Much work has been done on the ideas of Frank Luntz and his book Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.

Absolutely. Positively. Spot On

BUT, too little ink has been spilled on the related topic: It’s not what you say; it’s what you can HEAR.

The magic of coaching lies in being able to see the world through the eyes of your clients, and by doing so, seeing where their views and cognitive frameworks limit them, where they blind them to opportunities and force them to act in ways that keep them from having what they want.

Even when a coach has great ideas, processes, and frameworks to share and which make a difference, NOTHING makes a bigger difference than freeing someone from a view of life that limits them.

Here is the major issue that we need to consider. For each of us, our views of life are NOT “views of life.” We don’t walk around fascinated by our “views of life.” Rather, our views of life are, for us, THE WAY LIFE IS. We don’t get that we are looking at life (or some issue in life) through some view.

Therefore, guiding someone to the kind of freedom that ensues from going beyond a limiting view is HUGE, and guiding someone to that is a function of what you can HEAR, not what you can say and get heard.

But how do you see someone else’s view of life? We coaches need to develop our prowess at hearing what’s behind people’s words and actions—what drives them.

At @Impact Speaking Lab, we focus on 3 fundamental principles and skillsets:


  • Being SUAVE© (the Science Underlying Altering Views for Everyone): developing yourself inside of a fundamental principle of human behavior that people do not and cannot act on what they know, understand, claim to believe, or value. People can ONLY act on how they view whatever it is they are dealing with. In fact, people MUST act consistent with the way they view whatever they are dealing with. So, to make any kind of impact, you first must ascertain how people view themselves, others, and the situations at hand.


  • Active Listening: hearing the 3 critical levels of every communication and appropriately reflecting those back:
    • Level 1: The words people say
    • Leve 2: The experience and emotions that they’re having
    • Level 3: The commitments and concerns that are being expressed through whatever it is they are saying


  • Making the Subjective, Objective: having conversations that allow others to see the views of life that they have been looking THROUGH so that those views can now be something they are looking AT.

When you become competent with these 3 skills, what you can HEAR elevates dramatically. And what you HEAR is the access to freeing someone from what is in their way of having what they want. It is gold.

Here’s my invitation for all of us, trainers, coaches, or anyone with a commitment to making a difference for others: spend a day focusing on what you can HEAR. Spend your day focused on seeing the world through others’ eyes.

See if you can discover a new depth to your ability to impact others through HEARING, not speaking.

I’d love to hear what insights you have or any discoveries you make. Please share in the comments.