“There’s a reason that God gave us two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. It’s so you can listen and watch twice as much as you talk.”

A quote attributed to former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and one that is very important to consider – particularly when it comes to mentoring and supporting the development of others.

Listening may sound simple, but when someone is talking to you are you really listening, or just waiting to speak?

Sometimes we also hear through filters – what you hear is not always what is being said.

So, in your role as a mentor, when you are questioning your mentee and processing what they are saying, you may possibly uses those filters – perhaps based on your past experiences – to take a view of what you are being told.

For example, if someone says asks your opinion on whether they should go for an afternoon walking their dog or try kite surfing for the first time, if you don’t like dogs due to a bad experience with one previously, you might advise them to go kite surfing. However, in reality, walking the dog might be best for them.

Your biases, in that situation, would have guided your suggestion.

From the work of Larrivee, (2000), there are several filters, or lenses, that could affect the way we listen and how we interpret it:

Past experiences


Assumptions and expectations

Feelings and mood

Personal agendas and aspirations


  • Be prepared to listen
  • Try to prevent distractions
  • Listen for ideas not just words
  • Listen for content, feelings, intentions
  • Stimulate the speaker by asking questions
  • Try to relax
  • Use empathy
  • Relate to your own experiences
  • Thinking positively
  • Awareness of body language


  • Changing the meaning
  • Personal prejudices
  • Emotional blind spots
  • Making early judgements
  • Reacting to the speaker rather than the message
  • Getting angry or irritated or impatient
  • Filling or searching for gaps

The subject of listening and being a better listener in mentor-mentee relationships is covered in our Coach Mentor Diploma course, in collaboration with United Soccer Coaches.

Through live webinar sessions and online learning, across three blocks, the diploma course will help coaches learn the key skills of a being an effective coach mentor.

It will provide coaches with a valuable CPD opportunity that will ultimately create a better environment for players to develop and achieve success. And on completion, coaches will also receive a United Soccer Coaches Diploma certificate.

So, if your work involves supporting other coaches through their development and you would like to learn how to do this more effectively, join our latest intake on our Coach Mentor Diploma.

Click the link, add the course to the basket and secure your place in this exclusive cohort.

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