or empathetic listening. We are really putting ourselves in the position of the person who's speaking. We are actively trying to understand not just what they're saying or experiencing, but how they're feeling. We're really trying to see things through the eyes of the speaker. And to do so, that requires us to listen on many levels. Yes, we're listening to content, what is being said, but this is really where we're paying close attention to tone, to nonverbals, and all of the other ways that people communicate their thoughts, their feelings and their intentions. So when we are perceptive and picking up on all of that, we can use that data to engage with the other person from a place of seeking to understand, of wanting to empathize, and of wanting to really get into their world. So that's the fifth level of listening. According to Stephen Covey, it is arguably the most difficult level to get to and to sustain. And yet it is vitally important that as coaches, we are practicing empathic listening with our clients because that is how we build trust, we build rapport, we develop that connection with them. And empathic listening is a key part of embodying that coaching presence that we talked about last week.
So I really appreciate both the way ICF has defined active listening in their competencies and how Stephen Covey has broken listening into five different levels. However, I think there are some aspects to the listening experience that neither ICF nor Stephen Covey really goes into. And I want to break those down for you today and explore why they are particularly important to the coaching process. Everything we've discussed so far today around listening has dealt with the interpersonal relationship, meaning the relationship between at least two people, the speaker and the listener. I would say, though, that listening also involves exploring the intrapersonal relationship or the relationship we have internally with ourselves. Because as we are listening to the person in front of us, we're also trying to process and make sense of what they're saying. And we're doing so through our own lens of understanding the world and human behavior. So while we are listening to the other person, we're also listening and paying attention to our own responses. And we're not doing so in a way to center our own agenda. That's what differentiates this from attentive listening. We are paying attention to our own responses in order to better serve the client or the speaker in front of us.
So if we notice that we have a visceral reaction to something they've shared, we're taking note of it and we're following up on it in a way that will benefit the client. This happens to me quite a bit in session with my own clients. The best way I can describe it is I will be sitting, listening, taking in what my client is saying, and then they will say something. And it's almost like those words have been bolded. There's something about what they've just shared that really stands out to me. It's almost as if someone took a big bright yellow highlighter and just ran it across whatever words my client just said. I have that type of reaction to it. And so while my client is sharing that, I'm keyed into the fact that what they've shared is really important. And I'm noticing in my own body the signals that are telling me “Pay attention to this.” Oftentimes I will get a gut sense that whatever they've just said is incredibly important, it's crucial to whatever it is we're working through together in coaching. In addition to that gut sense, it really does feel like the word or the phrase that they've said is emphasized in bold. In my mind, I can almost see the words in front of me and then sometimes I just get this I can't even describe it. It's almost like a tingly sensation that just says this matters, follow up on this. And so while all of this is happening, I'm still engaged with my client and listening to them, but I'm also listening to my body's own cues. I'm balancing the interpersonal listening with the intrapersonal listening.
And again, all of this is to benefit the speaker in front of me. So the motivation behind listening is incredibly important here because this is what distinguishes attentive listening that fourth level that Stephen Covey talks about from this deeper next level listening that I'm describing. This level of listening is still focused on the other, even as we are paying attention to our own internal cues. And this is very much in alignment with one of the core pillars of the Coach with Clarity framework, which is intentional use of self. And we've talked about this in episodes past that I believe that the best tool a coach has at their disposal is themselves. You really are your best tool. And so when we're able to mindfully use our experiences, our sensations, our intuition, our wisdom to benefit the client, that is an example of intentional use of self. And so this type of next level listening is very much about intentional use of self. And we're noticing and reflecting on our own thoughts, feelings and sensations as a marker of what the client is sharing and what might be especially important and relevant for them. Oftentimes when we pay attention to those cues, we may notice something in what the client has shared that they themselves have not recognized yet. So it may be the message underneath the message that we're tuning into. So the client may be talking about one thing and we're making connections and seeing it in an entirely different way because we're listening to both their content and our responses. And so as a masterful coach, we understand how to create space for all of this, how to balance the interpersonal with the intrapersonal while always maintaining our focus on the client and making them feel like the center of the conversation. I think we could describe this next level of listening as intuitive listening, perhaps where we are noticing how our intuition is coming up and providing information that goes hand in hand with the client is saying and I know for me it's both intuitive and somatic.
The more that I have developed my skill as a coach, the more I've learned about a somatic approach to coaching and why being in touch with our bodies and the way our bodies process information is so important. And so for me, when I can marry my intuition with my somatic responses, I'm able to listen at an even deeper level than what Stephen Covey describes in his five levels, and arguably maybe even deeper than mere intuitive listening. I think when we blend the intuition with the somatic side, we are able to tap into our deepest wisdom, which will then in turn benefit the client when we understand how and when to share that wisdom with them. That is something we are going to be talking about in future episodes of this Art of Coaching series. Because one thing I notice with a lot of gifted clients, especially those who are highly intuitive, is they often will make connections between ideas and concepts that the client has shared before the client themselves have made those connections. And when we do that, we run the risk of leapfrogging our client, of getting to an AHA moment or an end result before they do. And we want to be very careful when that happens. We need to first realize it's happening as it's happening and then make very careful decisions about how to move forward in session so that we are allowing these intuitive leaps to inform our practice without robbing our client of the experience of creating their own epiphany.
So that's something we're going to be talking about in future episodes for sure. Which is why I wanted to spend some time today talking about next level listening because that really is the prerequisite to connecting with our clients in an intuitive manner. So we've covered quite a bit today. We looked at what active listening is, we examined ICF’s definition and what they include in their core competency around active listening. We looked at Stephen Covey's framework of the Five Levels of Listening, and we looked at them through the lens of interpersonal connection, noting that really it's, that fifth level of listening, the empathic level, where we want to begin when we're connecting with our clients because that really is centered on them, whereas the other four levels is very much centered on the listener. And then we took Stephen Covey's Five Levels of Listening and went even deeper. We looked at how we could take it to the next level by incorporating more of an intuitive and somatically based approach to listening.
This represents more of an intrapersonal approach to listening and why we as coaches need to be comfortable with both. Part of becoming a masterful coach is understanding how to practice both interpersonal and intrapersonal listening at the same time. How we can hold space for all of the different ways we are receiving information about our client, whether it's through the content of what they're sharing, the tone, the body language, and also our own intuitive and somatic responses to what they're sharing as well. When we create space for the intrapersonal to show up and enhance the interpersonal, to me, that is next level listening, and that is at the heart of being a Masterful Coach. This is exactly what we explore and practice inside the Certified Clarity Coach Program, and you will have ample opportunity to practice this through peer coaching, mentor coaching, and also in our practicum sessions within our live weekly calls. So to learn more about the Certified Clarity Coach Program, head to coachwithclarity.com/certification. And be sure to submit your application soon, because, again, when you commit to the cohort and submit your deposit by April 30th, you will receive a bonus Voxer day of coaching with me that you can redeem at any point within the next 18 months. It's a pretty generous bonus, and it's designed to help you feel comfortable taking the next steps in your coaching practice, knowing that I'm right there in your corner, supporting you every step of the way.
I hope you will join me next week as we continue our deep dive into The Art of Coaching. And to make sure you don't miss an episode in this series, be sure you have subscribed to the Coach with Clarity Podcast. It is absolutely free to subscribe to the show or depending on what platform you're using, it may look like following the show, but wherever you are, there should be an option to follow or subscribe. Maybe there's a little plus sign; go ahead and hit that, and then you can rest assured that the next new episode of the Coach With Clarity Podcast will show up in your feed.
And one more thing, if you're enjoying this series, if you're finding benefit from going over these coaching fundamentals and you know some other coaches that might enjoy it too, can I ask you to share this podcast with them? This is really the best way we can grow our community of ethical, intuitive coaches. And so if you would kindly pass along this episode to a friend or colleague that you think would find benefit from it, I would really appreciate it. Thank you so much in advance, and thank you for joining me this week on the Coach with Clarity Podcast. I can't wait to connect with you next week, and until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.