Self Evaluation for Health Coaching


Are You a Good Listener?

Part 2

What about the

21-day Rule?


If you didn't have the time to complete the Self-Evaluation of your listening skills given in last week's Snippet, please consider giving it another go before reading further!

Listening during health coaching can be greatly improved by meaningful practice after a self-evaluation is completed that reveals the areas of listening that needs improvement. Complete your own self-evaluation in less than 60 seconds!




Your self-evaluation coupled with the Evaluation completed by your family member, friend or colleague gives the BEST overall picture of where you can focus your attention and efforts to be a better listener! A better health coach!

Because we have been "telling patients what to do" since the beginning of time, it's not easy to retrain yourself. But, it can be done! And we're the better professionally for it, and for sure, our patients are also winners!

Now that your Evaluation is completed and reviewed, you may be asking yourself:

"How Do I Start to Improve?"


Take a hard look at those items you and your evaluator checked. You may have noticed that all of these items are written in the negative, so self-scoring is easy! Any item checked is an item that needs some attention given to it in the way of minimizing that behavior. Some of these behaviors can be habitual, so it may take a little longer to "break that habit!" But don't give up. With attention to practice, you'll only get better and better!


"How long will it take?"


While many authors agree that the average time to change a habit is 21 days to a month, there is more to consider than simply the factor of "time". Dr. Thomas Plante, Director, Spirituality & Health Institute, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine (1) says the following about breaking bad habits:


“One important issue is how strongly do you really want to break the habit in question.

Second, how established is the problem habit? It is easier to break a new habit than an old one.

Third, what are the consequences of not breaking the habit?”

We can look at poor listening as possibly a bad habit to break!

1. Prioritize those items in the evaluation that you can address first most easily. This allows you to achieve "listening" success early on which is a powerful self-motivator to continue moving forward.

2. For those items that you believe are more habitual in nature, set a realistic timeframe for yourself and address these either one at a time or in total. Whatever works for you is what is most important in making lasting changes in your listening skills.



Note the following Good Listening Tips to consider!

Determine if any are applicable to your Evaluation!

· Keep your eyes focused on the speaker. (Remember the reason in Part 1 why it's easy to have a wandering mind. (If you missed it, email me, and I'll send it to you!)

· Turn your phone off. Don't use a speaker phone.

· Keep your own emotions in check when the patient expresses an opinion different from your own.

· Intend to remain engaged in the moment.

· Allow the patient to talk 50% of the time.

· Remain quiet while the patient is speaking. Don't interrupt, even if the patient is incorrect from a clinical standpoint. Make your comments afterward.

· Give the patient time to finish his/her thoughts.

· Use empathy. (While you may not have "walked in the patient's shoes", you likely do know how it feels to go through changing behavior of your own.


Remember the 21-day rule!


While it may take longer than 21 days to break a bad listening habit, it can be done!

More importantly, better listening is the key to being a better health coach!



Melinda Huffman, BSN, MSN,CCNS, CHC


The National Society of Health Coaches



Learn More: 

Cognitive Reframing

Stress & Anxiety

Mental Health Coaching

Listening in Health Coaching